Yesterday I spent some time praying and reading from 1 Samuel. I am continually struck when I read 1 Samuel by how much God gets credit for everything. Hannah cannot have a baby because of God. Then Hannah is able to have a baby because of God. When Israel is defeated by the Philistines in Chapter 4 the elders ask, “Why did the Lord bring defeat on us today?” It is clear that the author sees this story that he is writing as God’s story. He is the one driving events forward. He is the one who gets credit for the events that play out in time. I love 1 Samuel because it is full of exciting and heroic stories of battles and giants and rebellions and kings – and its God’s story.
I am also a big fan of JRR Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings. There is a point in the story as Frodo and Sam and walking into Mordor, into incredible danger and very little hope for success, that they begin to think about the story that they find themselves in. Sam begins to tell how he used to think that adventures were the sort of things that people went and looked for but that he now believes they are the sort of things that one simply finds his/herself in. He begins to compare their adventure with others from the history of Middle-earth remembering that others had walked into far greater danger and lived through to the other side. He then realizes that they were given a token that was directly connected to those old stories and proclaims with excitement that they are actually still in that story!
To put 1 Samuel and The Lord of the Rings together, I began to reflect on my own adventure here in Wichita. When I look back on my life, I can claim no credit for how things have played out. From a certain perspective I have been really lucky to just ride the waves that have shaped most of the life altering changes in my life. From the perspective of 1 Samuel I should give God the credit for all of those, especially my story of church planting and my adventure here in Wichita, KS.
We have now been on our own for about a month here. Amy and I are ever thinking about how to go about the work God has called us to here. How do you go about starting a church when you are all by yourself? We have not found the answer to that question but continue work to get our co-workers, the Mott family, here as soon as possible. We are starting to make progress on our remaining fundraising, but we still have a ways to go. Keep praying that God will provide for us or write us a check yourself. We also need the Mott’s house to sell in Tennessee.
For the past month, church has been primarily family and a friend connected to Riverwalk who we are exploring a partnership with. Church has definitely not been an event or a worship service. I have been meeting pretty regularly with this friend to talk about our relationship with God and to serve together at a food and clothing bank for the poor. My family has begun to develop some meaningful times of spiritual connection. Usually during lunch on Sunday, we sit down at the table, read a scripture, and begin talking about the Lord’s Supper. We ask our kids what the bread and grape juice mean and why we eat and drink them. We say a prayer, take the bread and juice, and eat lunch. As we eat lunch, each of us takes turns sharing something from the past week that made us happy and something that made us sad. It has been a fun and meaningful way to share our lives together and to teach our kids about following Jesus.
As we continue to reflect and listen for direction in starting a new church, our thoughts continually focus around how we can share our meaningful little family tradition with other people. We are continually wrestling with the answer, but we feel like we have found a next step. It feels like God is on the move. More to come in the future. Keep praying!