Our family recently moved to Colorado — the culmination of much desire, excitement, passion and vision.
And yet, despite the energy and impetus behind the move, we are not exempt from the difficulties of establishing a new sense of place. There are just a few events in life that rank at the top of the anxiety-producing list: death, loss of a job, divorce, and MOVING!
Amongst the immense newness of the move is the challenge of finding a faith community. I am finding that this is at the crux of much of my longing and disappointment. My family has been diligent and patient (well, mostly) to visit new places almost each week for the past couple of months. We have been both amazed (that there are so many good churches and communities of believers) and disappointed (that somehow they just don’t seem to “fit”). The search continues.
Here’s the challenge I face: I am realizing that I want SO much from a church/faith community. I want authenticity, grace, honesty about brokenness combined with a firm grip on God’s redemption. I want it to be small enough to not be just a number, but big enough to be established. I want a church that places a high value on the Word, theology, learning and personal growth while at the same time allowing the mystery of God to pervade and overwhelm our understanding of Him. I want order and liturgy alongside of the Spirit’s freedom. I want to celebrate the Christian rites, without them being empty rituals. I want candles, cathedrals, incense and stained glass without the spiritual deadness and distance that seems to fill many of the ancient places. I want missions of evangelism, discipleship, justice and “true religion” without colonialism or Western imposition. I want my children to WANT to go to church because of their love of Jesus and not just their love of programs — and yet I want them to see church as a place to play, make friends, and be crazy. Oh, my desires far exceed any church’s ability to meet them.
As a result, the landscape of my heart has begun to grow thunderous with desire. I most certainly don’t want to “settle.” And I most certainly do not want my pride or pretentiousness to preclude my involvement in the lives of men and women who truly love and follow hard after Jesus. Good churches abound. Why then does has my heart not yet found a home?
How have you made the decision to be involved in your faith community? What advice can you give? Where are the places of longing in your heart that remain unanswered? What desires for community do you think we will continue to hold until glory?
[blockquote]The master-magnet of the gospel is not fear, but love. Penitents are drawn to Christ rather than driven. The most frequent impulse that leads men to Jesus is hope that in Him they may find salvation. Truly, even then they are moved by fear of the evil which they would escape; but their feet are led to fly toward Him by the hope in His gentleness, His goodness, His readiness to receive sinners.
Hope in that mercy of God which endures forever is the great cord which draws men to repentance. Consequently, after the Lord had sounded the clarion note of warning, He touched the harp strings of grace and brought forth from them notes both soft and sweet, cheering the sad, and encouraging the despondent: these notes He knew would be heard where even the trumpet sounded not.
I am glad, therefore, that I may write to God’s people and set forth God’s love as the reason they should love Him in return. “We love him because he first loved us” is the great law of the Christian life. In proportion as we recognize the love of God and know somewhat of its height, and depth, and length, and breadth, our hearts will be graciously affected by it.[/blockquote]