Life is about storms; huge, massively violent, and sometimes destructive storms with thunder, lightening and flooding, and also those small storms punctuated by the smell of the most beautiful spring rain and a beautiful, sunny rainbow at its conclusion. But either way, whether the storm wipes out entire towns, destroying homes and livelihoods in its wake, or whether the storm causes beauty and revival, storms do come to an end, and bring about change.
In everything, whether it be our lives as created women and men, or whether it be in our service to the church as the Body of Christ (although these two are not mutually exclusive theologically in my opinion…), storms happen, and even more often than we would like to admit. They happen not out of our desire for unity, but rather our inability to seek after God toward a singular purpose, and it is possible that they result from our broken, sinful nature, but in all honesty, it is is likely a result of our individual desires to be right, to have a say, and perhaps even, to make a difference in a world that seems to dramatically out of control. The storms rage, schisms begin to form – among people and among groups, arguments ensue, and yet, God persists to be present, to show a direction, and to show His grace and providence; God is bigger than our disunity, God is bigger than our desire to silence one another’s attempts at discerning God’s call for the church and in our own lives, and what is more, God is bigger and stronger than our ability to isolate one another from God Himself.
If we are not encouraged to truly think, ponder, ask the tough questions and push back, then the calm will seem like yet another an extension of the storm it seeks to advance and improve itself. Whether it is God’s preferred future that is the belief system in question or Calvin’s understanding of (double) predestination, the church is ultimately not a possession of creation, but that of the Triune, who created not out of obligation, but selflessly; with this understanding, it is the duty of the church to listen both obediently, prayerfully, discerningly, and with a rebellious and passionate ear to the thundering ground in the most stormy of areas so that when the storm is over and the clouds have rolled back, the still small voice of God is just as clear and strong in our ears as leaders of this church we have been given as a gift, albeit undeservingly.
And so I continue to push back, to question, to ponder, to head into the midst of the storm however frightful or mild, not because of the potential for a fight, but because of my love and passion for the God who has called me into life, who has spared me from the pit (more than once…), and who has seen it fit to put me into service in this most incredible church. I push back because of this fire burning within, a fire for life that burns and cannot be extinguished, but rather grows the tiniest bit more vibrant each and every day that I am granted a new morning in community with the Body of Christ. This fire wants to see the stormy moments yield rainbows, yield taller stalks of corn, and to see little children jumping into puddles with playful and carefree giggles, filled with the pure and unadulterated joy that is only of the presence of the Holy Spirit among them. But mostly, I push back because I long for more – as a member of the Body of Christ, as someone who has felt the call to ministry from the deepest pits of illness, the highest mountains of joy, and every incredible storm in between. I long for more, and am willing to seek for God’s grace, providence, and that very path which God has predestined before the creation of the church with every breath and every heartbeat, for the sake of God, by the grace of God, and to the glory of God. Because in this way, the church, even in its rocky seas, in its disagreements, in its fights and frustrations, will see the wonders of a storm, will be able to weather it together as though it is a unified and strong body that is the Body of Christ, formed by God the Father, and sustained through the guidance of the Holy Spirit. I will do so because if we don’t, we will never be more than the sum total of our past experiences, both individual and cumulative. And that certainly cannot be what God intended for us – as the Body of Christ, and as His Church.
To God, not humanity, be the Glory, and all shall be well, no matter how rocky the seas, and no matter how stormy the skies.