Last night a group of us gathered in a living room in Shoreline to discuss the future of Bethany Community Church North. For over a year we have gone from discussing the idea of a new church in the Shoreline/Edmonds area to looking for locations to choosing a location (Richmond Highlands Recreation Center) to having outreach barbeques to meet new people and cast vision over the new church starting in the fall. It all has seemed very conceptual and “macro” in a way…we are called to start a church in a communithy center to reach new people for the Kingdom of God. And now, with services less than a month away, a myriad of small decisions must be made.
Thus, last night’s meeting. Instead of talking about the Kingdom of God, we talked of parking attendants and back up parking plans. Instead of discussing the virtues of being “missional” as a church instead of “attractional,” we talked of our needs for nursery workers and the exact locations of the existing restrooms. Things became very micro as we wrote ideas up on the whiteboard.
And yet, this is how it goes. The biggest most life changing experiences we have are not rare occurences, but rather a result of thousands of small decisions. We think back on college life as a profound experience and yet forget the thousands of visits to the library late at night when weweren’t really feeling up to it. We talk of our children and our eyes light up with passion and energy…and yet we don’t always feel so great when we’re changing a diaper in the middle of the night. Or we experience the pure thrill of a loving romance with ourspouse and yet we know our marriage isn’t built by a weekly date night or an annual vacation…but in the everyday decisions we make. My point? Big things start with small steps. God takes our micro acts and weaves them into a macro story of redemption and power and glory.
When I was a senior at Whitworth College, I took my January-term off from school to travel in Guatemala with the vague hope of learning to speak Spanish. For a month I backpacked mostly alone from the jungles of Tikal to the coast just north of El Salvador and all places in between. From the moment I first flew into “Guate”, what the locals call Guatemala City, I felt alone and scared. How would I ever learn to speak Spanish? How would I find my way? What was I thinking???
With fear and trepidation, I mustered a bit of courage, opened my Spanish guidebook, and walked to the first person I could find and sputtered out “¿dónde está la estación de autobuses?” It took me most of a minute to spit out this simple sentence. As I finished butchering my first sentence of Spanish spoken in Guate, the person pointed me towards the bus station. I was thrilled. I was on my way. It didn’t matter that I probably had just uttered the most ridiculous sounding Spanish sentence ever uttered….I was on my way.
Over the course of the month I did learn to speak Spanish and was able to navigate my way around an incredible country having an adventure of a lifetime. But it all started with the courage to step out and start making small steps into a new country. As we start Bethany Community Church North at the end of this month, I pray for us all to have the courage to utter the small phrases, to make the small steps, to step out into a tiny act of service. I am confident God will use these small phrases to tell His grand story in amazing ways.