The beauty of the gospel story is that we are not a bride with a father who has withheld a bridegroom to take care of us. He provided one. Jesus was given to us so that we know we will be taken care of. With his broken body and his blood, he met us at the alter vowing with his life to take care of us and love us forever. That’s the story of gospel. That’s your story.
In a world full of self-love and apathy, we don’t need less self-clarity, we need more. If you read this and see no need for self-clarity or self-awareness, then I might encourage you that you are the very person who needs this. I’d urge you to be curious about how you are being experienced by others, to find honest people to tell you how you are doing in loving others, and find tools that might help you on that journey.
It’s alarming how easy it is to forget what we were saved from and that it was not because of our own effort, but only by the grace of God. So subtly can we start to believe that our spiritual maturity simply happened or that we’ve gotten to where we are merely by our effort.
I believe there is an underlying narrative surrounding the value of women that threatens the influencing and flourishing of women in the local church. Beginning to grasp that reality was a painful and confusing process for me. Sometimes this narrative shows up in the most heartbreaking of ways in the local church—like in stories of the devaluing and abuse of women in the church. Sometimes the narrative is less extremely represented through the absence of women in ministry. And sometimes, like in my case, I didn’t think this narrative applied to me at all because of the good ministry situation I was in.
Growing up in the church, I thought of my pastors as Supermen. I saw them as having an unachievable level of skill and godliness. I remember the folks in our church context thought the pastor was perfect. He didn’t take days off. He visited the sick at the hospital every day, and he never seemed to sin, at least not publicly. So, when I felt the call to ministry, I was overwhelmed by this bar of perfection. I knew myself, and I knew my sin. I thought, “I can never be like that!” or at least, “The people I serve in ministry can never know I sin so much.”
My all-time favorite movie is Forrest Gump. I am convinced it is the GOAT of movies. It teaches history and was on the cutting edge of cinema with a great plot line and amazing actors. One of the best scenes in the movie is when Forrest and Bubba were in Vietnam and they were packing through a downpour of rain for several days. They stopped one night to rest, and it was extremely muddy. Bubba says to Forrest, “I’m gonna lean up against you and you lean right back up against me. That way we don’t have to sleep with our heads in the mud.”
Imagine what Adam and Eve felt when they found out about Abel’s death. Can you imagine the shame? They knew their son had died, in part, because they had eaten the fruit of the tree. Their son was dead when in fact they should have been dead instead.
My wife and I recently found ourselves outgrowing our car. Getting our child, stuff, us, and groceries in one car often felt like a game of Tetris. As we began considering a new vehicle, however, I felt the emotions begin to rise. I would download a used car app, look at prices, then delete it again.
The deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and others have shaken our world and lead to much unrest within our nation. Our own city, and particularly the black community, is giving voice to the systemic and personal injustice people of color face in our society.
Recently I have found myself abnormally sad. Worshiping at home on Sundays rather than with the church body and news stories about how people have been affected by COVID-19 are two things that have triggered this emotion.