Tuesday, July 7, 2009

ephesians 3:20

About Colombia. About not going this summer. And about how God's got this crazy way of working things, how I'm able to look back and see his hand working in this summer, and particularly how it isn't so much that he's worked things in ways that have been huge blessings (although that's certainly the case), but more that he's used those blessings to put me in a position where I have no idea what to do. What I mean is that I've got a decision to make, one that had me ready to start crying from frustration yesterday. But I'm being vague.

Sometime around the end of May I got a chance to go to Colombia for two weeks. And let me tell you, I was so excited and happy and all we had left to do was call Alicia's dad to confirm the dates and then buy the plane ticket. And sometime in about the twelve hours between making the decision and getting her dad on the phone again, I started thinking about all the things I'd already commited to for the summer. The problem was that the dates I'd originally hoped to go weren't going to work, and the only ones that would work would have me leaving in the middle of the freshmen orientations and the evangelism class I'd started. I also had a friend coming to stay with me the weekend after I would have flown out, and I'd really been looking forward to the weekend, just getting to know her better and all of that.

So I ended up staying. And more than I'm not, I'm glad I stayed. I really am. I would have had an incredible time in Colombia, I know that--it wouldn't have been perfect, I know that too, but it would have been good and I would have come back able to talk and talk in Spanish. But here--and I've said this nearly every single post since May--I've been incredibley blessed with relationships and I feel like everything's somehow become more and more about God and so he's blessed me that way too.

I stayed because of commitment. I didn't want to let people down. Now I'm thinking about that as a motivator in decision making, and I want to be careful. Because some of the things I thought I was staying for ended up having next to no part of my summer. That's not exactly what I mean, how do I word that? I'm talking specifically about working the orientations. Now, while I really, really am grateful to the people who came and helped out, I came out more frustrated than anything else. And bitter. Man, just bitter about people. And in different ways, but for similar reasons, it's only gotten worse as the summer's gone on. And my thought is, wow, what a waste of my time. But what's that? Well that's crap, I can't go on with an attitude like that, whether I'm angry or annoyed or hurt or even if I start thinking that I don't care.

So jumping to another part of this summer. First, it's important to know that I've been jumping around between churches for well over a year now and for the life of me I haven't been able to find one that feels right. I'll like them, but for some reason none of them have felt like the church I should be at. I've been going to Lifepoint for about four months now and I like it, I think it's a good church where God's doing some pretty cool stuff, but it's 'the church I've been going to' more than it's 'my church.' It's not my church. No religious jokes intended, but I feel like in some sort of limbo, just kind of floating around and going to churches knowing that none of them have been the right ones, but not really sure where else to go in the meantime. It's interesting, because at Lifepoint Sunday the pastor was talking about how you can't ''date the church,'' which is what I've been doing in a way. My intentions aren't to not commit to one--it's only that I haven't found the right one, but I can't not go to church in the meantime.

But then there's that evangelism class I've been going to with Pneuma/Grace people. And a few weeks ago I started going to their Sunday service (it's at five in the evening). Now, Pneuma has the feel of an on-campus ministry, but it really is a church. And I'll tell you what. It fits, it really does. What's that verse about the word being our bread and butter or something? Not to say that topical sermons with scriptural basis aren't as good as scriptural sermons that discuss a topic (you guys know the difference I'm talking about?). I only mean I prefer the scriptural ones, I guess. And that I feel like suddenly, bam! I feel like I had no idea I was so thirsty the last three years and suddenly I've been plunged into lake and I am drinking it up. I know that the whole not knowing I was thirsty thing is mainly my own fault, mainly my insistence on having God drag me toward the good things he has for me kicking and screaming. But I also know that this summer there's been a change and God is in the thick of it. And that I've found a church I feel like God's put me at, one that doesn't feel like a typical church, and one that will be very different come fall when most of the people who've been so encouraging will be gone. But one that I feel like I'm getting my bread and water from, that he's using to grow me up.

