When we first started the church planting journey about two years ago, I learned a hard important truth.
It was very simple and incredibly painful to find surrender in it.
Surrender, obey, release the outcome. We hear and sense God leading us - we obey - and almost immediately we start determining or controlling the outcome of that obedience.
So, God, if I do this or that - then this or that will happen. And once that happens, I will do this. And once I do this, I will see these results. And when I see these results, I will know...
I think you get the point.
We see it in the scriptures, it hits painfully against us. We do NOT control the outcome of our obedience. The results are in His sovereign hands. Ours is a process oriented faith. It has to be. Full surrender requires it. Otherwise, we are disappointed because what WE wanted doesn’t pan out. Then we blame God, frustrated. Thinking we made a wrong decision or that He isn’t trustworthy.
Trust me, I am quite friendly with this whole thing.
For example, we say yes to church planting. Okay, let’s do this. And within a few months, we have an entire plan and strategy built to perfection. Except it didn’t go that way, and we had to slam on the brakes fast. We learned we take one step, and WAIT. Then He leads us to another.
Of course, plans, systems, strategies are important. And, yet, we must walk them sensitively - treading carefully between our expectations and His purposes. Regular surrender, daily obedience.
God is starting to show me - it’s in EVERY part of following Him. Our entire faith encompasses this truth of releasing the outcome, that its process oriented, that we have no control over the results, and that we are only responsible for our faithfulness and choices in the process.
In one way, it’s incredibly freeing. In another, it makes it painful. Especially when it is related to our “enemies” or related to the brokenness of this world.
There have been some things over the last several years that have happened to me, happened to friends and family that have broken my heart and crushed my spirit. They are all unrelated and yet, horribly related. Different offenses and disappointments, but related because they occur not just in the world but
in the Christian community.
Forgiveness has become an issue - and I have desperately wanted justice. I. Want. Justice. I feel the pain of my own offense. I walk with friends and family in the pain of their offenses. And I want justice.
Related, but unrelated - the stories of bias, abuse, prejudice, and more - it’s not some distant news story where you shake your head and say a prayer and move on. We can shut off the news, turn our heads, and try to pretend it doesn’t happen. We can give excuses, make up the reasons why to help ourselves not feel the pain of a broken world and sometimes Christian culture that looks nothing like Jesus. But it’s real, and it’s happening every day. I have encountered it on personal level, with friends, and have counseled fellow Christ followers through it.
God has called me to the most painful of positions. Really, he calls us all to this place of balance. Positioning of experience, positioning of opening my eyes to it-insisting that I don’t ignore it, calling me to speak to it, and finally, THE MOST DIFFICULT, to do all of this with the surrender of justice and healing to Him.
It IS possible for me to do all of the things I listed above while releasing the outcomes to Him. I know it is. Man, I have fought it though. I resent it. It makes me angry. I openly confess I have been so angry. Moments of hatred have filled my heart towards some of the offenses and the people or systems responsible.
And God has been so good and kind to let me work through this. My anger from offense has turned to anger towards Him. The ONE who can take care of all of it. And, yet, His mercy and compassion has been mine as He has graciously with the utmost patience awaited my surrender. Surrender to His sovereign purposes, surrender to His ways of justice - even when I don’t like it or understand it.
And, He is entrusting me with something so sacred as He has tenderly placed the burden of this world’s brokenness on my shoulders. He has asked me to be a part of His process of loving humbly, walking justly, and showing mercy. He has called me to be a voice in the wilderness saying, this needs to stop.
But to walk this out in true grace and love, I have to surrender the need for justice. It has to be placed in His safe hands.
Since I was small, I wanted to change the world. I would see injustice, problems with systems, and more. I wanted to change it all, make a difference. There are two parts. One is mine and the other is His. And when I start trying to take over His, it gets messy. I’m realizing that when I can release the outcomes, justice and mercy, change of systems and people to Him, the anger settles in its rightful place of healthy anger. In my anger, I don’t sin because I’m trusting Jesus to deal with His part. I find I can speak to things when He requires it, and then I can release any result because my only responsibility was that - to speak.
I can see things and be called to simply watch and pray and not get in the middle of it, because for that particular minute I was called to do just that - watch and pray.
He didn’t call me to right all of the wrongs, but He did call me to build a bridge to Him. That means I have to get dirty and build. I have to sweat and experience the pain of hard, slow work. BUT, I can trust the finished product to Him. He has His part, and I have mine.
When I’m hurt or offended either by personal experience or by what I see and hear in this world - I CAN trust Him for justice. He makes all things new including the heart of the broken. He will pick up every broken piece. He will defend the crushed in Spirit. And one day, all will be made right. Until then, I will unapologetically do my part. That means I will insist on feeling the pain of injustice in this world (either my own or others), I will not ignore and I will say and do the hard things as He leads me.
He IS trustworthy and good and capable to hold the whole world in His hands.