Sunday we wrapped up our series “The Welcome Initiative” with a call to a financial and prayerful commitment to improve our church in ways to become more welcoming. I think it’s been clear from the beginning of our series that this isn’t simply about money, but truly about the heart of First Baptist—a church with a rich history of being a friendly church, and the mission that we’ve all been given to be a light in a world that can be exceedingly dark.
Over this last month, I’ve had to ask myself some tough questions about my own life, and the ways my own attitudes and pre-conceived notions about people, hinder me from being someone actively welcoming people into my story of God’s redeeming grace and love. I definitely struggle with my own judgements, and often view myself as being on the “right side” of this whole Christianity thing—as if any hopeful testimony of my life is truly of my own power. Just last week I was having judgy thoughts about someone in my life that is struggling with a consequence of sin. God did like God does to those that dabble in pride, and used a book I’ve been reading for my devotion time to smack me around a bit. The day’s mediation just happened to be about how God’s goodness is reflected in His choice to love us despite our sin, and used scripture about adoption to drive home the point of our imperfection.
“But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.” Galatians 4:4-5
Being adopted by Christ means that despite our circumstances, failures, and backgrounds, that he chooses us anyway. I think the Bible uses the word “adoption” to highlight that God didn’t have to love us. The earth he created was perfect. Over and over through the creation story, you hear God describe it as good. That day in the garden, humanity ruined what God called Good. He could’ve abandoned humanity right then and there. We could’ve be orphaned by our own sin. He could’ve washed His hands of all of us.
But He didn’t.
Instead, he sent his son Jesus to tell us how to be better—not for His sake, but for ours. Then he let Jesus die so we wouldn’t have to face the consequences of our sin. God chooses to welcome us into His kingdom of goodness even though we’re not good. He didn’t abandon us when we didn’t fit into His itinerary, He made a way for us to join Him anyway. Because Christ has a heart of welcoming to all people, we must emulate that same heart. We must love people as their authentically imperfect selves, because we ourselves aren't perfect. That is hard work because some people at their “true selves” are difficult and messy. Sometimes they struggle with things we just don’t understand. We might know that we’re supposed to love people, and be welcoming to them, but their lives are so outside of our comfort zones that we just don’t know how to.
Authenticity is a double-edged sword. We want to be honest, and want others to be honest about their lives, their struggles, their fears etc.. But we’re not meant to dwell in those things. We’re meant to have a life that is transformed. As Christians, we believe that transformation comes from Christ alone. We’re not only messengers of that transformation, but examples of it.
One of my favorite passages that touches on this is Ezekiel 36:26:
“Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.”
This is why our welcome is so important. Expecting someone’s behavior to change before knowing the love and freedom of Christ, is having an expectation in the wrong order. We want people to be authentically seeking new life. God’s love for us is proof that what really changes the heart of people is being loved. It’s extending understanding before judgement, it’s not just forgiving someone that has hurt you, but blessing them. It’s seeing everyone as imperfect, but beloved children. It’s changing the lenses of our hearts from what we see in people, to what He sees in people. This is hard work, but the hard, painstaking, all-in, risky work of being a people welcoming others into the kingdom of God, and the transforming power of His love, is our highest calling.
We have a responsibility to be a welcoming people. We have a responsibility to deconstruct imaginary church walls to allow more people in. That doesn’t mean agreeing or condoning behavior that is unbiblical or destructive, but it does mean not letting those things hinder you from loving people anyway--just like God hasn't let our sin hinder us from His love.
As we end our “Welcome Initiative” series, let’s keep praying for and actively pursuing God’s will for our church as a place of refuge for the weary. Of hope in a world of so much pain, confusion and brokenness. May we be different in all the best ways.
By Guest Blogger Jani Barnes
I don’t write blogs. But a dear friend of mine asked if I would consider writing the FBC blog for the week of Mother’s Day. The very first words out of my mouth were, “Oh how sweet! No, thank you, but I can help you brainstorm a few other moms who I bet would love to and that and who would do a great job!” Yet as I continued to visit with her, I felt a gentle nudging from the Lord that encouraged me toward saying, “I will think about it,” and not because I am an expert in parenting, or am confident in having something valuable to share, but because some of my journey could possibly be an encouragement to some of you. I ultimately agreed and here we are!
My daughter Grace returned home last week from being away for her first year of college. I have been preparing for this moment for weeks now—expressing my excitement to everyone, cleaning the house, organizing her room, closet and drawers, making room for all her things. It is important to me is that she would feel welcomed, and loved and “cozy” as she enters back in to her home here, even if it is just for the summer.
