I've been convicted twice in the last two days.
One-- I saw a friend who was full of gratitude for the way another family and another church had helped his family at a critical time. This family had lost much of what they owned through a real tragedy. I remember thinking, "I wish there was something I could do or our church could do." But I soon got wrapped up in day to day life etc. Then, the other day, this friend expressed gratitude for the way someone else had blessed them with some very practical help. It occurred to me that while I couldn't have "fixed" their problem, nevertheless, I could have responded in some way. It's about a missed opportunity.
Second-- I heard a guy say the other day he was glad to have the opportunity to encourage some people. Then he realized that he was actually the one who needed encouragement. Been there. Yet, his words encouraged me to live with a greater sense of God's life giving Spirit being active and directly involved in my life and work. Those aren't just words. I have experienced what it means to be fully alive in God. I also know what it means to just be hanging on trying to survive.
I've seen too many people in churches just give up.
- At one time, alive and passionate about a cause only to have the air go out of their balloon due to criticism and direct opposition.
- At one time, ready to take on a new task, but they kept running into obstacles from people who had no passion and no sense of urgency.
- At one time, ready to step up to a challenge but then they were met with indifference and passivity until they finally decided that it was just not worth it.
How tragic...That is exactly where the evil one wants us to be. Defeated and then ultimately detached.
At the moment, I am tired. Tired of hearing about this or that quick fix. Tired of trying the latest "deal." Tired of committee's, more study, more talk, etc. Tired of making all of this in church life so complicated. It is not that complicated. I am really not complaining about others. Far too often I have been right in the middle of what I am addressing. The tragedy is that too much energy is expended for what is ultimately futile.
Having said this, I am actually encouraged. But-- it has nothing to do with the above paragraph. I am encouraged because I realize that I possess everything I need to make a significant difference in this world and in another's life in particular. I possess God's life giving Spirit. Yes, churches are full of obstacles and negativity (from both young and old). But all of that doesn't determine who I am before God or anyone else. Because his life giving Spirit is in me:
- I can move toward risk, not away from it.
- I can be fully alive regardless of what people say or do.
- I am not trapped but am free to be exactly what he wants me to be.
- I can step into my fear instead of avoiding situations that make me nervous.
- I can speak boldly instead of speaking and living with hesitation.
- I can relax, breath deep, and smile. It's not up to me.