Trying to figure out where things went south is not easy. It isn’t the people it is the attitudes. I fear that so many Christians today have lost their way. I fear that more want to show than want to do and I’ll explain what I mean further down in the post.
Shortly after joining the church in 1998, I attended my first business meeting. I was so thrilled to be in God’s house that even a business meeting sounded like fun. That attitude would change. It lasted longer than you might think and had I been home during some tough times in 2001, I would have probably soured on everything a lot faster than I did but eventually, business meetings became a chore. I don’t like meetings anyway and like them even less when they accomplish nothing.
Which brings me back to my first one. My friend Duane was on the agenda. The Pastor wanted Duane to get some practical training as sort of an Assistant Pastor because his finances weren’t allowing him to return to college at that time. So this came up at the meeting. Nobody was really against the idea of giving him that position but a lengthy discussion took place on what he should be called. Yes, a person’s title was the big issue of the day. They settled on Pastoral Intern and I finally got to go home and eat. If that meeting had lasted any longer, it was going to be interrupted by a pizza delivery.
I found the whole thing perplexing at the time and assinine now. The reason it confused me then is because I didn’t really see the point. What did it matter what you called him, is this worth doing or is it not? It became assinine later when I realized that all the work that went into picking a title and everyone just called him Duane like they always had done. This was m first introduction to church politics and debates over the mondain would only get worse as time passed by.
The final straw really came in early 2012 when I was visiting my cousin Shiloh in Sioux Falls. Shiloh is the financial manager of a place that feeds meals to the needy as well as providing other necessities including school supplies for children. The night I went to work with Shiloh, a church group were the volunteer servers of dinner that evening. I had a crisis of conscience when I realized that my home church family would probably not do something like that. Individual members, on their own time, did and do things like that but the church as a collective, not so much.
I began to think about what we are called to do as Christians.
19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:
20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.
Matthew Chapter 28, verses 19-20. The key phrase to me was “go ye” whcih meant that we should be going out and meeting people’s needs. My local church had become “sit ye here and wait”, yes, the church does run a booth every year at the State Fair but that is 5 days out of a year that has 365 or 366 days. Outreach was lacking and when I realized that, disenchantment set in for me. We are meant, as Christians to be a shining light, not to close ourselves off from others and make them come to us. This is what I meant about showing as opposed to doing or being.
I still love the Lord and desire to serve him. I also still desire fellowship with other believers. I have sort of carved out my own nitch in some of those areas. However, I have learned over the past few days that I could be better.
I have been rebuked and while it might not be fun to experience it has been welcome. One of the many great things about God is that he knows the right way to appeal to me and to teach me what I need to learn.
As you know, I have been grieving hard over the loss of my beloved companion Ginny. I have been moody and depressed and emotional and who can only say what else. What I have not been is thankful and appreciative.
At any point in my writings from earlier this year, it would have been so easy for someone to comment and tell me to stop feeling sorry for myself. It would have been so easy for someone to point out all of the wonderful things I have experienced, all the things that I have both in possessions and opportunities and to point out how lucky I really am. While that is ultimately the reminder that I have received, it coming in that form would not have been of much good to me. In fact, I can already visualize how I might have responded to a comment like that and the argument that would have followed.
God had a better way and that was to introduce me to No Passing Fancy. As I have talked with her for sometimes hours at a stretch, we have shared our lives. What it is like for me in South Dakota and her in South Africa. I have never known someone who lives in a world that is so different from my own. I have learned much from her sharing her life, just what she is going to do that day. But it is not there in which I have been reminded of my many blessings.
I have been reminded of my many blessings by having to tell her about my life. I see how lucky I am not by comparing myself and my living situation to hers but simply by talking about mine in the first place. If I had told her everyting about my life but knew nothing of hers, I still would have had the chance to ponder just how fortunate I really am. I feel more joy in my heart now and more thankfulness and love for the Lord than I have in quite some time. God set me straight in a way that is both humbling and profoundly rewarding. He knows that I take things to heart more when I can see them for myself than when others point them out to me. God has shown me much grace through all of that and so I think it is time for another song.