I’ve been down in the church dumps lately, but had a really refreshing weekend (and possibly leading up to it, too) that have encouraged me to be delighting more in God than my involvement or satisfaction in a group of people. The following is a break down of this idea and its formulation.
I’ve made community my idol
This is a gross (gross like eww, more than gross like big…though I suppose it fits both ways) thing to realize. I might have noticed signs of it when my connection group started to wane (we had some folks move during the summer) and my attitude waned with it, and then waxed as more consistent study and fellowship happened in the fall. I never imagined, when I first visited Cornerstone in the summer of 2008 and spring of 2009 that I would feel at home there. I reveled in my anonymity, in fact. Now I understand that a lot of the lessons God has taught me in the past year or so has been a direct result of the people He has put into my smaller circle. I love that the community model at that church is one of discipleship and accountability, prayer and service. That’s sweet. But I let the conversations and the meals kind of do a kling-on thing when I moved to Indianola and found that my expectation was for the same thing.
I should note that none of my overarching conclusions are argued with pure consistency. I came here knowing that friendships and fun take time to build. I also have realized God’s deliberate use of this season to refine my stubborn heart at various points, but still haven’t come to total terms with that. That’s where the hope and potential of my subject come in.
Missionary as an adjective
Or is it an adverb? The speaker at Perspectives (des moines, holla) tonight, who really surprised me with his teaching ability, described “missionary” as taking on a more descriptive definition than its usual noun-age. It’s not new, I know…I’ve probably even written about it here somewhere…but I’m getting a flavor of what missionary living in Indianola might entail. While I haven’t found a place to serve and minister with yet, I’ve met people to serve and minister to/with. I went to a church in Waukee that was super (Westwind), but ministering to Waukee/West Des Moinesians should be secondary to my more local sphere of influence.
I have ulterior motives as a Christian
These are clearly prominent in my walk because I’m ashamed to admit some of them. I’ll add a note that in the same Perspectives lesson tonight, Brett Gibson spoke about being believers and being followers of Jesus Christ, evangelism versus making disciples (which requires being a disciple first and forever). He emphasized participating in God’s mission in the right way, certainly not under compulsion (though he added that discomfort is not the same).
What’s stupid about these ulterior motives is that they surface apart from my “spiritual activity”–in my life-living stuff. I read about how to work for the Lord, and then I don’t do it. Not hugely rebelliously (I’m not leaving classes unattended or playing shallow popular music on the radio and calling it relevant), but there wasn’t a qualifier in Colossians 3. Work as if for the Lord most of the time. Work as if for the Lord, especially when your boss is watching. Work as if for the Lord right after this…. I put expectations on my own pathetic faithfulness and on God because of that pathetic faithfulness of “my own”. I was just reading in 1 Corinthians 4 today that we have nothing to boast about that we did not receive. Faithfulness included. Ha. Busted.
It’s a small world, and not actually that uncomfortable
I confess, I haven’t expected to be at ease in the churches I’ve visited. Partially because being the new person kind of stinks…yes, you’re welcomed heartily (that’s awesome), but in the process you’re kind of enveloped into what’s going on right now (because you’ve been so heavily invested for 20 minutes…?), and between telling versions of your life story to interested parties you are introduced to all the rest who aren’t in that category. But these awkward getting-to-know-you moments reveal a lot about the incredible connections the body of Christ has globally. It also means I am in need of a softer heart when voicing my opinion. I am not so anonymous, as it would seem. Maybe growing up means getting better at speaking in front of and with people. Or maybe the anxiety has been taken away.
I have a discipler that I was required to meet with while working (best job requirement of all time, by the way) at camp, and it has been so great, even months after working there. Knowing that we need to be disciples lifelong (we cannot know God fully on earth…), er, being reminded of that tonight, reminded me that a big part of my own disciple-making task is being a committed follower of Christ, looking to align my life with the teaching of Christ as one who has been extended salvation by grace (at the great cost of His life). I’m pumped to have her help and prayer.
Dancing is not a crime
I borrowed that from a footloose song (I think?). I’ve been really, really craving it. It has nothing to do with my subject, except that I’ve been trying to add it into my lesson plans. And it’s wildly popular. Score. I get to dance at school with kids. Of course, as a teacher I have the legitimate concern of do-see-do technique not including shooting your partner across the room with the elbow grip and fling method, but they’re moving and LAUGHING in my class, and I am too. Suh-weet.
Friends are here
I sort of expected the same group of friends I had in Ames to emerge here, and while a similar one might still happen, I’m realizing that there are friends here that I have. We don’t hang out as regularly, or in as large and mixed groups, but it’s quality. And I like that.
It’s late…and so to bed. Peace to you!