Where am I left, then? The problem is the rules. The problem is commitments. I've made commitments to things that I can't and don't really want to back out on. And I feel like God would have me honor those commitments, just like through honoring them this summer he blessed me so much in ways I didn't expect at all. So I'm okay there with all of that. I've got my commitments to the ministry I'm involved in and that's good and I do feel like I'm there for a reason. But I really feel called to this church. At least I think I do--honestly I have no idea what to do, but for the purpose of thinking it through at the moment-- So the problem is that this church is kind of an on-campus ministry. It's a church first and technically, but it's very small and mostly students and looks very much like an on-campus ministry. And there are unspoken rules about being in more than one. On the one hand I know they're good rules, they're meant to keep people from spreading themselves too thin. But it also feels like a bunch of politics. And ultimately, although I do serve the ministry I'm involved in and my church, I serve God first.

My worry is where I'm working out of, how I'm making my decisions. I'm praying, of course--and it occured to me last night in the middle of the sermon that Pneuma is a church, after all, and we're supposed to be involved in a church on top of our involvement in InterVarsity. So my worry in that is that I'm working out of a technicality and isn't that just another way of being deceitful, of bending the rules? But when suddenly I thought of that, I wondered if it was God telling me what I should do. It made sense. I've been worrying myself sick the last few weeks about this--what am I going to do? I want to be a part of this church, but I don't want to divide my time, I don't want to do something if I feel like I might have to keep things from people, etc. The problem is I'm already commited, but surely there's a way I can do both. Bam, that's when it occured to me. Well, it's a church, not another ministry, so I'm okay.

Mixed in there some is the bitterness I talked about earlier, although I don't think I'm making any decisions based on that. I think it's very important that most of the people I've been spending my summer with are leaving, so I know my motivation isn't there. Even apart from them I feel more poured into than I have in the last three years--that's not completely true, because through STIM and discipleship I felt very poured into this year, but otherwise. I don't know how to explain any of this. I'm frustrated and confused. Apart from praying, I have no idea what to do. On the one hand I feel like once I realize what the right thing to do is, I'll feel peace about it, and that's one thing I haven't really felt. But on the other hand, I also know that sometimes God wants us to jump out in faith. And maybe that's what I'm supposed to do?

It boils down to this: whatever happens, I've got to do it because that's what God wants me to do. I have no idea where he's leading me in this, and I'm not so sure he's going to tell me. Maybe he will, but maybe it's more about having faith that he'll work things for good. I'm just not sure. And I don't want to make any decisions based on frustration or anything like that. I just don't know.

If you've gotten this far, first of all that's crazy. This is mainly for myself, I think, just trying to think things out. But what's clear to me is that God is always surprising me. For the hundredth time, this summer--this summer that's barely more than half over--came out of left field. Who would have ever expected? And it doesn't just end with these great things--it's like he's saying, here's a picture of what I want to give you, but I want you to trust me, I want you to seek more of me. I want to bless you. So here I am in a situation where I don't know what to do, and I have to listen to God and trust him. There isn't anything else--I have to. It's like how God will capsize a boat to show you how he wants you to trust him to save you (cool story that happened to some friends of mine). He's like, let me give you this great thing because I love you, but let me teach you to trust me because I want more of you, and when that happens, you'll begin to learn to accept the even bigger blessings I want to give you. And on like that.

"Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think."
--Ephesians 3:20


  1. I hate it that politics work their way into church and things that should be strictly spiritual decisions. I know you don't want to hurt feelings or step on toes. I'm sure you will make the right decision based solely on what you're being called to do--and if people don't understand that, then that's too bad for them. Your obedience doesn't lie in their approval. You know all this stuff; I'm just going off on a tangent.

    Anyway, if you ever want a "Sunday" church, come to PC3 and sit with me and Jesse! That would be cool. (You may have already tried it out, but it can feel so big if you're there by yourself...) No pressure.

    Decisions in general are tough. Blah!

  2. So I'm here downstairs, still awake, because I'm crazy and silly and I finally finally just read this. Tomorrow we shall talk :)