Stay Here Just a Little While Longer
If you are a nominally keen observer, you could take a look at my house right now and draw some pretty fair conclusions about me. With a discerning eye, you would see a pile of children’s garments that have been washed, dried and folded but just didn’t make it to the drawer or closet in which they reside. You would see a fence that is ninety-percent complete but with two panels missing, toddler escape is still a possibility and a present reality. A back door has been primed and painted and the door knob has been purchased but not yet replaced. A patio walkway has been left undone for nearly two years now. And a truly keen observer would flip through the pages of the books on my shelves and find the first five or six chapters scribbled upon with thoughts and questions, only to see the scribblings fade away at the mid-point and never reemerge. It does not take Sherlock Holmes level sleuthing to realize that I am not a finisher!
As Christians, we often have a next thing mentality when it comes to our faith.
But hear me out…I am not a quitter either! I simply move on to the next thing before the current thing is complete. I call this “next thing mentality” and I’m willing to bet I am not alone. As Christians, we often have a "next thing mentality" when it comes to our faith. Have you ever felt like God was really exposing sin in your life, or challenging you in a particular way? I have seen this a lot in my years of ministry and experienced it in my own life. These are powerful times where we can be deeply transformed more into the image of Christ. But sadly, I have seen myself and others be far too quick to move on to the next thing…the next truth, the next sin to fight, the next challenge to take on, and in doing so, we leave behind the deep transformation that the moment offered.
We move on for several reasons. Having sin exposed is hard and uncomfortable. Being challenged by God can be overwhelming at times. During these seasons of challenge and exposure God is asking us to go to places in our hearts that are not all that pretty and if we are honest, we would rather pretend these ugly places don’t exist. In addition to our discomfort, our culture, which celebrates the new and exciting and often chides the old and traditional, subtly entices us into looking for something else…the next thing. So, if we want to see deep change happen in our lives, we must culturally swim upstream and stay in the uncomfortable place and let God go to work on us a little (or a lot) longer. After all, God is going to finish what he started in you:
“And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ” – Philippians 1:6
The question is will we lean in? Will we push forward in our discomfort and allow God to continue to challenge us or will we be on to the next project leaving our souls looking a lot like my house…full of semi-complete transformation?
Stay here with me and let’s allow our God to expose and challenge us until we are deeply transformed ...
As I type these words, it is the week following George Floyd and the reemergence of the Black Lives Matter Movement. Floyd’s egregious death at the hands of a police officer, merely weeks after the murder of Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor, challenge me to consider what I could and should be doing to seek justice for all image bearers. I feel exposed as I examine my own heart and consider, now more than ever, how I have contributed to a system that treats people unfairly and causes them to live in fear. It is outright uncomfortable, and it is right where God wants me. And I am going to fight my impulse to move on to something new. I’m going to open my ears and listen to my brothers and sisters who are crying out for justice. I’m going let my heart be exposed and get busy repenting. I’m going to stay here a little while. I suspect many of you are in a similar place and if that is the case, I simply want to ask you a favor…stay here just a little while longer? Stay here with me and let’s allow our God to expose and challenge us until we are deeply transformed into the image of the One who came bearing good news to the poor, proclaiming liberty to the captives, and freeing those who were oppressed. I hope you will.