“Reality, in my experience, is usually odd. It is not neat, not obvious, not what you expect,” C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity
I remember being an eighth grader on the last day of school day-dreaming of what high school would be like. I’d be wearing cool new clothes, dominating whatever sport I played, probably have a girl friend, and – above all else – I’d be older. I repeated this day-dreaming bit when my senior year of high school rolled around – picturing myself dating some cute girl with long, wavy brown hair and bright eyes; wondering about the kinds of classes I’d be taking; and of course, seeing the truth that is my college swagger.
What kind of sucks, though, is that the things I really hoped to have happen never did (except for the college-swagger thing; that’s 24/7). Season after season, term after term, I remained the dorky single guy either reading or writing every where he went. My expectations for the future were never met and it kind of hurt.
I feel that way now. Years ago I pictured my home church, Calvary Fellowship, to be the start of something new, something fresh, something beyond the religiosity that surrounds Christianity today. I saw Danny as kind of a Captain Kirk to the Christian world; almost entirely untraditional, but always fighting for the right cause. With him retiring and Calvary handing over the keys, my expectations – what I had hoped to have happen – are practically gone. That harsh reality hit me late last night. It felt as though someone I loved had died.
Two weeks remain for Calvary Fellowship as I’ve known it. Danny preaching from his awesome swivel chair; shaking the hands of strangers whose names I’ll forget the next day; and usually finding a Mexican place for lunch after service. And believe me, I plan to milk it for all it’s worth. But until each Sunday comes to pass, there’s one thing God wants me to ponder: What He’s doing in my life for the long haul.
You see, my day-dreams really only go a couple years ahead of me. Sometimes I’ll picture myself at 30 writing some awesome book that a lot of people buy or poppin’ the question to my bright-eyed girlfriend because that’s the age Barney Stinson said you can start thinking about marriage. But for the most part I usually only picture the next year. Whether I wanted to or not, I now have to picture my life less than a month from now.
It was tentatively announced that the new pastor would officially take things over on the 8th of January, which means I have until then to decide if I want to continue on with the new pastor or take a break and try something new. Honestly, I’m not sure what I’ll do, but I’m certainly looking forward to Christmas and New Years Day as sort of a break. Even so, it’s a lot of pressure to have to make a decision so soon. But the greatest news of it all is that God doesn’t day-dream like I do; He sees it all.
He sees the kind of man I’ll be when I marry, when I raise my children, and when I pass them off to their husbands and wives. He sees the character He wishes to grow within me. He sees my entire novel while I only see a page or two. And even though I like to try to write my own story, He’s got this Author thing pretty well figured out.
Case in point: Peter, according to John’s gospel. He and his fellow disciples expected something completely different for Jesus and His life. They expected Rome to fall as Jesus rose politically. It was a bit of a shock, then, when Jesus was crucified and killed by Roman hands. His expectations of Jesus had been obliterated. And then Jesus rose from the grave and appeared to Peter and the rest of the disciples. But what does Peter do? He goes back to his old job. It’s not until after Jesus has ascended that Peter catches His vision.
My whole point is simply this: God had a plan that was extremely difficult for Peter to grasp. I (and every Calvary-ite with me) am in a very similar situation: Something’s happening that’s shattering my day-dreams and I can’t quite figure it out. It makes me want to think that it’s all been a waste, but that’s like saying Peter’s walk with Jesus before He died was a waste; it was really the step to a deeper faith.
God brought us on this ride with Calvary and with Danny for a reason: In order to be the men and women He wants us to be. It’s an uncomfortable ride, for sure, because it’s possibly removing a style of faith we’ve grown so accustomed to. But now we have the opportunity to see just what kind of work God has really done within us.
“Take courage sons for we must go under/The heart of darkness to set them free/But don’t lose heart when you see the numbers/There’s no measure for faith with praise,” Josh Garrels, “Rise”
“But the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, which shines brighter and brighter until full day,” Proverbs 4:18
Greater things are yet to come. May we have the heart to see them through.