I’m home sick today, finally succumbing to whatever virus my kids have been carrying around the last week. Out my back window, across the canal, there sits a police car. If you keep up with the news, no doubt you’ve heard about the 4 people who were killed by a family member on Thanksgiving day here in Jupiter. (Here’s the related stories in the local paper.)
Amber used to teach music to the little girl that died, so we’ve known the family for a few years. Needless to say, it’s been a surreal last few days. Thankfully we were in Gainesville when it happened…I’ve been thinking for a while how much my life, calling, and actual ministry has changed over the past few years.
I still keep up with the conversation on how the church and culture are changing. My observation is that there is still a better mousetrap out there – a new way to do church that will “fix” all the problems we see. That, of course, is the American Way. We believe there is change around the corner; we just need the right president in office or the right model for our business or the right piece of technology.And then something happens like what took place a hundred yards outside my back window.I spent some time with a good friend two weekends ago that has had a similar story to mine. On track in a ‘ministry career’, left with huge questions, started a small faith community in a suburban area, now working out the answers for the long haul. We’ve both dealt with our fair share of tragedies and the raw implications of sin within our communities. We’ve seen friends die and marriages dissolve. But we’ve also seen lost, broken people become whole. We’ve seen those without a family find a family and we’ve seen dreams come alive that were very much dead.But these are all things you can’t talk about on a blog. These are stories that can’t be written about in a book and sold to the Christian masses as the answer to all their problems. This is not the American Way. What my friend and I are finding is that the answers to our questions – where our lives are finding meaning and bearing the most fruit – are within a context that matters nothing to our society. The small, the simple, the un-heard-of. Who we are cannot be written in a mission statement or expressed through a statement of faith. There are things we know and believe, but they are ultimately just words on a page. We are following a living Being and we have assurance of real resurrection. Either lives are transformed and the dead rise or we are fools. Jesus is more than a idea to a man who is able to say about his dead daughter – “I was the last one to put her to bed. So her daddy put her to sleep, and her Father woke her up.”Here is a little encouragement to anyone who might read this who is going into ministry or has a desire to serve the church in some capacity. Stop trying to build a better mousetrap. Stop the theological wranglings about things you’ll never be able to live. Stop trying to be famous. Like a good farmer, plant seeds and care for your soil. Like a good builder, build with the best materials. Take your time and don’t be shocked when things don’t work out like you thought. Tragedy shouldn’t surprise you. Death is not the end. As the Apostle Paul quotes Isaiah and Hosea: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.” “Where, O death, is your victory?Where, O death, is your sting?”