Tonight, I struggle to write this blog. Why, I ask myself? I know a piece of it is because I have had a hard time putting it into words myself. It has taken a few weeks to even understand exactly what I have feeling … or “wrestling” with, if you will. So what do I do? I pack up my backpack and head to the newest coffee shop I found, about 20 minutes from my house. I have become a fan of lavender lattes as of late, and they make some pretty darn good ones! My hope is that somehow the atmosphere and getting out of the house will help me craft what I want to say…. so here goes.
As some of you may or may not know, I moved to Colorado just last year after having been planted in northern Illinois for almost exactly 13 years. Me and the family left a wonderful little church in Plainfield, one that will always hold a special place in my heart. I knew coming to Colorado Springs would afford us a plethora of churches to visit, and I am thankful that God helped me find the one I am at now. I have a great home group and am growing in relationship with them. I am helping with something small every week, and I am gradually getting to know people. Yet last week the very last thing the youth pastor said in his sermon on Jonah hit me harder than I wanted to admit:
What are YOU running from?
That question sat in my soul like the ones that do when you know the Holy Spirit is speaking to you oh-so-very-directly. The kind where you might want to stick your fingers in your ears and go “la-la-la-la-la-I-cant-hear-you!” — but you can, of course, because, well, it’s the Lord and He is pretty gentle but persistent when there is something He wants you to pay attention to.
Yes Lord, I’m listening. What AM I running from?
The more I sit and think, the more I become very aware of the fact that I am running from diving in and getting more connected, and I hate that recognition. I know that here, the best way is to join one of their book studies, and that is the LAST thing I want to do. I frankly have no desire to open up and share my entire life with strangers right now. The 8 friends I have made are keeping me connected just fine, thank you.
Yet the sense that is no longer sufficient for me is relentless. I know I am in a phase where I have a lot to learn, and my argument that school starts in the fall so of course I won’t have time – seems petty. Somehow I realize that sitting on the sidelines is no longer going to be an option for me if I am to dive in and find the life here that I want….
And suddenly I realize I have to face something I have not wanted to face. Maybe you’ll get this, if you’ve been there, or you know someone who has:
Because of other peoples’ hurt and pain over the church, I fear what they will think when I dive in again. How can I go back to the church (big C) when she sometimes gets it wrong, when she has hurt and caused pain and brokenness in so many lives, lives I have had front-row seats to watch?
I certainly have been the recipient of some of those wounds. I have had to keep secrets and hold my tongue for the sake of showing respect (or out of fear); I have seen hurts be perpetuated and felt helpless to make a difference. I hear the voice of the critics and those who have walked away … and sometimes all I can say is… I know.. I hear you.. and I am so, so sorry… how I wish I could take away your pain…
With so many of her flaws, why could I ever go back?
I know that is probably a question some of you have asked as well.
For me – my answer is this, no matter how much it might not make sense to some:
How can I not?
Because I still think the Church is beautiful when she gets it right. I can’t give up on her. God is doing new things in her, every day, and yes it takes a long time to move mountains but I can’t let go because the deep love of Jesus is so much more than we have ever understood. I want to be part of what helps fix the wrongs and mends the wounds, if that is even possible.
Because I know this thing of faith is still a treasure in a field that is worth selling all I have. This kingdom where everyone has a place – old and young, Republican and Democrat, black and white, native and immigrant, rich and poor, gay and straight – they all belong.
Because this project God started is still a good one and the world still needs to be transformed by radical acts of love and mercy. The poor still need Justice, the forgotten and ignored still need to be lifted up and told they are beautiful and made in the image of an amazing God who loves without limits. Because we still need to learn how to look someone we don’t understand in the eye and give them the respect they deserve, and I firmly believe it is the work of God in someone’s life that can make that kind of lasting change if we will submit to it.
That is the kingdom work, my friends, and our world is crying out for it.
So wherever you are – if you are in church, if your relationship with church is tenuous at best, or if you have given up – know that the treasure you once found is still in that field. Push past the fights over land rights and ownership crap, close your eyes to everyone picketing around the piece of land that say its not for sale and you can’t buy it because you aren’t worthy or because its not going to matter anyway.
The treasure is still worth holding onto, and your Jesus is still there waiting, just for you. I’m pretty sure he is hurting for what you have had to put up with too.