It’s been a good, weird, rough week and month. I can handle it, but there are criticisms that can wear you out, however partly true they might be.
However, I am reminded of the kindness of Christ over and over, and I must take comfort and contentment in his goodness to me.
We meet four times a year as a connectional church in a body called presbytery. Our geographical boundaries for this cover all of Oklahoma and Texas down to Waco, so we usually meeting in the Dallas area. Our meeting this weekend took place at the beautiful Fort Worth Presbyterian Church. We hear reports, vote on matters, debate issues, see friends and make new ones, decide on candidates for ministry, pray and worship. These can be tedious and wearing, but they can also be joyful. They’re always important, even if that’s not always readily important.
The delight of ministry was when I stood at the worship service and was called to worship by my friend Darwin Jordan. Then my friend Ryan Anderson preached about how Christ loves me no matter how important I think I am or am trying to be. He led us into the Lord’s Supper, so we walked up to take the body and blood of Christ. I was served by my friend Wade.
Wade is now a Ruling Elder at Fort Worth Pres. Wade was at the very first RUF we had in my living room in August 2001 at OU. Wade and Courtney were some of the very first couples I married. Wade led music for me at RUF for a long time. Wade and I have been through it in the good and bad. He has been a faithful friend. He is now an officer of the church, and just like he had done many times before – he served me. I walked out with tears in my eyes as I thought about all of the students who have become friends who have become adults and some who have come to serve the church either officially or unofficially. I am thankful. Humbled. Joyful. Delighted.
Last night I visited in the apartment of a new couple for a membership interview. These are always sweet times because the people still like us!
We sat and talked about how they met the Lord and how they met each other. They told me about why they like our church and what they see in it. They think we’re reaching out in a way that is somewhat unusual. They noticed a kindness and friendship in the people who want to get to know each other, even who will walk around during the meet and greet time. They love the hymns and also feel comfortable inviting others to church. They like the contrast and tension between old and new. They have been welcomed in a CityGroup, and are eager to volunteer their time and gifts to help make it a better place. Neither had been members of a PCA church. One will be baptized as a new believer in the days ahead.
I left so very encouraged about them, and so thankful that the Lord allows me to hear stories like this one. We share our poverty. We walk with the broken. We are well acquainted with grief. We don’t shy away from the tough stuff all around us. But there is joy too. There is goodness. There are positive moments and rescues and stories and hope. I needed that this weekend.
I know we can do a ton of things better. I know we can make a million improvements. I know we aren’t even close to getting where we want to go. I know we have to grow up. I know my failures are mammoth and seen by others.
I also know that God does love me and he loves his church. He’s bringing in new people who are available and excited and he’s still drawing his sons and daughters to himself through the years to build his church forever. I don’t always see and understand that. I often doubt it. I can be such a cynic. But then I’m reminded amidst the policies and procedures and decisions and the doubt that Jesus is real and he really loves me and you and that’s good news indeed.