I woke up this morning feeling like I had a spiritual hang-over.
Last night’s occasion and conversation left my spirit in high alert and anticipatory angst, and I woke up scratching my head in a dizzying grog. Words and ideas are swarming my head like a cloud of busy bees with no hive to call home. I have found myself using the word “disillusioned” and “disoriented” a lot lately.
Of course, moving to Minnesota was one great spiritual leap of mankind. Un-membering ourselves from our beloved church, leaving our family in the dust, and saying “farewell” to our perfectly-suited niche suburb would make one feel unstable, doubtful, and a bit disoriented. But the initial shock of moving was… like six months ago! I should have myself together by now!
And I did. At least I thought I did. But now, it feels like God is starting it all over again. Here goes round two…
Finding a church here has been quite the feat. Bobby and I have never “church shopped” in our marriage, so doing it for the first time has been one for the books. We have had one continuous and hearty conversation that has lasted six months long. We realized pretty starkly that we have a highly-developed ecclesiology. In other words, we have a lot of convictions and beliefs about the church. I wouldn’t consider us church-snobs though. At least I hope we aren’t. We don’t expect God’s people to be perfect, without flaw, or to serve our every whim and preference. The Lord humbled any sense of church pride in us by placing us in a wonderful church that was not above church conflict. The Lord taught us long ago that the church is messy— but beautiful.
So we “landed” on a church here in Minnesota. It had its flaws, just like any other church, but we were committed, hopeful, prayerful, and trusting where God had placed us. I was growing to love this church and sought to get involved in a way that would foster the love more. I found myself finally feeling settled, building relationships, getting into a rhythm and seeing this place as home. All was well.
And then January bombed down on us. We deemed January as the month where Bobby would get a job. Bobby’s tranquil sabbath semester came to a screeching halt. What should he do? We literally explored all sorts of options from being a Costco worker to finding some random high-paying job out there in this crazy career market. But as January inched closer and closer, Bobby kept praying for open and closed doors, rather than trying to open and peek through ALL the doors. What were the options that were available and most conducive to our lives as a seminary family? That’s the direction we took.
And it’s looking like the most wide-open door right now is a church job. And not just any church job. But a six-month-old church plant, church job. It’s just a little baby you guys! Last night we had the pastor and his wife over for dinner. Casual conversations surrounding this little growing sprout of a church filled the night and filled my mind with a swirl of thoughts. Bobby asked me afterward what I thought? And I didn’t even have words. I was like… “Um… I feel shy?” What thirty-year-old feels “shy?!” Apparently, me. Now, we haven’t committed yet. We are still in the “we are interested” stage, and they are still “interviewing” us in a sense. But from what I can tell, the decision is basically made. Well, let’s be honest, they are interviewing Bobby. He’s the one who would be hired as the music guy. But it all feels just so… new. And the in-betweenness makes me feel jumbled up inside. For example, we went to this new church plant this past Sunday, but this next Sunday we are both scheduled to serve in our “old” church. So I find myself in a very weird transition time, I feel caught up in the middle of the drama, and not entirely sure how to assess all that’s going on.
And all the while my thoughts, convictions, and feelings are tugging me up and down between all the churches. I’m reminiscing on our old church from Nebraska and craving the people, the comfort, the love that was there. Oh how our church back home made such an effect on our family! And now I am grieving the loss of our new “old” church that we became members of most recently. But then I turn around and am giddy and enamored by the potentials of a new church body and begin dreaming of all the possibilities that are there. I’m caught up in a tornado of church thinking.
And that’s why I woke up as I did this morning.
But my feelings beg another question, “What’s the big deal? It’s just church.”
And I suppose that’s true on the surface. But as I have sought to answer that in my mind, I realize that church in itself is a BIG deal. As I have sought to simmer down my explosive emotions over a seemingly “minor” change, I have stopped myself. This is no minor change.
“Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood.” (Acts 20:28)
Church is not just a social gathering. It’s not just a religious box to check off. It’s not a spiritual discipline that tags along nicely with your own personal devotions. The church is a blood-bought people. The church is Christ’s very own body. The church is “a pillar and buttress of the truth” (1 Timothy 3:15b). The church is a big deal.
So my freak-out is mostly justified. However, I need not freak out in anxiety, paralysis, or fretting that we need to figure out this “big deal” decision perfectly. Check out this awesome Bible verse about the church:
“But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose.” (1 Corinthians 12:18)
Bam. God’s the mastermind behind the church. He chooses us and moves us and arranges us together as he sees fit. And to that, I rejoice. To that, I trust. And to that I pray that the Lord would do just as he promised.
Move us as you see fit, for our delight in you and your glory!