Friday, September 02, 2011

Reflections on the fog

I will probably go to my grave thinking that I have really never worked very hard in my life, except maybe those brief, exhausting temp jobs at the steel sheeting factory, walking 40 ft. pieces of steel to the end of the machine with thick gloves on, and letting the corner fall, or maybe the truly busy times in restaurant work, or in the hot, stifling kitchen washing dishes at MBI. Otherwise, well, what I do just can't be work. Talking with people isn't work. Typing on the computer isn't work. Visiting people in homes and hospitals isn't work. Preaching...well, that comes close, maybe. I know because I'm always starved after I'm done. But still...come on... The internship program...well, that's a riot.

But there are moments of feeling overwhelmed in this line of "work," this "ministry" that we are involved with. Now is one of them. This is a critical time in the life of both the first and second church. We almost lost Martín at the first church to a fall and an electrocution, but thank the Lord, he'll be back, most certainly better than ever (maybe not physically, but in every way that matters). The second church is at a cross-roads, both leadership-wise and building-wise. What will happen?

I joke that I can "see" things. Of course, I can't really, but there are elements to life that are...predictable. Given the right people, the right support structure, a couple of decisions that are risky, but wise, and perhaps most importantly, the right moment, you just know. It's going to happen. One of my favorite quotes is: The best way to predict the future is to create it." Overshadowing everything is the smile of a Father that wants you to succeed in following a mandate that you know is falling right in line with an eternal direction. In a sense, you can't lose. You probably won't get to where you're going in a straight line, or in the way you thought, or on the time-schedule you thought, but you'll get there. It's a promise.

Nevertheless, there are times when the complexity of reality, both spiritual and otherwise, makes it hard to see. A cloud, or fog, is composed of tiny droplets, but it's difficult to see because they are really tightly packed together. Fog.

Fog can be internal, but there are usually answers to that fog, namely repentance and obedience (I don't mean to imply this is easy). External fog, well, that you just have to deal with. Usually, it involves aspects of life totally out of your control. This requires both faith and trust. It means there will probably be conflict. Legal issues. Hurt feelings. Varying degrees of disagreement. Setbacks. Here in Mexico, where the law and the truth are, shall we say, flexible, even ethics issues can be challenging. It's one thing to walk along trusting in a dim light of God's never-too-clear in the details will. It's another thing to walk with a whole bunch of people through those times. Course corrections, or even errors, are less noticeable, and less harmful, with personal decisions (unless your wife finds out :). The stakes are much greater when attempting to lead a church.

Ok, let me back up. If I or any other man leads a church, well, that's a mistake. The Holy Spirit truly does lead, and it truly is Jesus' church. He bought it, and paid quite a price. Neil Cole points out, ironically, that one point that is hardly ever mentioned in the essentials of church planting is the presence of Christ. Nevertheless...people follow people. The term "pastor" in Spanish literally means "shepherd." Right about now my wife reminds me that I am a missionary. Whew, thanks dear.

So back to the fog. So maybe walking through the fog is work. Maybe that's what Paul was talking about when he asked rhetorically, "Who is equal to this task." The resounding answer is, of course, no one. It is helpful for me to remember two concepts when the fog closes in. It is a sin to worry, and it actually does not help anything or anyone at all. And I have the resource available to "dejar caer", to allow my burdens to just drop off me, knowing that He cares.

I still wish I could work up a sweat doing it.

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