I have been known (at least in my own heart) to have a chip on my shoulder criticizing how churches operate: Why do all the pastors sit together instead of spreading out in the sanctuary? Why aren’t the pastors mingling with strangers? Why don’t those worship leaders go hangout with a loner in the back? And so on. But at one-point years ago in my grumbling to God about church operations, He so kindly reminded me that though I am not paid to do so, I am a part of the body…so if my heart is so strong in reaching out to people, why am I not the one doing exactly what I think they should do?
Two days before I was offered the job I spent a lot of my time crying because I was so afraid of moving. I had spent my entire life in Michigan. My friends and family were all in Michigan, I had the best living situation of my entire life, and I was finally feeling settled. I had been praying for a camp job for almost a year, but I wanted my dream job on my own terms.I remember telling God, “If this is the door you are going to open for me, I will walk through it. But I really really don’t want to.”
Deconstructionism calls for the pulling apart of faith for examination. At first glance, this sounds beneficial. We should know what we believe and why we believe it (1 Peter 3:15). However, the deconstructionist is rooted in doubt, not in faith. We are encouraged to doubt everything that we have ever known. Doubt, not faith, is encouraged and praised.
Some of you may not know this, but just this past year I started a new job at the missions organization, World Mission. It’s amazing to me how quickly your focus can change depending on the environment you’re saturated in. After carefully watching award show nominees for five and half years while working at a film school, this past year I couldn’t tell you which films were nominated for the Oscars. I could however tell you about the crazy military coup that was taking place in Myanmar or the humanitarian crisis in Bangui, Central African Republic when rebel groups were choking off their supply chain.
What if I stay single forever? This is a thought that used to haunt me. I lived in such denial of this being a possibility. At weddings when well-meaning women would say “there’s someone out there for you too” I would nod my head in eager anticipation. But I have a bit of a different perspective on that now.
I wouldn’t use the word bold to describe myself, and I’ve struggled with courage, but I’ve tried to be faithful. I don’t hide the fact I’m a Christian. I’ve been intentional about looking for opportunities to work my faith into my conversations. I’ve prayed for or with people when they are feeling hopeless or weary. I’ve shared the Gospel a few times, and in general have tried to bear good fruit. But, in all my subtle and overt faith-sharing experiences, I’ve never been met with hostility.
Jesus was not unfamiliar with political turmoil, oppression, and war. Israel was under the oppressive rule of Rome when he walked the earth. There were riots, starvation, sickness, and political uprisings. Jesus had firsthand experience with conflict. And yet his purpose on earth was not to bring political peace or an era where the nation of Israel would be free from tyranny. And His purpose was not to passively allow the oppressors to take advantage or exploit him.
When Jesus uses the word “heart” he is referring here to the center of a person’s entire being. This is why at Across My Heart, we talk about holistic purity: purity involving not just physical actions, but a person’s mind, body, and emotions. Blessed are those whose thoughts and actions strive to reflect the purity of God’s nature.
How have you been surviving this crazy season? I have a confession to make … Some days my stress levels are going through the roof. So, if you’ve been in that place, you’re not alone! One of the ways I’ve been working through my stress, that I’ve found particularly helpful, is by going for walks. While walking I’d spend time just talking to God, thanking him for the beautiful day, the gorgeous fall colors, and the soft crisp breeze. It felt like I was going for a walk with a friend and enjoying some quality time together.
I often feel like my relationship with God ends up getting treated the same way my hunger does. After being distracted with other things, I start to feel a little bit of a gurgle that perhaps I am not in tune with God, and so at my leisure, I pick up my Bible and read a verse and/or turn on one worship song. Then I feel all set until the next time I start to feel a little bit out of touch with God and so I’ll go and repeat the cycle, taking just enough time to feel full and move on with my day to day life. Being 100% transparent, this is a very common temptation for me. It’s a cycle I’m way more familiar with then I would prefer to admit.