The Sunday before Thanksgiving feels like the beginning of a sprint to January. It’s a great time of year but there is so much ahead for us as a Church. As we look to this holiday season and the new year I see so many opportunities for our Church community. We have a really inspiring Advent program that, among other things, is directed to assist our mission in Nigeria. At Christmas we have programs to impact our own community here in Timonium. In January we are launching something very different that I am very excited about (more on that later). These opportunities got me thinking about what we do with opportunities and why we often miss them.
1. Laziness: This one is a huge enemy of the Church. Opportunities require action and work. Some Church leaders get so wrapped up in the way things are they never even consider additional opportunities because doing so would require effort. I know so many Churches that are on autopilot, everybody from the Pastor to ushers could do what they do on Sundays blindfolded.
2. Fear: God never gives us the complete picture. He never says, “Do this and this…and if you do then I will do this and then that and you will live happily ever after.” (At least he never did that with anyone in the Scriptures, and he has sure never done it with me.) He reveals himself one step at a time…and demands that we have the faith to follow him wherever he leads us.
3. Doubt: All of us have had doubts that God could ever use us to do something great for his name, and when we think like that we’re wrong. Gideon wrestled with doubt until he realized that God didn’t see him as he was, God saw him as he created him to be.
4. Pride: There are some people that are so busy looking for the great and awesome opportunities that they miss the “little things” that God places in front of them every day. Perhaps to acknowledge them would be somehow demeaning because, after all, certain “little things” are beneath people who are pursuing a path of greatness, right? The only real problem with that is Jesus taught the path to greatness is service and humility. God won’t even try to trust us with big things until we show gratitude and appreciation for the little things.
5. Unawareness: We lose sight of who he is. We lose sight of what he can do. He healed the blind, parted the Red Sea, made the lame walk and brought the dead back to life. We read those stories in the Scriptures but many times fail to understand…he’s the same God. He has the same power, he is not limited. He wants the Church to thrive more than we do. It’s not that he’s not wanting to do great things…but rather than he can’t find men and women who believe in him enough to attempt what he’s leading them to do.
In the season ahead I am going to try and cultivate a lively awareness of his power over our projects, keep my pride in check through successes and apparent failures, work as hard as I can, hand over my fears to him and proceed with the sure knowledge that God is in charge and has great plans for his Church.