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Learning to follow Jesus means we must learn to live in the tension. Grace and truth, God’s sovereignty and our responsibility, joy and suffering, rest and obedience are a few of the tensions we must learn to live in so we don’t get stuck in the ditches that exist on either side of the road of faithfulness. Over-focus on one leads us to neglect the other.
One of these tensions I have been wrestling with the last few months is the tension between urgency and waiting on God. If you were to ask me how I’m doing, most days I’d probably lead with “Busy…” I hear it a lot from others, too, so I feel like I’m not alone. There are a lot of reasons for our incessant busyness. My biggest excuse often is some version of how weighty and hard the calling to ministry is. In other words, I tend to link all my frantic activity to faithfulness- that this is just what is required of us. This mission is big and massive and urgent, after all. In a lot of ways this is true. In light of eternity, the glory of God, and the need around the world, we all probably should spend and be spent for the Kingdom in ways we’re not currently doing.
Yet the other side of this tension pulls me closer to ‘center’ as we take a long, hard look at just what God is really inviting us into as His children. I’m learning its crucial to not view “faithful obedience” merely through the lens of checking the boxes on all the right “what’s” that God requires of me in this season of life, but equally caring about “how” I am doing these things, “why” I am doing them, and maybe most importantly- “who” I am becoming in all the good stuff I am doing. God is not merely after our behavior with the posture of “slave.” His work is much more thorough and beautiful than that. He is inviting us to join Him in a way of life, posturing as his beloved children with the imputed righteousness of Jesus already covering us as a free gift of His grace. Much of the output may even stay the same…but my, how much of a difference this makes. Wasn’t this true of our King and Savior? His life shows us what a life lived toward the Father looks like- a perfect, holistic obedience of proclamation, doing, and being. If He’s making me like Jesus, then this is the goal of my life, too!
Somebody much smarter than me said once that
God is not asking of us a less busy life, but a less busy heart.
On one hand, we should live with a sense of urgency,
but we must guard against the impulse to get in a hurry.
The way of life in the kingdom of God is often slow. It’s unseen, subversive, and upside down from the way of our culture and the ways our hearts are prone to label “success” and what “good” really means. We all want to enjoy the exquisite tastes of a home cooked meal, but we want it in ‘microwave’ time. God is teaching us that extended, focused time in prayer is not wasted time. That sometimes the ‘holiest’ thing I can do is say no to another meeting and wrestle my boy. I’m learning that there is joy in receiving moments as good gifts from His hands- not just the explicitly “Christian” things, but just small, everyday moments. Maybe that’s why God made the Sabbath a thing- to regularly STOP doing things for God and rest in who He is and what He is doing for us, in us, through us- that we’re loved by Him because He chooses to love us, not because we are useful to Him or getting it right today. It’s a declaration with our lives the theology we declare from our lips.
This has been a wonderful and miserable lesson as we continue to trek through our church planting residency. Wonderful, because its freeing to come to Jesus in our weariness and find burdens that are light and to find a deep soul rest as He speaks over us “It’s already Done!”
It’s also been miserable because I place so much pressure on myself to “figure out” the perfect strategy for this church-in-the-making. This season is such a sweet gift of learning, equipping, and preparation, but we’re learning that the goal of this time is not to get the answer to every question just right or develop the best vision, mission, and strategy. God is graciously beginning to shift the questions we are asking and He’s beginning to open up the bud of new life of the beauty of what kind of people He may choose to make us as The Oaks and what the Kingdom of God could look like in the neighborhoods of Denver.
The mission is extraordinary, but it is often carried out in really, really ordinary ways.
It’s extraordinary because it’s only possible by the Spirit tilling up the rocky soils of our hearts so that the good seed of the gospel may take root and grow into all He has for us (insert great reference about being Oaks of Righteousness here). The extraordinary parts are up to God and we by faith trust Him to do what only He can do. Our part is pretty ordinary. Just steady, small acts of obedience to what He has called us to do right now. If the gospel is to be preached into the everyday stuff of life, then the everyday stuff of life actually matters. We’re learning to change the conversation a bit from “how do we plant a church?” to “how can we really love God and love people” in a particular place over the long haul. Peterson once called faithfulness “a long obedience in the same direction.” I want to learn what these means as we dream really big dreams! When we see as God sees, we will begin to feel, speak, and do as God feels, speaks, and does.
Here’s a few more ways you can pray for us…
- Long story, but God has provided a better part-time job opportunity for me for my reminder here in Louisville. This month I transitioned away from my job at the coffee shop downtown and I’m now working for the YMCA. I’m working a couple mornings at the front desk, but the bulk of this new job is as Teen Leadership Development Director. I’ll be leading a program that works with youth throughout the city to cultivate leadership characteristics and creates opportunities for involvement and service in the community. I’m very thankful for this open door, as it is better for our schedule and our budget and is work more in line with some of the ways God has wired me. Cayla is enjoying her part-time job as a nanny—and it’s great for Beau to realize the world doesn’t revolve around him! His ‘only child syndrome’ is being challenged, and this is a good thing.
- Speaking of Beau, he’s growing a ton. He talks non-stop (wonder where he gets that from?) and never, ever stops playing. He is a lot of fun and we are tired! Pray for us as we learn all the new things that comes with each new stage of his growth, particularly that we would model what it means to follow Jesus in front of him!
- Cayla and I just launched a new Community Group with folk from Sojourn Church and we’re jumping in head-first with various ministries and bible studies. Pray for us as we continue to learn and grow in what it means to make disciples and build friendships, knowing we’re leaving again so soon.
- Pray for us as we come to our final few weeks of ‘field work’ where we have been strategically engaging a particular neighborhood here in east Louisville learning what it means to live missionally and lay the groundwork of what church planting actually is. Pray for gospel fruit here, even if we may never see it personally.
- Continue to pray for God to build our core team as He sees fit. There are several people who are in conversations with us at varying levels of praying about what moving to Denver could look like. We have a few people visiting Denver on vision trips this fall. Pray for clarity and a posture of obedience to what God is calling them to specifically and open doors as they pursue jobs and housing.
- Cayla and I will be traveling to Denver on September 21st-24th to meet with partners there and prayerfully focus-in on specific neighborhoods to take more steps in determining where God is calling us to live life beginning next Spring. We’d love your prayers for God to speak clearly as we seek direction and discernment on this important decision.
- We hit a technical road block this month to being able to begin raising financial support. We pray this will be solved in the next few days. Once all the logistics are finalized, please pray that we will have the humility, boldness, and energy to begin this journey of partnership development. Will you begin praying about how God may have you join us in this way?
We love you. Thank you for loving us by praying for us.
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