"Church" is not a building, friends. It's not that one lady who didn't choose you to lead the small group when you felt you deserved it and left you hurt. It's not that unexpected leadership change, the worship service with not enough hymns anymore, or the committee that made a decision you didn't like. That is not the Church. At least, not as it should be.
The Church is where love collides with pain. Where the gates of heaven are shaken off their hinges simply from the sound of the prayers banging against them as the children of God hit their knees in intercession. Church is where Jesus is all there is, so everything is counted all as joy. There are challenges and struggles and disagreements because the church is made up of nothing but a bunch of sinners, make no mistake about it. But our family has been carried by our people who have asked their people who have asked their people and so on, until probably into the hundred of voices have been beseeching the Father on our behalf. And to be at the epicenter of it all? You realize just exactly how small you are....and how big this Jesus really is.
It's all true, friends. This Christmas story of a baby born to save a broken world? It's all true. When we see the news and feel the pain happening all around us, I know it sometimes feels like no loving God would allow this to happen. How could he? If it were true, why would people be murdered at a Christmas party? Why would cancer exist? Why would we be unable to watch the news without hearing about yet another senseless tragedy or natural disaster? None of it makes sense, not really. And of course no Facebook post is going to bring an answer.
But I know it to be true. I know it because no matter how much this sucks or how much the earth seems to be flying off its axis, I rest in knowing that none of this is coming as a surprise to Him. I drove home from the hospital recently with hysterical tears coming down my face and I screamed at God. Over and over, I pounded the steering wheel and demanded an answer as to why this was happening to our family. Was it a test? Some sort of refining process to make us closer to Him? Because if that's the case, He could keep it. I had no interest in channeling Job or any other such faithful servant. I just wanted it to stop and to go back to normal.
It was the first time I really remember really wrestling with God. And, like Jacob, I emerged not fully at peace and somewhat worse for wear. My problems were not solved and I had no magic answer. What I did have was the reminder that I was loved and that the One who loves me more than I will ever understand is not surprised, not taken off guard by any of this. In fact, He was pretty clear long ago that this would happen....that our world would destroy itself.
But "take heart," He said. "For I have overcome the world."
That night in Bethlehem, the Overcomer arrived. And right now, in this season as things are falling apart all around me, I need an Overcomer. On my own? I am nothing. I have nothing. I can do nothing.
So instead, I'm choosing to be held in greater hands than my own. I'm learning into my Church, the brothers and sisters who are going to battle on our behalf, many of whom I don't even know.
Church is meant to bring you closer to the cross. And that's exactly what mine is doing.