SO YOU DON’T WANT TO GO TO CHURCH ANYMORE – PART 10
You may have heard the saying, “Life has seasons.”
In our spiritual journey, we go through seasons that test and try our faith.
This summer we experienced extreme heat and humidity with no end in sight.
But now we’re in the fall season and it feels so nice outside.
Thank God we go through seasons and not stay in them.
In Chapter 10, we will see Jake’s prayers answered and a new season beginning.
Jake is seeking God’s timing to help Diane confront Jim (their former pastor) about the affair but Jake has other worries of his own. He is dupped in a few real estate opportunities that would have covered his bills for the month. He’s overwhelmed by his circumstances but surprisingly not angry.
Guess who comes to visit Jake? It’s Tito John! =)
…As I walked out of my office, I was surprised to see John walking down the sidewalk toward me. He was looking down and hadn’t noticed me before I called out, “And what are you doing here?”
He looked up with a smile. “Oh, Hi Jake.” We met partway down the sidewalk with a hug. “I thought I’d see what you were doing for lunch.”
“I suppose you just happen to be in the neighborhood…” I winked as if we had some kind of inside joke.
“No, I actually came to see you. You’ve been on my heart for the last week or so, and I thought it might be a good time to come up.”
“Don’t you ever warn anyone when you’re coming? What if I hadn’t been here?”
I’m tellin’ yea he’s Filipino. =)
They go to lunch and here are the topics covered:
1. Jake needs to call Jim but doesn’t feel like it’s the right time. Tito John encourages him with these words:
“That’s often how God works, Jake. If you’re willing to do something but don’t sense it’s right when you move ahead, you are better off waiting until it’s clear…Even if someone else thinks you’re a chicken? Even if. You can’t blame her for not seeing what you see. Be true to his work in you and love others even through their misunderstanding of that. That’s how to live with grace.”
2. Jake’s house meetings have become a let down. You’ll see John poke holes in man’s religious teaching on commitment.
“Everyone seems to be doing well, but the group as a whole has really broken down since you were there.”
“Why is that?”
“Part of it had to do with summer vacations, but I also think people took to heart what you said and have not been as committed to the meeting. People have lots of excuses and no one seems to miss getting together. I am beginning to wonder if we misunderstood you. Without commitment we can’t seem to find a way to get together.”
“Which might be a good reason not to,” John said putting down the menu.
“So you think there’s no value in people getting together if they don’t really want to?”
“Who said anything about wanting to, Jake. It’s valuable for the body of Christ to find each other and share his life together. Where people are doing that they don’t need commitment. They’ll bend over backwards to be with each other. Where they aren’t doing that, it does little good just to be committed to a meeting. I’m convinced that most Christian meetings give people enough of God’s things to inoculate them against the reality of his presence.”
It was a good thing our waitress walked up then to take our order, because I needed to sort out what he’d just said. After we ordered, I turned back to John with half an eye on Jim who still sat alone. “So you think our meetings could become a substitute for God himself?”
“I don’t mean it that way. I mean they can become iconic. Because people get together, sit in a room, sing some songs and share Scripture they think they’ve experienced the life of the church. If that’s all been real, then they have. More times than not, however, it’s just a routine they feel good about having accomplished, but in the end they haven’t really shared his life at all. That’s why I like pulling commitment off of people. You find out where they really are on the inside, and that’s good for you and for them.“
“It sure doesn’t feel that way, though. It feels like they’re a bunch of flakes.”
“Maybe they are, maybe they’re just worn out with obligations. Let them detox from that for a while and then you’ll all know better. Besides, just because they don’t come to a meeting, doesn’t mean you can’t pursue fellowship with them individually.”
“So discipline isn’t important, John?”
“Discipline holds great value when your eye is on the treasure. But as a substitute for that treasure, obligation can be a real detriment when it gives you satisfaction just for completing a task.”
“Yes, but I feel like such a failure now.”
“Why do you feel like a failure?”
“I don’t know. I guess I want to discover real body life, but how can we if we don’t find a way to get together?”
“How could they stay away, if they had found it?”
I hate it when he reverses my playing field like that. I looked at him in a mock scowl and he shrugged his shoulders as if to say, “What can I say?”
“You know what’s really strange, John?”
“I feel like I have more to teach now than I ever have, and that I have far fewer people to share it with.”
John laughed heartily. “If I had a dollar for every time I heard that…” Then he put his hand over mine. “It’s not about teaching, Jake. It’s about living. Learn to live this life and you’ll have no end of folks to share it with. Teach it first, however, and that will be your substitute for living it.”
3. Jake’s needs about $5,000 to pay off his expenses. This conversation is so insightful and a great reminder to trust God for everything and anything. Below is a big chunk of that discussion:
“If we don’t learn to trust, Jake, we will only interpret every event from our own self-centered vantage point, which is invariably negative and undermines our relationship with God. Look at it this way. On your way home one evening you have car trouble on the freeway and a dead battery in your cell phone, so you get home two hours later than you said you would. If Laurie trusts you, there’s no problem. If not, as your supper grows cold, she starts to worry, begins to feel threatened and even wrestles with the possibility that you might be involved with someone else. When you finally get home, she’s already angry at you and you have no idea why.
“Mistrust will only make us feel threatened or afraid so that we’ll either lash out at others in hostility, or turn it inward into depression. Growing in trust allows us to walk with God through our concerns and disappointments, knowing he has something else in mind than we might have thought.”
“Well I don’t see any way I can come up with that kind of money in so short a time.”
“You’re thinking with your head, Jake. There’s a thousand ways God can provide for you.”
“I guess he could turn my orange tree into a money tree if he wanted, but I’m not sure I should count on that.”
“I’m pretty sure you shouldn’t. But you have enough for today already, don’t you?” I nodded through a frustrated grimace. “That’s all we’re promised, Jake. He hasn’t promised to resolve our problems two weeks in advance, just one day at a time as we walk freely in him. And he told us we could be content with what he provides.”
We then see how God switches gears on Jake. Jim is at the same restaurant and hands Jake a $10,000 severance check with a letter of apology from the board. Jim also wants Jake to consider being his replacement as he is planning to step down from his pastorate. The icing on the cake is when Jake is able to fulfill his promise to Diane. Meeting is set for tomorrow.
The summer drought Jake was experiencing is over. Things are cooling down as Jake enters a new season.
Hope you enjoy these relaxing and refreshing music videos from Beckah Shae!
Beckah Shae – Rest
Do Not Give Up