Monday, 4 November 2013
This past Sunday was one of the most moving and transformative days for me spiritually in a long time. On Saturday night I went to bed exhausted. Not because of late nights/early mornings with the kids, and not because of physical exhaustion as a result of the demands of a busy life, but a deeper exhaustion: a spiritual one. I have personally been through one of the most difficult seasons of my life and this past week I hit the proverbial wall. Basically it was a lot of "behind the scenes" stuff that has been building for months and finally I had suffered one betrayal too many. I was done. As a senior pastor, I've tried to be the "spiritual one"--to rise above to fray as it were. But secretly I was deeply hurt by people I expected better from. And I was more than hurt too - I was angry. While that anger might be justified, it had morphed into something else: self righteousness. And I needed to repent. As with most bad attitudes what began in the secret places of my life began to spill into other areas. It even began to affect my interactions other with some people who loved and cared for me. Through the hurts I had suffered I had tried to be humble, to be forgiving, to be "above it all", but in the end, all my efforts weren't enough. I was failing at trying to be godly - I needed a divine intervention.
On Sunday am I woke up from 8 hours of sleep well-rested and ready to face the day. The first thing I did was check my email and found a message from someone inviting me to listen to a sermon from James MacDonald titled, "Drop the Rock". I sat down with my coffee (everyone but Ben was asleep) and watched the message with my Bible open to John 8. It was the story of the woman caught in adultery. And It was about the self-righteous men who had all picked up rocks to stone the immoral woman caught in the very act of this sin. I realized that in my hurt and anger, I had picked up a couple of rocks. The Rocks of Rightness and Resentment. I needed to "drop the rocks" in order to get right with God. And as I did God did a work in me.
I arrived at church realizing that my prepared message (on the topic of "grace" can you believe that?) needed to be changed from a more technical examination of this truth to a more personal one. I had been in no way ready to preach on this central truth before I was willing to drop my rocks. But God knew and as a result of His grace I showed up broken and humbled by God that Sunday. I had no idea how the morning would unfold, but God did. And He showed up. God showed up in a most powerful way: a way that we have not experienced for a long time in our church. There were tears of repentance and brokenness. There was a spirit of communion and freedom. And there was an air of abiding love. As we celebrated communion together, I was struck with how God is more than willing to show up if we would just repent and get out of His way.
I write this as one chastened. I realize my constant need for God and His grace every day. I cannot survive without Him showing up in my life. Thank you God for loving me enough to correct me. Thank you for sending brothers and sisters in the Lord to hold me accountable. Thank you for forgiving and cleaning me and making me whole. Thank you for showing up. I need You. My family needs you. Our church needs you. We all need You.