On many days, May has brought us gray, weary mornings and thunderstorms as opposed to the flowers and clear skies that the riddle promises. As we’ve been moving through the sermon series of “The Chasm” and focusing on the rifts of life when what we believe to be true for our lives does not align with the reality of what happens, it forces us to recognize and unpack our own personal chasms. In the beginning of the year, Pastor Adrian spoke on what it means to walk in godly confidence as we go and do our meaningful work in the world in 2018. These kinds of messages fill us with hope and encouragement on Sunday mornings but if we do not turn inspirational moments such as these into genuine movements, we end up shuffling through the year, watching time pass with no real progress or change. Now, as we find ourselves only a little over a month away from the halfway point of the year, the chasms we must reflect on are the promises and goals we made for ourselves at the beginning of the year (our expectations) and what we have actually accomplished thus far (our reality).
We had hope invested into what 2018 would give us, the ways in which God would move and the people we would become with this blank canvas that a new year seems to present. I know for many, political divide, mass shootings, world news that only seems to worsen and personal trials have made 2018 feel more like a storm as opposed to the gift many were expecting. We tend to look at our personal circumstances and the world around us and decide that it is all too difficult and therefore insurmountable. And though we are uncomfortable where we are, we settle into that discomfort because fear and the tribulations we have endured seem to make taking a leap of faith even more frightening and possibly more painful than staying where we are. Even the most church-going and faithful among us fall into the trap of praying for things we’re too afraid to change our lives in order to attain and because faith without works is dead, we find ourselves never realizing all we have the potential to become. In our culture, we praise celebrities, we condemn those who are in most need of mercy and we throw away everything else that doesn’t align with what is currently popular. Tell the truth, shame the devil is how the saying goes but if we’re to be honest, culture, the people around us and our own minds tend to do all the shaming for the enemy. We find ourselves putting on masks, isolating, coping with unhealthy remedies and forcing ourselves into small, dark corners where shame flourishes.
Natural seasons often give beautiful analogies to spiritual ones. As nature reminds us that the soil and trees need to be watered, let us as a church family remember that we also need to be watered by the spirit consistently. Though growth may not always be linear or comfortable, it is when we remain committed regardless of whether or not there are clear skies that our faith is increased and we are able to see movement. It is that spirit of resilience that holds us over when storms inevitably meet us wherever we are. We are not promised that our walk with Christ will be easy. In fact, as followers of Jesus we should expect to see suffering and challenge. And as we have learned through this series, when suffering arises we can run from it, fall into it or allow Jesus to do a work inside of us that will build a bridge. Something we believe in strongly at Engage is building community which we work to do through our Engage Groups because we know having people praying for and with us when difficulties arise keeps us above water. So, as we reflect on the chasms that have met us in 2018 and both the gifts and lessons it has provided thus far, let us also challenge ourselves to suffer well. We must show up with all of our “stuff’ knowing that our stories will lift someone else up as they’re able to see themselves inside of our trauma, mistakes and redemption. We must exchange our fear and self doubt for courage and faith as we walk in godly confidence. Albeit of how many times we believe we have fallen from grace whether in our walk with God or in our promises to change our lives, let us invite Jesus into the voids and allow God to transform us into the men and women we’ve been created to be.