I don’t like admitting when I’m wrong–I think that’s human nature, humility is an acquired skill. As I was driving to a conference last week, I realized an hour away from home that I forgot something important that I was to bring for an assigned part in a united worship service. Being too far away to turn back and still make it on time, I dialed up my divisional headquarters and once I got on the phone with the coordinator of the effort, I couldn’t find the words to explain my face-palm moment other than, “I made a big, big mistake and I need your help.” Thankfully, grace was extended and a substitute for what I forgot was made available…but it doesn’t change the head game that follows when one drops one of the balls on their plate, no matter how small it really was.
In 2009, a great godly leader in our denomination preached a sermon at a territorial event that I often meditate upon. She challenged us on the topic of revival–how it’s God’s job to bring in the tides of revival, but it’s our job to prepare the beach. At that time, we were newly appointed in our last church and I took that challenge to mean that it was the time that the doors would be blown off and God was just going to flood that church in that tiny community with souls. I prematurely took that vision and ran with it. There were a lot of brick walls that we ran face first into and probably created more strife than necessary. While there was change that took place during our time there, it wasn’t what I expected the outcome to be. It just made me push harder into the areas that were frustrated and not changing according to my expectations. I was determined to make it right. To have the expected outcome. I struggled when we got the call appointing us to our current home because I felt like our work wasn’t done. That struggle is a totally different tangent, as it was a needless struggle, but, another story for another time.
We’ve been gun shy in setting our vision in our current church after feeling like we fell face first previously. (side note: I don’t discount the work of the Holy Spirit. There were some amazing things that happened there too) We’ve sat back and critically observed a lot of areas, spent a whollllleeeeeeee lot of time in prayer and listening, and came to the point where we really felt like we had a feel of the community–but vision wasn’t very clear. Lots of moving parts without a logical meeting point. Our place, our ministry, our church’s place, has very recently been made clear–along with the steps to take to move forward, but I find it extremely interesting, that the defined end point isn’t there. There’s logical progression to put in place with measurable markers of progress, we have the ability to see where things are headed…but to tie it up in a pretty package, we can’t do that right now. That disturbs me a little. That’s the stuff that keeps me up that night. It’s also my least favorite out-of-my-comfort-zone activity: stepping out in faith.
Caveat, this platform is not a place I choose to share my professional responsibilities, it’s sharing my heart of my own personal growth–reality of life is that the two intertwine in the most beautiful of ways and I don’t get to control that, so roll with me a little bit.
I don’t like the comfort zone threateners. The last two years of my life have pulled me out of the rut that I’ve been in physically, mentally, and spiritually. I think sometimes about all the areas I’ve changed and I can see how I’ve learned more in this short time than I have in a very long time combined. As I was driving home from this weekend (my time in my car is where all my deep thinking happens), something else I was thinking about brought me back to that illustration of preparing the beach. It’s not meant just for our ministries, it’s meant for our hearts too. If I can expect the vision to flourish and the steps to achieve it be fully completed, it’s not something that I can facilitate without having those changes and steps taken within me too (practice what we preach!). Ministry is always a work in progress, I’ll always be a work in progress–but both are a testament to the great and mighty works that only God himself can orchestrate.
While driving, a song that I recently put on my running playlist came one and I think it was the first time I ever truly listened closely to the words and let them sink in. I thought there was one part of me that had been fully healed–I mean, I put in the work along with the money, time, and resources that were necessary to treat the initial issue years ago–I had gotten to a pretty good place of acceptance, working through the garbage of it in a constructive way, and as much as I hate admitting this one because it still makes me physically ill to think about–I was able to start seeing how God used heinous action to change me and my testimony for His purpose. I thought that bump in the road was over and past. HA! See what happens when I think! This song hit me in a way to jostle the bolts loose in seeing all wasn’t said and done. I had forgotten a very important component in the base issue–forgiveness. I had forgiven God for allowing the unimaginable to happen. I had forgiven myself for the struggle in coping with the fallout that came from realizing that I had to deal with the harsh realities of what happened and not sweep it under the rug. I had forgiven in a couple other areas surrounding the issue. But there is one I haven’t forgiven…and was reminded of that. I got really angry. Really angry. I’m pretty tame in my anger most of the time…but I was driving down the road screaming at the top of my lungs at God. Thank goodness God can handle our misplaced anger…and that I was driving down isolated backroad highways without view of my behavior. I listed my novel-length list of reasons on why I rightfully shouldn’t have to forgive one party. I felt very justified in my response to my unforgiveness–bottom line being, there are some things you just can’t forgive. I’m human and stomped my two-year-old foot screaming out, “I don’t wanna!” And once I shut up, I got more answers.
It is very hard to forgive the unforgivable. I’ll be very blunt and honest in the fact I don’t even know how to begin wrapping my head around this unresolved issue. I’m lost. That’s scary for me. My eyes were opened to the fact that I’m not completely finished with this area of my life as was thought, there’s still another part to hash out. It goes against my own personal belief in the matter and I don’t have the steps, logical plan, or even a vague understanding of which foot to put in front of the other in this area…but I do know this: “To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you.” (CS Lewis)
Moral of the story: We don’t “arrive.” When we think in our humanness that something is accomplished, watch out…you may just realize that “I made a big, big mistake and I need help.” And now there’s more work to be done. He’s got something better in mind for me–the revival, but it’s my job to clean up my beach. God, help me.