It's not going to work. I'm on to you. We are on to you. I know you are not omni-present. You can only be in one place at a time. For decades I've watched you wreak havoc around the world, but rarely have I felt you in my town, messing with my friends, focused on my church. But it seems like you planted yourself squarely at our doorstep over the past few weeks. It's almost like Someone said to you, "Consider my servants in Granger--there are many there who follow Me without question. And I am getting ready to do some really big stuff through them."
And so you came. And you might still be here.
- Two weeks ago I learned that a friend on our staff lost his mother. She died suddenly the day after Thanksgiving.
- Two days later I learned that a couple on our staff is struggling through the very scary reality of breast cancer.
- The next day I learn that my sister's husband has been diagnosed with ALS. No cure.
- Then I learn that one of my closest friends--a guy who I thought I'd be working beside for the next 20 years--can no longer stay on our staff.
- A day later, another friend finds she may be facing skin cancer.
- The next day, one of our senior team members drops suddenly to the sidewalk vomiting, and spends the night in the ER.
- Then he learns a couple days later that his grandma died.
- This this morning we learn that Mark's mom died.
There are moments, sometimes hours, even days, when I think it's working. I am shaken to my core. It's hard to keep putting one foot in front of the other. It's hard to see the hand of God.
Like last Tuesday night when I sat with hundreds of students and parents as they learned their youth pastor would no longer be their youth pastor--that the man they looked up to had let them down. At that moment, it was hard to see the hand of God. Instead, I saw your hand. Someone said to me, "All things work together for good!" But I wasn't ready to hear that. I watched a row of high school girls in front of me hear the news as tears streamed down their faces, and I wanted to scream. I imagined you standing in the back of the room with a grin on your face.
Two days ago I sat with my brother-in-law and sister, as he told his church that he is facing a life-ending illness--and quite possibly has a very short amount of time to live. I looked around at the teens in his church, who he has led faithfully for 12 years, as they learned for the first time of their pastors' disease. And I wondered if you were in the back of the room, praying to whoever you pray to that the faith of these kids would be irreparably shaken: "Surely they won't follow a God that allows this to happen."
At the end of that service, I sat next to my sister as the congregation was led to sing "Blessed Be The Name of the Lord." Honestly, I wasn't ready to sing it. My heart was too heavy. My strength too sapped. So if that was your goal, then put a point in your column.
But you need to know, you aren't going to win. I don't have the energy right now to pray some Heavenly words of faith against you. But I know in my heart that you are the ultimate loser. You may discourage us; you may win some battles; you may cause some to lose their way; you may distract us for a season; you may even take people away from us that we love--but in the end, you lose.
Since I know you hate Scripture, let me quote some:
"We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed and broken. We are perplexed, but we don't give up and quit. We are hunted down, but God never abandons us. We get knocked down, but we get up again and keep going." (2 Corinthians 4:8-9).
I am convinced more than ever that God is preparing to unleash His power and work through the people of Granger Community Church like never before.
I would suggest you get out of the way.