Certainly I have thought about our church: what are we doing well that we should keep doing, what are we not doing well that we need to stop, and what are somethings that we're not doing so well but we need to do better. But these are the easy questions, aren't they? The more difficult questions are when I have to look in my own heart, my own actions, my own beliefs and see what I need to be doing better, what I need to stop, & what I need to continue to do.
In this inventory of myself, as well as the church, I have found that I've become complacent individually, and perhaps we have corporately as well.
When I first came back to church, when I first sat in the empty chairs upfront amongst strangers with music that I did not know and a God I did not trust, I was desperate. I didn't even know how desperate I was at that time.
It is difficult to step back into the pain of a broken marriage, a lonely heart, a fractured soul, and a hopelessness that seems so far away, but that is where I was. Skeptical of truth and void of hope, I came to church because I was asked to. Not because I wanted something. Not because I thought there was any value there. Not even because I was searching for something. I had given up on life long before.
But the Jesus I encountered didn't just come to earth to suffer, die and be resurrected to save my soul from an eternal hell but also from hell here-and he used a church community to do that.
I was starving for meaning, and they fed me the Word of God and washed it down with the Living Water.
They gave me a new name, calling me one of them and gave me a home and a community.
They visited my dark prison cells, but they brought flashlights and made sure that I realized the door was open and that we could BOTH walk out.
They bandaged my spiritual wounds with a salve of Truth and dressings of Grace.
And my life has been transformed. Through Christ. And through his body-the church.
I am fortunate, though, that I have the opportunity to read back through emails and journal entries and blog post about how much I've grown. Just this week, as I was searching through my email box, I came across something that reminded me of a more recent growth spurt. One that wouldn't have been possible 10 years ago.
I read about the woman of faith I have become. I read about my steps into leadership. I read about my fear of inadequacy and how I was encouraged to remember God has a plan, even for me.
But it isn't really about me.
It is about Him.
And it is about you. You who are far from God. You who are wondering if you matter. Your broken spirit. The emptiness in your gut that you can't fill no matter how much you eat, earn, spend, medicate, or meditate. He wants to free you, too.
I am sorry that I have been so self centered and haven't noticed you. I will make room. I will offer you my seat and welcome you. I will open my calendar and my heart to connect with you. I will be vulnerable & truthful about what a mess I can still be. I want to show you how amazing life can be when you have a relationship with Him & his people.
This series shouldn't simply end. There isn't a test at the end of the course. It is a reminder-a reminder that this isn't about me. And I need that sometimes. I bet we all do.