Yes, there is going to be some mess when she comes home…boxes, clothes, an entire dorm room full of things to find places for…but for at least a few days I won’t mind the mess, because she’s home, and I get to just be with her, enjoy her presence, hear her laughter, and talk with her face to face.
I can’t help but wonder if God feels that way towards me. Waiting eagerly for me to come home to Him. To relax and find comfort in His presence—even after a time when I have been distant from Him, when I have been “too busy” to find time to spend with Him. And I wonder if He doesn't even mind my mess, for a while, he’s just happy to have me home.
One of the ongoing struggles I have when I am in one of my more distant places from God is that I find myself more controlled by fear and lack of faith. No where is this more true than in my role as a mom. My worst mom moments tend to be the moments I parent out of fear and never-ending “what-ifs.” I realize that my parenting is not at its best when fear becomes my default mode. Through the years I have discovered the best antidote for this is prayer.
My better mom moments are when I parent from that place of prayer. Through prayer, I can bring my children before God, on behalf of the many things they face each day. Through prayer I bring my cares and concerns for them, my hopes and my dreams for them, and all of the things that feel out of my control. I am slowly learning the freedom that comes by bringing those fears before the Lord and trusting Him with those that are closest to my heart.
Regardless of where I am—my best, worst, or somewhere in between, I think God feels about me like I felt about Grace coming home last week. ”Welcome home, I’m so glad you’re here!”
I have a good friend named Sherry. Sherry is a Veterinarian that I have worked with over the past several years. A Taiwanese immigrant, Sherry was raised as a Buddhist, but considers herself non-religious. She and I meet often for meals, and we have an unspoken rule that no topic is off-limits. We talk about politics, culture, racial tension, and both religious and nonreligious belief systems, and how to reconcile these very different worlds in meaningful ways. I treasure the time we spend together because even though we come from different places, we respect one another so much.
A couple of weeks ago, Sherry and I were going to meet for lunch, and I remembered I had a meeting at church and couldn't make it. She was going to pick something up from me when we met, so I told her she could swing by the church to pick it up. She said “no” before I even finished my sentence. Not just a regular “no” but such a strong “no” that I could feel the physical revolt behind her words. Now from previous conversations, I knew that Sherry didn’t have the greatest impression of Christians or church, but her reaction still shocked me a bit. After I made an ill-timed joke about God no longer being in the smiting business, I pushed her to tell me why she had such a strong reaction. She had a general list of the usual grievances, but then she said “I’ve just had way more negative experiences with Christians than positive experiences.” My heart sunk down into the pit of my stomach and spilled out onto the floor. Even though she knows me and considers me a friend, it wasn’t enough for her to feel welcome to walk through the door of the church I attend.
If you know me in real life, you know that I’m passionate about identifying what imaginary walls we build, not just around our churches, but around Christianity in general, that make people feel like they aren’t welcome in. Because of this, The Church and I have had a somewhat complicated relationship. I went from loving The Church, to being cynical and critical of all her flaws, to falling back in love with what I know she can be-- a holy, redemptive, compassionate, functioning body that wants people to meet and fall in love with Jesus Christ. I have seen her function in all her Jesus-emulating glory, but I have also seen her hurt people, alienate unbelievers, become moralistic instead of grace-dwelling, and wrongly label cultural issues and political parties as “Christian and Non-Christian.” I don’t point this out in anger, but out of knowing that The Church can’t be what it was meant to be if we don’t recognize the ways that have been destructive to our calling.
I know this can be hard to hear. Maybe you’re feeling a little defensive. I totally get it. However Just like any healthy relationship, sometimes the healthiest way to love is to “tough-love.” Many people view churches as unapproachable places and Christians as unapproachable people. This is a tough pill to swallow, but even just acknowledging that the Christian Church isn't considered a "safe" place by everyone, tears down walls and builds bridges. Think of a time you've been deeply hurt. Now think of a time someone acknowledged that pain in a sincere, non-dismissive way. Did it soften you? Did it bring comfort to you in knowing that someone tried to extend understanding to you? We have an opportunity to soften others by listening to their stories, acknowledging their pain, and reflecting the true love of Christ. In practicing forgivingness and in being forgiven. In taking a chance and planting seeds on rocky soil and praying they sprout.
