Last night I was lying in bed and I was finding it hard to sleep. I kept wondering why the church I'm privileged to be pastor of has such a hard time to keep our young adults and reach out into our community is a more significant way. Being who I am, I kept trying to figure out what I was doing wrong, why my leadership wasn't good enough or strong enough, and suddenly a light went off in my head, thankfully only in my head as my wife was sleeping right beside me, my thinking was way too me-focused. The light bulb didn't go off to let myself off the hook on my responsibilities as the pastor to work hard and faithfully, but it did shine a light on the fact that there are so many other things involved in why our young adults don't stay and why we only attract a few families every year instead of growing in leaps and bounds.
My thoughts started down a different road instead, wondering, why do I need God? Now it's not like things are so horrible for me and my family, we have our struggles as mentioned in previous blogs, but over-all, life is pretty good. My kids are mostly healthy and basically finding happiness even if life hasn't always gone the ways they had expected. Over Christmas and New Years we had most of our kids and grand-kids home, and were able to talk with our other son on Christmas. I'm healthy and happy and God has given me a glass half full way of seeing life along with a pretty hearty laugh, or so I've been told :), so on the outside, it seems as if God doesn't need to be a high priority for me outside of the fact that I am a pastor!! and as a pastor I spend my time preaching about who God is and extending Jesus' invitation to follow Him, teaching about God, encouraging people to open their hearts to the Holy Spirit and allow the Spirit to shape their lives, hearts and minds.
Yet as I was lying in bed, I realised just how much I need God. I need God because without God, I'm pretty scared of what might lie ahead in life. Many fellow pastors I know have been forced to leave their churches because things went bad, often fairly quickly; the family my daughter works for was devastated the other day when the father was in a car accident and he and their son are now seriously injured in the hospital and it doesn't necessarily look good right now; Quebec often feels like a mess right now and it's not always a pleasure to live in such a dysfunctional society; and these are just some of the things that make me realize that life is so often out of my control. As a pastor, I hear of too many relationships, whether marriages, family or friendships that are broken and filled with pain and while I can listen and pray for them and offer advice and guidance as I walk with them, ultimately there is little I can really do to make things different. Over my sabbatical I worked with a counsellor who helped me work through a few issues in my own head and heart, and this week I'm preaching on repentance and I see the sin filled and influenced part of who I am, and it hits me all over again, how much I need God because even in repentance, I'm still pretty messed up in so many ways, unable to really change in healthy ways on my own.
Last night I came to see again that I need God so I can live without fear and with confidence because I can trust that God is in control and that when I stay connected and focused on God and His way, I can move forward with the ability to love and laugh with joy even if from the perspective of others, there may not be much to laugh about or find joy in. I need God, how about you?