Let Me Tell You a Story About God's Faithfulness

Saturday, December 22, 2018

Let me tell you a story about God's faithfulness.

This past year has been one of the toughest I've ever had, but God has repeatedly shown up.

He showed up when I left a church earlier this year because I disagreed with the staff values. He showed up when I was bullied. He showed up by giving me the space and time to heal. He showed up through the life-giving relationships he's given me these last few months.

He showed up a few weeks ago during a job interview at a church in Ohio.

The lead pastor was caring for a grieving family and was absent during the first portion of the interview. It was during this first part that I shared the reason why I had left my job at the last church: there were four staff values with which I strongly disagreed.

The lead pastor joined us, and the rest of the interview went well. Right before I left the room, the lead pastor turned to me and said, "Christina, you should know that there are four values that we as a staff have here at this church."

Four. Values.

They were the EXACT opposite of the four values from the previous church, item for item.

I started sobbing right there in the interview. The poor pastor had no idea what was going on because, once again, he wasn't there when I detailed the tension in my previous job. I still can't tell this story without crying because I am so in awe of God's grace and provision.

Next month I'll be starting a pastoral job where I'll be empowered to live faithfully in my calling. Back in August I wrote about how I believed that God delivered me for a purpose, and he's now revealed what that purpose is. God is redeeming my painful experience and writing a better story for me.

God is so, so faithful, friends.

Things That Keep Me Up at Night

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

There are a few things that keep me up at night.

One of those things is chronic insomnia.

The other thing is my overactive brain that only seems to gain momentum while the rest of the world sleeps. My doubts and worries grow louder in the quiet shroud of night.

I worry about the issues where I still live in the tension of “not knowing.” I worry that I need to have my mind made up, that I’m not representing God or my faith well if I concede to ambiguity. What things need to be “black and white”? What things can operate in the gray middle without damaging my Christian witness? And where do I draw these lines?

I worry about our current theological understanding of “heaven.” My years as a children’s pastor make me especially concerned about the Church’s failure to talk about eschatology (the “last things”) faithfully. We talk so much about “dying and going to heaven,” but what about our Christian hope in the bodily resurrection? What dangers have arisen because of our neglect to present all of the good news? How do we communicate this life after life after death to children in responsible and appropriate ways so that they don’t have to unlearn their concept of “heaven” when they grow up?

I worry that the Old Testament is rapidly becoming unread and subsequently obsolete. Why haven’t we as a Church been able to present this large portion of God’s Story in ways that inspire and move people to fall in love with Yahweh’s goodness and mercy? What are the implications for our identity as God’s people if we view ourselves solely within the parameters of a “New Testament Church”? And how can I gently remind the Church that the Old Testament is worthy of being read and understood, not just for historical value but because it is God’s inspired Word?

Finally, I worry about how we present the relationship (or don’t present it at all, for that matter) between God’s love and God’s holiness. Our Christian culture views love as God’s primary characteristic, but does this cheapen God’s love for me if God is only doing what is innate to God’s self? God is certainly a loving God, but he is also righteous. How are these characteristics related? And what are the dangers to the present Church’s tendency to proclaim that “love wins” over and against God’s holiness/righteousness?

As all these thoughts swirl and spiral in the stillness of night, I can’t help but to be reminded that I am not alone. God is so present in these moments, reassuring me of his faithfulness to me as a wrestle and wonder.

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be exploring each of these ideas and I hope you’ll join the conversation with me. You see, I’m a recovering know-it-all; I am still learning to grow in God’s truth and grace. Please weigh in and teach me a few things, too. And let’s pray together that God’s faithful presence is made known to us in this process.

So grab your pillow and sleeping bag – it’s time for a slumber party.

What keeps YOU up at night?

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