When I heard about “The Welcome Initiative” I got excited. It would be naive to believe that a remodel alone is going to cause people to be more comfortable walking through our doors. What a huge opportunity though, to use this time to be purposeful in finding points of connection with people that maybe wouldn’t come to church outside of a special event or Upwards sports. Putting our best foot forward not just in aesthetics, but in an attitude of love for a whole community of people that God has charged us to reach, reflects the overflow of abundant blessing and resources He has given us. We each have a circle of influence, and it’s good to be intentional about how we can use that influence to introduce people to Christ. Our church should be a resource, and place where we feel good about inviting people to walk through the doors.
In the sermon on the Mount, Jesus says “Blessed are the peacemakers for they will be called Children of God.” There is a good reason Jesus didn’t say “blessed are the peacekeepers...” You can’t “keep” what hasn’t been attained. We must act and make peace with those around us. Like Pastor Glen said on Sunday, going first is tough, but maybe we need to initiate the handshake across the aisle to the people around us that maybe haven't seen the best The Church has to offer. After all, we have all been created by the same God, so there is no them there is only us. There is no set demographic, just children of God. I hope that during this next month (and onward), our hearts would be greater burdened for the people in our community that need the love of a good God, and support of an imperfect, but compassionate community of Jesus-loving people.
Let’s let our “welcome” become a multifaceted attempt to be everything we’re called to be and who we say we are.
This week we talked about where we find our worth and this idea that it is in Christ we find our ultimate value. We talked about David, and in the text we read (Psalm 16), we hear David gushing about God’s goodness—about his overflowing cup despite his circumstances—about the remarkable joy that he has because of God's presence.
I agree that our hope, trust, identity and worth should be fully rooted in His love for us. Often His presence doesn’t feel like enough though, does it? When we’re in the depths of grief and sorrow. When we’ve grown disenchanted with our circumstances. When we see other people blessed with what we’ve longed for. When our cries to God for help grow increasingly faint and we feel forgotten. When we’re lonely. When we’re misunderstood. When we’re burned out. When we feel raw, exposed and soaked through with fear. Maybe we don’t feel Him at all…
The things of God are just so different than the way of the world. We’re so used to worldly labels and definitions and categorizations. In our social constructs, our value isn’t automatic. We must constantly prove to the system that we are worthy. The world is constantly demanding us to declare our identities--to pick this side or that side and to be known by those things. There is sometimes even an air of casual karma—the subtly communicated belief that the things that we’re going through are a direct cause and effect of our failure. Sometimes these constructs spill over into our churches, and our place of worship starts to feel less like a holy, redemptive community, and more like everywhere else—void of rest, always demanding us to preform to get ahead, feeling like we might be rejected if our lives don’t seem perfect, or our circumstances don’t allow us to fit into pre-constructed, easy to identify boxes.
Sometimes these experiences hinder our ability to see ourselves the way Christ sees us, and to rest in the fullness of His love. We often project our insecurities, and the crude social currency system we experience here, onto a God who is far divorced from our worldly methods. We just accept that if we are dealing with painful life situations, that God must be far away. That we must not be in His presence. That our blessings, or seemingly lack thereof, is God punishing us from afar. That His affection for us is based on our performance, and our status with him is always in limbo.
My friends, that is just not true.
Because He created us, we were born with value, purpose and identity. He knows us to the depths of our hearts, every secret, every failure, and everything we hide, and still He loves us and considers us worthy of His love. He is with us in the shallows. He wants us to rest in knowing that He sees our pain and does not ignore our cries. He us sees beyond our messes. He meets us where we are. We can stop searching for significance—we already have it.
When we don’t “feel” His presence, it’s hard to believe He is actually here with us, and hard to feel joy. Thankfully not feeling Him doesn’t mean he is far away. It doesn’t mean you’re broken. Sometimes it just means we need a bit of a reboot. A few things that I’ve tried to do in my own “dry spells” is seek reminders of His promises. I have and old list from a Bible study I did in college that I keep in my nightstand, and pull out when I need to be reminded of His love. I also try to make prayer a habit. When I can’t find the words, I often pray Psalm 139:23-24
“Search me O God and know my heart;
Try me and know my anxious thoughts;
And see if there is any hurtful way in me,
And lead me in the everlasting way.”
I’d say the most helpful thing I’ve learned is not to isolate myself from community with other Christians. While the church isn’t a perfect place, you’d be hard pressed to find a person that says they’ve never felt far from God’s presence, have never been in a season of pain, or haven’t struggled with feeling valuable to Him. Don’t be afraid to be honest. God has given us the gift of community and often uses others to speak His love and truth to us, walk with us through hard stuff, and rejoice with us when the fog starts to lift.
