I don’t know how many books I’ve read or conferences I’ve been to that have inspired me as to the potential of the church to be an amazing and dynamic community.
I have read so many books that tell stories of amazing transformations and offer insights into ‘how to’, but invariably when you go back and try to implement them either others haven’t read the books or been to the conference, or its just not as easy as it sounds in the books.
Maybe you’ve had that experience of ingesting an idea, feeling that rush of hope and vision only to try and make it work and discover that either you’re all thumbs, or people are too busy, or just plain disinterested – or the ideas were never meant to be transferred! After a while you don’t believe the books or the conference speakers… Or you may lose faith in your own leadership, or in your church community.
Or maybe reality is that life, faith and mission are pretty much a case of ‘keeping going’, of living in the mundane, often uninspiring and seeing the moments of beauty when they are present, while other times just walking on.
Much of what we read in books is what I’d call ‘highlight reel’ stuff – the kinda stuff that makes good stories to tell other church leaders, but reality is that most of life is ‘steady as she goes’. Its that constant quest for ‘more’ that can make us inappropriately dissatisfied with the beauty of what we have and can then undermine what God is actually doing in our midst.
Perhaps reality disturbs us because it doesn’t seem all that exciting, yet ‘reality’ is the ground from which all hope filled stories come. If we accept that, then we won’t miss the moments when they do come around.
Over the last few weeks we have been helping a young Iranian guy find his feet in Perth. I always smile at how helping ‘asylum seekers’ can be made to sound like cutting edge / sexy work, when in reality it can just be hard work because language is difficult and everything is slow and clumsy.
This morning our friend bought us lunch after church – a quarter of his weekly income went in one hit. It was a beautiful expression of thanks and one we couldn’t refuse. Then as we chatted in our home I heard Sam tell him that he had been praying for him. My 9 year old son wanted him to know that God cares for him as he struggles with loneliness and anxiety.
These are small things and probably not the stuff that most people get excited about, but in the ebb and flow of ‘real life’ they are God moments and they really are worth cheering for.
Maybe one day I’ll write my own book that will tell stories of the very real and ordinary stuff that really ought to be celebrated a bit more. Rather than being disappointed that 2000 people didn’t get saved last week if we begin to savour the golden moments of God at work we might find that hope that so often seems illusive.
Just a thought at the end of another ordinary – yet often inspiring week…