July 20 2017
Carolyn Haas | Co-Lead Pastor | Substance Church | Minneapolis, MN
Planting a church is a lot like having a baby. You pray that one day you could have one. But when it finally arrives, all you can pray is: “Lord, help me survive this” (and fit into my old jeans!) But seriously, leadership is filled with overwhelming moments.
I vividly remember the pain of planting our church, Substance. We were ARC church plant #15. And those first few years were total chaos. To make matters worse, I was a young mom with two feisty toddlers. And for the church to survive, I had to take on the awkward job of running the kids ministry as well as the financial accounting – both of which were stressful.
Don’t get me wrong: I knew God wanted us to plant our church; and yet, I had never felt more out of my comfort zone in my life. Quickbooks felt like quicksand. And I didn’t even hear my husband preach a single sermon for the whole first year (because I was always filling in for kids volunteers who didn’t show up!) In many ways, I felt like I was stuck on an endless treadmill. And perhaps that’s how you feel right now? But, if that’s you today, be encouraged: Your current season is temporary. And if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s this: God is always working a plan.
Recently I was reading Joshua chapter 6 (the story of Jericho). The Lord said to Joshua, “I have given you Jericho, its king and all its strong warriors.” But God followed this up with a rather strange instruction: “You and your fighting men should march around the town once a day for 6 days.” But why? And why should the “fighting men” do this? Won’t it wear them out?
To put it another way, the fighting men were NOT told to fight but rather to march. Talk about being forced out of your comfort zone! I mean, “what if Jericho attacks? What if they shoot arrows? Do we still march instead of fight? Who’s to say this march will even last for seven days?” The fighting men probably thought: “Let’s just attack! Don’t let them fortify.” In other words: “Lets do what we’re best at, which is fighting!” But check out what Joshua 6:8 says, “they started marching in the presence of the Lord.”
Of course, looking back, we all know how the story ends. We know that after seven long days the walls came tumbling down. But they didn’t know this! None of it made sense. Marching was a tedious and illogical act of obedience that certainly led to questions like: “Why me? Anyone can march? Why do this for six days? What affect will this have on the end result, aside from exhausting me?” Yet, even still, they “marched in the presence of the Lord.”
At some point or another, God calls all of us to do similar tasks. And sometimes, His requests make sense. But other times, it’s a tedious march. It’s logging receipts. It’s crying babies. It’s literally going in circles.
But God never calls us to simply march. Rather we do it in the “presence of the Lord.” In other words, welcome God into the pain and discomfort of your current circumstances. And here’s why:
What if the very tedious thing God is asking you to do right now, is going to cause walls to tumble down in your life and change history for generations?
What if part of your story right now is doing the tedious in the Presence of God?
Obviously, we now know: God had a glorious victory planned at the end of that march. So, whatever your march is, don’t give up on your sixth lap. And don’t take any steps without surrendering to God’s presence. Whatever your difficulty, be sure to proclaim as David did, “Surely I have a delightful inheritance” Psalm 16:5. And eventually, when your march is complete, it WILL be so.
July 20 2017