May He lead us in everlasting ways--in ways different than what we've grown to know.
May we breathe Him in deeply. May we find rest in His love. May we too experience cups that run over with joy—regardless of our circumstances. He is God with us. You are not alone. You are His.
In scripture, the word "dead" is used not only to describe literal physical death, but relational death, spiritual death and death in sin. Death as state of being as opposed to a state of finality. These biblical deaths are never portrayed as hopeless, but as a condition that can be reversed through God's power and our repentance
In John Chapter 5, we read a story about a lame man that Jesus heals. This man has been afflicted with a paralytic condition for 38 years. He told Jesus that he had been waiting by this healing pool known to occasionally be “stirred up” by an angel, and provide healing to the first sick person that makes it in. The man tells Jesus that other people keep beating him into the pool. Instead of just healing this poor man, first Jesus asks the man a question.
“Do you want to get well?”
Seriously Jesus, do you have to ask? Of course this man wants to be healed. He’s been afflicted for 38 long, painful years. Jesus does have a point though--how is it after 38 years, this man could never make it down to the pool in time? Why weren’t his feet positioned so close to the water that he wouldn’t be able to miss the “stir?” Are we sure he really wants it, and if he doesn’t, why not? Maybe the man had become comfortable in his poolside prison. Maybe he realized that his healing would mean he would no longer have a literal and figurative “crutch.” Was is that he knew after he was healed, he would need to find a skill or trade to support himself? Maybe he was afraid of change. Could it have even been that his identity was so wrapped up in his affliction, that the thought of healing meant losing himself? Scripture doesn’t say.
Healing requires something from us. Maybe we expect that once we become Christians, the work is done. The dead in us automatically becomes life. Our “dry bones” begin regenerating. Our afflictions are just magically healed. One of my “afflictions” has been a dysfunctional and abusive family. Through God’s provision I came to know Christ as a teenager. That didn’t change my family. The abuse and dysfunction continued, and when I was old enough to leave the situation, I carried my own learned dysfunction into every other relationship. Healing would require me to dig up all the pain I had shoved down for years, every unhealthy coping mechanism and vice, and surrender it all to God. It would require me to behave in a way that God was asking me to behave, which was contradictory to my emotions. Healing would require me to forgive people I didn't view as worthy of my forgiveness. Most of all, it would require me to give up my excuses to be angry and bitter, and take ownership of my own sickness. I wouldn't just need to tell God that I wanted to be healed, I'd have to actually allow Him to do something in me, and not just for me.
It’s not until we lay out the welcome mats on the porches of our hearts, and invite Him into every room—no holds barred—that that our lives can be transformed. Jesus wants us to be continually tapped into His healing power. A power that previous to Jesus' death on the cross, was barred from us in the form of a veil. That long Saturday between Jesus' death and resurrection, was the first full day that the greatness of His healing power became available to us-- not just in heaven, but on earth. He wants our lives to be free of our sicknesses and to dwell in the joy of healthy, obedient living. He doesn’t just want to give us the gift of Heaven, but the gift of a good life right now.
Do we want it? Do we want to be healed? Do we want our relationships to be healthy? Do we want to be free of harmful habits? Do we want to be able to let go of the past? Do we want new life in Him to renew us to the very core? Into our very bones?
He is here. He is waiting for us to grab ahold of him, admit that we need His guidance, and walk hand-in-hand with Him through the healing process. In Christ, death has lost its sting. The same power that rose Him from the dead can breathe new life into all of the "death" we possess now. We are a new creation. Isn't it time we lived like it?
What would it feel like to be healed after 38 years? What are the first three things you’d want to do?
Read Ephesians 2:1-8
In this passage, Paul Talks about the idea of being physically alive but spiritually dead. What would you say it looks like to be spiritually dead? Is it always obvious?
In verse 8 it says “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith— and this is not of yourselves, it is the gift of God.” Do you think this contradicts the narrative that we have some control over our healing? Why or why not?
If you’re comfortable, share a time that something in your life seemed dead, but was “resurrected” by a combination of the power of Christ and obedience to Him.
What do you think it means for God to have done something for you but not in you?
Go around the room and take prayer requests. Spend some time praying for one another and thanking God for his ability to heal every part of our lives.
A few weeks ago, I was reading the story of the Prodigal Son. I must admit, this is a parable I’ve always kind of wrestled with. Like many of you, I’m perfectionistic. Justice is important to me. I can be a bit too black and white. Hearing a story about a spoiled kid that demands his inheritance, blows it, and returns to his father throwing him a party? That makes me uncomfortable. My heart immediately empathizes with the brother. I can feel his anger and resentment into my bones. He has been faithful. He was obedient to his father. “Why doesn’t he get a party?” I silently pout. “It’s not fair!”
