1. Pastor John and Leanna are gone taking much needed sabbatical
2. The gospel goes forward
3. Maturity happens
As we enjoy week 2 of guest and local preachers, we are also reminded of a palpable absence: at our staff meetings, on Sundays, and normal personal interaction with our senior pastor. We wish him well and hope he can rest assured that what God begins, he brings to completion.
This brings up a theme of leaving that Jesus often repeated. Jesus knew that his ministry would eventually end, like all of ours. We are to be eager and willing to serve and seek God when he can be found and when we have opportunity because we know our lives and seasons are short. Jesus’ ministry only lasted 3 short years but accomplished much. He knew that passing the baton was never just a matter of preparing for the inevitable to happen when he was gone. He knew that they would be given the Counselor in the Holy Spirit. It was rather that as they ministered in his physical absence, they would mature in their understanding and their love of God and of one another. They would grow as God’s word dwelled and lived in their souls and they would become Christlike in their persons, maturing day by day. Their faith becomes their own and they learn to own and embody the message now. Before they couldn’t fully accept or grasp it. Now it was fully handed to them. For them to steward and take the next step in the race to bring that message to others and the world is part of their continued process to maturity.
We often would love for all of life to line up perfectly before we proceed. Some would call this simply being prepared. But more often than not, the experience is that if we continue to wait for the right time, that time will not always come. There is something to be said for being prudent, but then there is a moment when we need to step out to follow God. When we are challenged to take a step of maturity toward God, obeying is often difficult and costs us something in the form of time, resource, relationship, or comfort. However, like the paralytic that got healed, would he have been healed if he had not picked up his mat? God is working on us and his desire is that as jars of clay in the hands of the Maker, we trust the master artist has a beautiful plan in mind to make us mature, beautiful, and strong, even if the process is uncomfortable and inconvenient to us. What may be stretching to you that God has been bringing to mind.
Leave with a short story.
Early on as a new wrestling coach, I was offered the head coaching job at a prominent program. In so doing, I felt inadequate but the experience would be invaluable. I can’t tell you how stressed out I was; learning new things and managing student athletes as well as those who were older and more experienced than I. But it was also a time that challenged and pushed me to grow has and bore fruit 10 times over in the form of becoming disciplined, becoming thoughtful of long term plans, and communication with people who demanded leadership from me. Learning all this in the fire and under the spotlight brought to light where I was weak and where I was strong. I don’t look back at that season as particularly pleasant, but rather a season in which I am still reaping rewards and benefiting from. There are lessons I am still learning that stem from that galvanizing experience in which I was obedient, yet struggled mightily.
My friends, by going forth, we are then healed. In obedience, we trust that God desires to save us, not destroy us. And trust that those whom He loves, He disciplines as his children. And those he wants more fruit to be born, he must prune. Cheers.