My husband and I are deeply invested in our church - Core Life Church in Gresham, Oregon. Daniel has served on the worship band for the last 4ish years we've attended, and has done tons of work with their graphic design and production support. I've had the privelage of teaching in the Core Life Training program, which are our discipleship classes. I teach a class called "Life Work" - which focuses on helping people connect the truth of the gospel and the truth of their real life experiences. For most of us, our view of God has been shaped by our experiences with our parents and other authority figures. Sadly, a lot of those experiences leave people thinking God is mainly concerned with our obedience and is usually bent out of shape because we can't seem to "get it right." The "Life Work" class seeks to help people identify big life experiences that shaped their view of God, in order to process those experiences for what they are and to allow God to speak for Himself. The God of the Bible created us for a love relationship with Him and longs for nothing more than that our hearts would be consumed with love for Him. If He has our hearts, all of life flows happily to Him; our obedience, our service, etc.
As we returned home from our trip we've been walking through some really tough conflict between our two head pastors. Both men we know personally as mentors and friends, and both men we love and highly respect. Things had gotten so heated that a professional mediator was called in to help them sort things out. Somewhere along the line in the process, one of our pastors - and one of our dearest friends - decided to resign his elder and staff position so he and his wife (one of my best friends) can seek a new season of healing and begin a family. The issues between the two of them are still unresolved, though they are both committed to working things out and eventually being at peace with one another. Through this whole thing, both my husband and I have been heartbroken. To see two men that you deeply love and respect, and whom you know truly love one another, in such sharp conflict is unsettling.
But it's real life. And as messy and confusing as it has been, we are comforted and reassured by the fact that we know both of these men truly love Jesus. Things haven't ended in the way most of us would have hoped, but we trust that Jesus is still King of this whole thing and that He does have a plan. Our preaching pastor gave a great sermon on Palm Sunday (yesterday) before the resignation letter was read. The topic was Jesus as King, even as He gave up His life. It was a timely and much-needed truth for our church, which has a season of grieving to do now, and a "new normal" to find as we say goodbye to a leader we dearly love.
Check out the audio here and let me know what you think;
Now - what does that have to do with a runner's slump?
Well it just so happens that while all of this difficulty has been unfolding, I've run... 6 miles total. 6 miles since my half marathon. Ouch.
Sometimes real life gets in the way of running. It made me realize how much my body has come to depend on running as a way to process and to release tension. It has also made me realize that as much as my body is aching and crying out for a good run, my spirit is aching and crying out for a good cry.
What I need most deeply at this time, is to experience the comfort of knowing that Jesus is still King. The Bible calls us to cast all of our anxieties on the Lord because He cares for us. Believe me, I've been taking God up on that one these past few weeks. None of this is a surprise to Him, and He knows exactly how He is going to work everything out for our good. I don't see it now, but I know from past experience that I can trust Him. One step at a time.
As I head back into a training season this week (did my first two miles today!), I do so with a renewed commitment to run hard after Jesus.