Easier said than done, if truth be told, especially when the unexpected happens.
A few Sundays ago, Jamie (my husband) preached a message at church challenging us to rest, to trust God, in spite of what’s going on. The phrase he used to describe how we should rest that stuck out most in my mind was, “Go to sleep.” I couldn’t help but smile when, unexpectedly, I heard the tune of a familiar lullaby playing over the speaker as he was closing the message and praying for people, “Go to sleep, Go to sleep, la, la, la, la, la, la, la…” As a pastors wife, we actually don’t want out people falling asleep in church; however, the tune was a good fit for the moment and to keep the congregation awake, he had us all stand up.
Oh the things that happen in church!
It’s impossible to predict what might happen from one service to the next, especially in a brand-new church plant where no one is the “churched” type. In earlier church plants, I would often approach our services with a sense of dread over what might happen, what would inevitably happen, at some point. I now wish I had learned the lesson of going to sleep a little sooner!
I’d begin Sunday with the “What if” thoughts:
What if the sound system squeaks or squeaks?.
What if the rats climb on the balcony railing again?
What if drunk, stumbling and passing out drunk, people disrupt service?
What if people thought the worst of us?
Would that my heart had rested earlier! Peace isn’t a situation, peace is a posture of heart. The answers to a squealing system, rats climbing, or drunks stumbling would come and life would go on. Some people would like us, others wouldn’t, and there was nothing I could do to change anyone’s opinion – and I have learned to rest and be myself. The churches we have been blessed to plant have all started the same way, with little decorum, opening the doors (or tent flaps sometimes) to any and all who might enter. As you might have supposed, the congregation rarely begins with the wealthy, it’s the poor who come, looking for a place to be welcomed.
Welcome them we do and as the years go by, we begin to see changes take place: God blesses them with jobs, families, homes, and businesses. The miracles that happen take place over time and the messy beginning turns into a beautiful church full of people that are all at various stages of growth in the Lord that is seen on their faces, heard in their speech, and experienced in their day-to-day lives. I came to realize, the messy “What ifs” fade away as God chips away and works in the lives of His people.
John 14:27 NKJV “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”
Don’t worry what things might look like or what might go wrong or what others will think. We worry more over the peace of others than we do for ourselves. Scriptures teach us to guard, or keep, our hearts (Prov. 4:23) because what comes out of our hearts determine the course of our lives. It’s time to put a “Do not Disturb” sign over our hearts and watch over what we allow in. The words, “Let no your heart be troubled,” ring as loud and clear today as they did when Jesus first uttered them; don’t worry, rest! Remember that appearances are only that: appearances. Rest is found not in worrying over impressions, it’s found in allowing God to work and sort all of the messiness in our lives in His way, in His time.