Thursday, June 19, 2014

My Lament

Return to Part One: What is the Willow Creek Model
or Part Two: The Blight Cometh

It’s one thing to point out the clinical problems that come with having your church blighted, it’s quite another to live through it. Reading Exodus 23:2 is easy (Thou shalt not follow a multitude to do evil; neither shalt thou speak in a cause to decline after many to wrest judgment) but standing up to society is decidedly hard. Watching my large church, to whom I entrust the souls of myself and my kids, turn into a Willow Creek church has been beyond exceedingly difficult. I mean, not just hard but really, really hard, sleepless nights of doubting myself, debating myself, and kicking myself in abundance hard. Because I’ve been alone in it. 
Mentioning my concerns to others only results in them looking at me like I have two heads, “Why do you care so much? Why do you make such a big deal about nothing? This place is great! The preaching is awesome! Don’t you see the work we’re doing for the kingdom?” And I do see it, and it’s not all without question bad. But my heart has sunk very low when I have seen my friends blighted into skipping church altogether in order to go to run races, attend ballgames.

The staff are no relief, in fact they are worse off than the blighted members since they are fully vested in the executive pastor (because otherwise they lose their jobs). I don’t judge them, they need to feed their children the same as I, and this is how they earn their bread, rather, I love them. They are wonderful people. But since I can neither condemn them for succumbing to the blight, nor admit it’s acceptable, I am left alone. And the blight whispers to me as well. “It’s not too late to go back. Go inside and believe it, put to death that part of you that is crying out.” I want it to be true that it’s harmless and acceptable, that if I lay down and sleep it wouldn’t corrode my soul. But I can’t, because two things have kept me half awake during the spell, like Puddleglum the marsh wiggle in the depths of the earth: AWANA and Alistair. The leaders at AWANA invited me to teach the junior kids for a year and they were very happy with my Scripture centric approach that challenged them to pursue the glory of God. I pulled no punches and taught them as adults, and was just sure the things I was saying would get me booted because it was the complete opposite of Sunday mornings, but it never happened. That encouraged me. The other thing was Truth for Life. The biblical preaching I get there has fed me enough to keep me from passing out.

So I sit alone by the river, unable to sing King Alphas song, groaning as the heavy wheels of providence turn over me. His sovereign hand has sorely pursued His servant to keep him from resting, and the pleas go unheard. The upraised hands are not seen, rather, He has increased my affliction, and multiplied to me sorrows. Well can I say with the Scriptures, it is not good for man to be alone. I cry with the Psalmist, have mercy upon me, O LORD; for I am weak: O LORD, heal me; for my bones are vexed. My soul is also sore vexed: but thou, O LORD, how long?  And again, How long wilt thou forget me, O LORD? Forever? Oh, we see not our signs! There is no longer any prophet! neither is there among us any that knoweth. Alas that these evil days have come upon me.

But as Doug Wilson says, I hear in the hard snowy highlands the bagpipes of God’s sovereignty demanding I count it as joy, which comes with the morning. And even as some of the blighted poets have said, I take comfort in that “God loves me and has a wonderful plan for my life.”


Liz said...

Have you found a church home yet? If so, where?

Phil said...

Hi Liz,
I took the family to Immanuel Baptist Church in Sacramento, and although it's not a perfect church, they do their best to love the Lord and it shows.