August 21, 2013

No Need for Discouragement

Do you ever get discouraged in your ministry? I certainly do. In fact, it pains me to say it but, throughout the past year, my eyes were too quick to see holes, my own failures, what disappointed people (whether in reality or in my imagination), or what I felt was lacking in our church. If that's not a recipe for discouragement, I'm not sure what is.

In my season of discouragement, I had forgotten that there is a bigger story being written and that I am just one character--a blip on the page really--in a plot beyond my comprehension. By forgetting, I walked around with the weight of the world on my shoulders, thinking that the transformation of our city, the hearts that dwell here, and the healthiness of our church had so much to do with me.

This summer, I remembered that I am not the central character of this story and how good it is that I am not.
My tunnel vision expanded when I sat in different churches of different denominations in different cities. They held different kinds of people, different styles of worship and preaching, and different types of leaders. One preacher rapped in the sermon. One service was heavily structured by liturgy. One church met in a high-rise building. In one, we sat on couches, while in another we sat in old, creaky pews. But in each one, we heard the gospel. We heard Christ exalted in cities where many do not know Him. We participated in remembering Him through the bread and the cup.

Several times, sitting among brothers and sisters I didn't know, I cried uncontrollable tears. It was just so unbelievably freeing and life-giving to be among the Body and recognize the Spirit at work.  I recognized in a profound way, sitting on those pews and couches and set-up chairs, that the Church is God's. It's not the pastor's who is leading or the pastor's wife who is sitting in the front pew (or couch or folding chair). Of course, I knew that to be true and would have said it to be true, but to experience it anew, that's a different story.

It's the bigger story, that's what, this story that God is writing all across the world, this story that our alive God is working out even now. He is drawing people to Himself in different ways and through a variety of people with differing styles. He is sustaining His Church.

This summer, I met and interacted with many of the characters in the greater story that God is writing. I read about them in books. I heard how they've put a stake down in the places God has called them to and committed to be faithful to Him there. I met people who are simply saying, "Here I am, Lord, send me." I received from those who are laboring diligently in the ministry of the Word, and I was privileged to encourage and pray for those who are my co-laborers.

I tell you this because this experiential recognition crucified my discouragement. There is no need for discouragement when we know that the Spirit is moving and that there are faithful laborers scattered all across this globe. I am one, but I am one among many in our church and community, my husband and I are two among countless pastors and pastor's wives, and each of us are one part of a great, great story that is still unfolding.

There is no need to be discouraged, sisters. The Spirit is moving. Christ is sustaining His Church. We have co-laborers faithfully sharing and living the gospel. We are not alone.

Only let us be faithful with the one part of the story we're in. Only let us remember the true Author of the story, and that He is writing it even now.