Last week was one of the biggest weeks in the history of Bethany North. We purchased 30 new chairs in early January…last Sunday they were all full. Great things are going on. During our current food drive we’ve collected 196 lbs of food…last week. And more is coming in this week. During a recent sermon, I preached on the power of SERVICE to really connect together. (you can see that sermon HERE). Well the church responded to that call with over 40 volunteers signing up…this in a church of 200. We’re encouraging people to join a community group and 13 different community groups arose from our little church. We have 3 new Team Coordinators for Children’s Ministry that are supervising and giving vision to a thriving children’s ministry. Our worship ministry is drastically improving, our hospitality teams are bursting with kindness and creative ways to engage others, our set up teams work for hours each Sunday faithfully. In short, people are actively engaged in what we call, “Be the Church.” ‘Its not a location’, we tell people, ‘but the church is God’s people’. We have a motto that says “Connect and Serve to Make Jesus Known in North King and South Snohomish Counties.” All this is happening in huge ways. I’m thankful for this. I’m wowed by this. I’m humbled by this.
And yet I have my days…days where I feel terrifically discouraged. Days I question my call in life. Days I wonder how to do it all. Days I feel insecure, down, and out. Days I feel disconnected from others. Days I wonder what God is doing with our church and if people are really getting it. Are we really reaching people? Does any of this matter? Sometimes, I confess, I can’t see the forest for the trees. I allow my challenges to overwhelm me. I forget the promise of Christ. Paul writes to his younger co-worker Timothy, “For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power.” God gives us His spirit which gives us power. There are days I just don’t feel very powerful.
Recently I was talking to a friend and reminded of Lewis and Clark’s journey. In his expedition to discover a Northwest Passage for President Jefferson, Meriwether Lewis wrote the following on his 31st birthday. He wrote:
“This day I completed my thirty first year, and conceived that I had in all human probability now existed about half the period which I am to remain in this Sublunary world. I reflected that I had as yet done but little, very little indeed, to further the happiness of the human race, or to advance the information of the succeeding generation. I viewed with regret the many hours I have spent in indolence, and now soarly feel the want of that information which those hours would have given me had they been judiciously expended. but since they are past and cannot be recalled, I dash from me the gloomy thought and resolved in future, to redouble my exertions and at least indeavour to promote those two primary objects of human existance, by giving them the aid of that portion of talents which nature and fortune have bestoed on me; or in future, to live for mankind, as I have heretofore lived for myself.—” M.L.
You can read more about Lewis and his birthday meditation here, but isn’t it amazing that Lewis thinks that he has “done but little?” At the time of writing, Lewis was further west than any European American had travelled. He was across the Missouri, across the Rockies, and on his way to the Pacific. His name has gone down in history for his successful journey. Though Lewis and Clark didn’t find the NW Passage (because it didn’t exist) they opened up new passages of discovery for Western exploration and expanded knowledge in many facets of science. In many ways they set the table for the colonization of what was to be the Western states. But when he turned 31, he was depressed and despondent because he thought he hadn’t done much for the world. His resolve? Live for mankind, instead of living for himself. Though his intentions were good, Lewis’ life had an untimely and darkened end. He committed suicide just 3 years after returning from the expedition, apparently not able to get a grip upon the depression that visited him at times throughout his life.
Sadly, this struggle of not being able to really see ourselves and see our successes plagues many of us. We long for a better job, while we have one that pays our bills. We long for another child, while we have one beautiful child already. We long to lose a bit of weight while we have other blessings of physical health. In short, we long to do something with our lives, while we are sitting further West than others have gone before. Extreme metaphor? Sure. But this fires me up. We have to figure out our calling, where we’re going, and all the steps we’ve already taken to get to where we’re currently at.
But how? This Sunday, come to Bethany North to learn more about God’s call and your life. Can’t make it to church? Listen to the message that has inspired me. Its all right to continue to push west and be on a journey of discovery with our lives. But we can often make the mistake of not giving thanks to God for where we’re currently at and understanding that God has already brought you to someplace beautiful. Join us Sunday. Learn more about God’s calling on your life.