Every time I read that story, it reminds me of how even after 23 years of knowing Christ, I still have so far to go when it comes to both knowing and accepting God’s grace in my own life. I’ve all too often experienced the side-effects of being a slave to religious perfection instead of functioning as the daughter of a God that relentlessly loves me, and pursues my heart passionately—even when I’m not perfect. Shame is an incredibly manipulative, seductive, adulterer of grace--corrupting what we know about God by convincing us that our worth is directly connected to our behavior. Constantly whispering “you’re not good enough” in our ear.
Shame requires us to carry around the empty suitcases that once held the weight of our failures. It requires us to promote ourselves as the judge and jury of our own lives, and if we’re really honest, it’s that same shame that encourages us to take delight in the failings of others, because misery loves company. When you haven’t let the unfairness of grace infiltrate your own heart, you can’t extend that grace to the imperfect people around you.
Psalm 103:10-12 says, "He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His steadfast love toward those who fear him.”
His steadfast love.
His love is a love doesn’t run away when things get messy. His love is a love that knows every secret you hold, but still calls you His “child.” His love is a love that persistently asks you to let go of the things you’ve done because in his eyes, none of that defines you. You are His.
Shame is slavery to a system that, as of that “good” Friday, ceased to exist. When shame tells us we're unworthy, Christ is there telling us that all we have to do is ask Him to take it all, and asking us to trust that He has made us new. He's asking us to find our identity in Him. He is asking us to hand Him our self-made prisons and dwell in His freedom.
It’s not fair, its uncomfortable, and that’s the point.
Yesterday we talked about the disaster of the Titanic. The “Unsinkable” ship met her match just 4 days into that historic voyage. We talked about the foundations on which we build our lives, and the inevitability of tragedy in our own lives.
Then we took communion.
I haven’t always valued the practice of communion. Like many religious things, it just became something I did the first Sunday of each month. Only over the last few years I have grown to appreciate the power of the table. The reminder of the gift of mercy and grace from a good God that loves me. The scheduled medium to “get right” by confessing my sin, and asking for God’s power to overcome it. His body broken for me and His blood shed to cover my multitude of inequities. There is something beautiful about the way we approach the table in brokenness.
I know talking about disaster and then communion seems like a sharp segue, but there is something disaster and communion have in common--they are the great equalizers.
Disaster doesn’t discriminate. No one is immune. The day the Titanic sunk, there was no median demographic—the rich and poor, man, woman, child, religious, "bad person" and "good person" all faced death in the frigid Atlantic.
When we come to the table together, we come as men, women and children. The rich, the poor, the faithful and the struggling--all in need of a Savior. There is no one who has an edge on morality. No one is immune to sin. There are no inherited advantages. We may not be “equal” by societal standards, but our need for Christ makes us identical. The pastor and the death row inmate both need the hope of Jesus and promise of eternal life in Him.
A life founded on Christ won’t protect us from disaster, but life without Christ is the ultimate tragedy. In Christ, we have the promise that regardless of what we face on earth, it will all be set right in heaven.
“…In this world, there will be trouble” Jesus said “but take heart, I have overcome the world.”
I know this makes it all sound so easy. Having walked through the grief of unexpected disaster with a close friend over the past few weeks, I’ve seen the gut-wrenching, hard to breathe, unrelenting pain of tragedy. God’s expectation isn’t that we push down our pain, but that we would try to seek Him even in the depths. We are never expected to fake joy in disaster, but to pursue it, and try to allow Him to walk through it with us. The gift of Jesus isn’t just salvation, but a relationship where our brokenness and vulnerability are welcome.
Thats a relationship worthy of pursuing.
Recently, I read a story about Kintsugi—the 500-year-old Japanese art of fixing broken pottery with precious metals. The art is thought to have been started by a commander in the Japanese military. The commander, unhappy with repair work that was done on a bowl that was part of a tea set that he loved, asked craftsmen to come up with a better way to repair it that was aesthetically pleasing. Instead of trying to hide the flaw, the craftsmen used gold to add value and highlight the beauty of brokenness. The word “Kintsugi” is translated “joining with gold.”
