Monday, July 16, 2012

Taking In, Pouring Out

I have stepped away from everything in my spiritual life that looked familiar.  The church that has my heart, my church of 13 years, is a memory from where I'm sitting now.  The Bible study that I've learned with and served in for the past 6 years is in the same rear view mirror.  To say that I have been a little lost and wondering is an understatement.  To some people, a change in Bible study happens every semester or year.  That's not me.  My life is shaped by the hands of my Creator and the tool in His hands for the last decade has been consistently the church and BSF.  Those 2 entities have become so much my heartbeat that I now try to remember events in my past based on what I was studying or teaching in one of those 2 places.  I actually said to a friend at the beginning of these transitions that I had no idea what my spiritual life would look like at the end of this year.  God did.  Where I had thought He was calling me to attend church wasn't where I actually am attending church.  What I thought was my reasons for leaving one church were actually surface level symptoms of much bigger issues in my heart.  Where He has taken me over the last 4 months has shaken me to the core. 
Most Sundays, I tell Him I just want to go back home to the church that I know.  Then, I drive downtown and walk into a building that isn't even a church.  I take communion with real wine.  I do cooperate readings. I listen to a former professional baseball player preach.  I sing to a worship leader that refuses to wear shoes on account that he wants to be completely connected to the holy ground he's standing on.  A year ago I would have called this place disobedient, too progressive, wanting to make a show of God, wanting to be different to be "relevant."  Now I see it in a whole new light. 
First of all, the baseball player can preach!  Also, this church has this idea that you come and get filled on Sundays.  The rest of the week you dump it all out on the neighborhood and city you live in.  Yeah, there is ONE time each week where the church comes together and re-unites, takes communion, and gets fed from the Word of God.  The worship is intense.  The tears flow.  The release of the week is palpable.  The drinking in of Truth and Mercy makes a loud slurp.  Then, we are reminded that the gospel doesn't happen at church.  We are told to be intentional by doing things that make us accessible to our neighbors like taking evening walks around the block and hosting parties.  Several men leave church and go hang out on Lancaster with the homeless...not to give them anything but to build relationships in the name of Christ. 
I always thought that when God stretches you it is because you've learned something new.  You see Him differently.  The stretching that I'm encountering is releasing all of my notions about church and just being church.  The word "service" takes on a whole new meaning when you think of it as dumping all you know of Jesus on those around you that are desperate for it.  He is calling me to do weird things, to live counter culturally.
As I pray throught this, the Lord constantly brings me to people who are living out the pouring out.  Katie Davis's story is unlike anything I've ever heard.  Her desperation for the Lord drives me to cling to Him more.  As Our Own captured my heart fromt he moment I read the first tweet about them.  God's Littlest Angel orphanage has me dying to adopt Haitian babies.  These are just a few from around the world.  These same tragedies are happening here in my own city.  Apathy and uninformed living are just no longer an option.  Change is coming.

"Father, You are so worthy of a completely surrendered life from me.  You are faithful and true and are trustworthy with my hands.  Give me an obedient heart to answer Your call and to dive in where I see needy and hurting people and not just pray for them.  Give me grace for the least of these and grace for myself when I fail."