Friday, January 30, 2009

Where God wants us to be...

Dear Good Shepherd,

This morning at men's bible study, we finished chapter 11 and started to dig into chapter 12 of the epistle to the Hebrews. Chapter 11 is a famous chapter--a catalogue of the great heroes of faith, men and women who were willing, when called, to surrender their lives and possessions for the sake of the Promise of God. The promises God made to the great prophets and leader in the Old Testament were and are fulfilled in Jesus Christ. They gave up everything because they believed God's word even though they could not see God and did not fully grasp the meaning of the Promise.

But what was concealed to those who lived during the times recorded in the Old Testament, was revealed to us in Jesus Christ. We've not only heard the promises of God, but we have the Promise living in our hearts through Christ. So given the witness of their faith and deeds, given the courage of those who gave up everything for the sake of Promises they did not see in their lifetimes, how much more faith and courage and selfless sacrifice ought we, who have the Promise with us, to have and show?

This is how the author of the book of Hebrews puts it:

"Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us..."

Notice that "sin" is not the only thing that hinders us. There are other "weights" that prevent us from running "the race that is set before us"...things that are not necessarily sins, but that entangle us, preoccupy us, take our focus and energy away from following Jesus.

I wonder whether God might have wanted to move us from our old building and rectory for that reason...perhaps these things, good as they are in themselves, might have become “weights”, distracting and entangling us, consuming our time and energy?

Many parishioners have since the move said that they feel a new sense of “freedom”. The worry over the lawsuit is no more and Good Shepherd is free now to worship God without fear...even if we are unsure precisely where we will be doing so in the future. And that uncertainty is, without a doubt, intended to compel us both to prayer and to deeper trust in God's faithfulness and provision.

So in the course of three weeks, God has moved us into circumstances in which the fear of loss is gone (we've already lost) and the necessity of faith is ever-present (we don't even know what will happen tomorrow).

And somehow I think that we are precisely where God wants us to be.

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