This week we started our new series “Surprised by Grace” with a special guest speaker. It truly was a great service with an incredible message of beauty and hope. He used the example of now famous composers that had incredible flaws and failures, and were largely ignored by the people around them due to their imperfections. His message focused on looking beyond the flaws of others to see that God’s strength and grace are made perfect in weakness, and asked us to be willing to “walk across the street” to meet people who are potentially hard to love, but may also possess subtle beauty.
Everyone has a story. Like every story, we all experience hardship and conflict. As Christians, we’ve been taught that God permits the hard seasons of life to draw us closer to Himself, and to help us develop the perseverance to diligently follow Him. However, we’ve all experienced challenging seasons have left us raw and in pain. Situations where we can’t see how God could use any of it for good. Seasons that leave us unrecognizable—exposing our cracks, chips, and rough edges for all to see.
Sometimes we meet people in the midst of conflict, and the picture of their life on display isn’t an accurate reflection of who they really are. Brokenness mars their beauty. Their edges become especially sharp to protect themselves from more pain or shame. While doing everything to push people away, what they really need is someone to come into their lives that is willing to be a place of refuge and a beacon of hope, to see beauty in their brokenness, to recognize in them what pain has distorted and to remind them that “He makes beauty from ashes.” This is hard but good work. Not taking someone at face value goes against our intrinsic methods of self-preservation, but good investments aren’t always easy ones. While we can’t always relate to someone’s specific pain, we can still relate to the way pain can affect every facet of our lives.
While none of us are immune to hardship, we all have a choice to allow God to be the ultimate artist-- painting the picture of our lives that most accurately represents Him in us—using our deepest flaws and softening our rough chips and edges to highlight His grace, goodness and healing. Just like the art of Kintsugi, allowing God to shine through our cracks adds value to our pain. Value that helps us relate to the deep pain of others, and be an example of His grace shining through us--even at our worst. A grace that Is available to all who seek it.
What is a practical way to find something to love in a hard-to-love person?
What was a time in your life where some kind of pain or conflict caused you to push people away?
Lets read Isaiah 61:1-3 How can we apply that passage to our lives when we're trying to show love and grace to difficult people?
When we end a sermon series, we often ask ourselves the question "now what?" What are the implications of living out what we learn about God and about our place in His story? The conclusion of our “In the Beginning” series reminded us that throughout the Bible, we witness story after story of God using the most ordinary, and often least-likely people to fulfil His plans and do extraordinary things for God. How can we apply this series to our day-to-day lives?
I think one thing we must talk about are the things that inhibit us from saying “yes” to God.
Sometimes being open to God's plan feels threatening to the vision we've long-held of what we want or expect our lives to look like. Sometimes that openness even feels incredibly threatening to our very definition of success. What if God calls us to a life absent of our deepest desires?
For some of us, the shame of never feeling quite “good enough” hinders us from feeling worthy of a high calling on our lives. Sometimes we are so painfully aware of our own failures and imperfections, that we convince ourselves that God can’t use us where we are, so we slam shut the doors He opens for us to be a part of His plan.
Maybe you're the opposite. Maybe you desire to be used greatly, but you're just not sure where God is calling you. Maybe you see people around you are thriving in their area of calling, and you're feeling like God forgot about you. Or maybe you even experience an inkling of jealously because you see others that have been gifted in ways you haven't been gifted, and your gift just doesn't seem as essential and impactful as the gifts of the people around you.
I've experienced all of these feelings at one time or another, and still have times in my life where I allow things to hold me back from being “all in” when it comes to God’s plan and calling. Surrender can be so hard! In the times when I’m especially struggling, I try to remember the lineage of Jesus. His family didn’t have it all together. It was quite the opposite. We see generations of imperfect, broken, ungodly, disobedient people. We see many of those broken, inadequate people say "yes" to God right where they were. They didn't ask God to give them ample time to work on being worthy of His call. God's call on their lives to be part of His story didn't even turn them into perfect followers. But God, being perfect in His power, still used their imperfections to bring glory to Himself, and fulfil his ultimate plan; a baby Savior, sent to earth to die, and give the option of salvation and eternal life with Him to all mankind.
In all stages of their faithfulness, God shows up-- filling the gaps of their imperfections and shortcomings with Himself. That’s huge! It also takes the pressure off a bit. He is still perfect. He is still filling the gaps of our imperfections and fears!
Let’s talk about it!
What is the biggest thing that holds you back from saying “yes” to God?
What is a practical way you can use your gifts and talents to serve God right now?
Read Hebrews 11. What hero of the faith is the most relatable or inspiring to your own story?
Jake McGregor, Pastor of Missional & Spiritual Formation