The month since Christmas has been long in many ways. Primarily work is the cause but time generally seems to drag in January regardless. It seems like Carols was 7 months ago rather than 7 weeks ago ( and before I know it, we will be counting down 7 weeks UNTIL Carols 2012!).
Honestly, I dreaded January for many reasons. Things I knew would happen, happened – new Governor elected; changes happening at work that go with a change in Administration; Legislature is b-a-c-k! More changes at church (yep – LLG is really a college professor now). Whooboy.
But – God – Sovereign God – always brings exactly what you need at exactly the right moment. And what I needed – wanted – was starving for – was worship. All year, in choir we have emphasized “It all begins with worship.” And I have honestly spent time thinking about this, praying about this, looking for this, while being all wrapped up in the “stuff” of church.
I need to be quick to say that I did worship during the weeks leading up to Carols and during Carols. For the first time in years during Carols By Candlelight , I knew I was in lockstep with God. So what happened and in fact “happened” almost immediately after Carols ended? I think today I really figured it out – I let myself once again get wrapped up in the “stuff” of church.
Before we sang “I Will Rise” this morning (which is one of my favorite Easter songs) and after we sang “The Majesty and Glory” which is the best anthem of our generation (literally Psalm 8), Lavon shared a story of his participation in a conference this past week with Francis Chan. Chan, the founder of Cornerstone Church in California, left that ministry to take his family to visit different parts of the world and to better understand the persecuted church. He visited Thailand, India, China. While in China, he met with a group of pastors who told about times they individually were persecuted – shot at – chased – beaten. These guys then wanted to know what it was like to be a pastor in America – Chan’s response was that American Christians dealt with parking and temp in the building and worship styles and s.t.u.f.f. (Cille’s interpretation). One of the older pastors stood angrily, picked up his Bible, and asked: “How do you get that from this (God’s Word)?” Whoa. It you want to see the picture of “perspective” in the dictionary, I think that will do it.
Dr. Paige then preached from II Corinthians 12. Verse 9 says “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.” His grace – more than sufficient for those Chinese pastors (who despite persecution are leading many to Christ). Guess what? His grace is sufficient – way more than sufficient – for the “stuff of church” and in fact for whatever life brings your way including change that you might not like, challenges you may not want, plans that might not be your idea.
His grace is enough. He is, after all, Emmanuel, God with us. I believe.