I want to tell you about a time I almost wrote a blog.
So, here around the office, we have a blog-writing schedule in which blog writing responsibilities are passed around to the pastors with an expectation that a couple of us, each month, put together words that are smart, challenging, informative, and all those other good blog qualities, in such a way that you will read them, like them (figuratively and literally, c’mon Facebook!) and be moved in some way by them.
The last blog I put together was back in November, and the fact that you’re just now getting another one from me is due to a fantastic marriage of God’s timing and my well-honed ability to put off blog writing to the point that Kelly and Tim just stop asking me about it.
But the thing is, I REALLY wanted to write a blog in April. Like, I had a message screaming inside of me like an alien from a Ridley Scott movie that was about to burst out of my chest if I didn’t put the words down in some format. I was convinced April was my month to write, and I could not wait to share what I felt like needed to be said. In fact, I even went to Tim to say, “Hey…are you cool if I say this phrase in my blog?” and he signed off on it, because he’s cool and progressive and would kinda enjoy seeing me take some heat from church people.
But then, by God’s providence, April wasn’t my month. And then somehow, neither was May. June? Nope. July? Yeah. It was. And I snuck out of it – but for a totally good reason! Now, the calendar and my persistent coworkers have caught up to me, and I have to write the blog and share the message.
But I’m not going to (again, for a totally good reason).
Here’s the story. Towards the end of March, something happened. Something not good. Something that was difficult to accept and tougher to process. I was called upon to act pastorally, and I just couldn’t. I didn’t know how. Have you ever been in a moment that made absolutely no sense, and you had to try to make sense of it, and no matter how hard you tried you couldn’t because it just made no sense? I wrestled with an issue and really felt compelled to share what I had experienced and what God taught me in blog form. But then, when it wasn’t my time to write, this little idea sat in my soul, grew legs and walked around and became this monster that was too big for a blog, demanding greater attention. Imagine my internal fist pump when I realized a few weeks ago that my turn to preach was coming up and it would kick off a fun little sermon series!
Naturally, God had bigger – and better – plans.
A few weeks ago, Tim walks into my office and says, “I don’t get this sermon series. Not feeling it. I’m thinking of going in a slightly different direction.” I wept. On the inside, not for real. How would this chest-ripping Monster ever see the light of day?
What followed is most likely one of my favorite conversations and brainstorming sessions I’ve ever experienced in ministry. Top 3 conversation, for sure. I let the Monster loose, and Tim took the idea and ran. And then I built on the idea, and then he built on that idea and made it better. This back and forth and the subsequent planning sessions have spanned hours.
What was birthed out of those sessions is a 3-week sermon series that might possibly be my most favorite sermon series of all time. It’s tough. It’s real. It is a conversation nobody EVER has in Church because it isn’t a place we ever want to go. The title?
“There is a God, and He hates me.”
Ok. Before you compose your strongly worded emails (please send to firstname.lastname@example.org), let’s be clear: God DOES NOT hate you. Not at all. Not even a little.
But sometimes…it feels like it, right? I mean, if we’re really being honest, there are times in our lives when we ask questions we don’t dare acknowledge publicly. Times when we suffer. Times when God allows things that hurt us. Times where we keep getting kicked in the face by life, and we don’t know how we are going to make it one more minute, and God chooses those moments to be quiet and seemingly leave us on our own. Those times.
For three weeks, starting the weekend after Labor Day, we are going to deal with these issues. These questions. Through the life of Job, we are going to talk about the pain and the reality of tragedy, and how to deal with the questions and the doubt and the anger, yes, even at God, in the midst of suffering. And we are going to see how God handles our mess in the most loving way possible.
Fair warning: the themes will be heavy and uncomfortable – but the topic demands it. This is NOT a series where skipping a week is a good idea. We will be wrestling with major issues like the sovereignty of God and how it intersects with our lives in ways that aren’t always easy to accept. If you miss a week, you will miss a key step in the journey of discovering how God changes our understanding of who He is in the midst of our suffering.
And full disclosure: this topic is so messy and so profound that, even after our conversations and planning sessions, the pastors don’t all completely agree on where we land on these issues. But even so, I’m so grateful that we have a pastor and a Church willing to openly confront the Monster and deal with the messy, hard realities of life.
This series will not be light-hearted, comfortable, or fun because life is not always puppy dogs and rainbows. But it will be honest, and we will bravely dive into an aspect of God’s nature most churches typically want to avoid. I cannot wait to see what God does during this series, and I hope you will commit to going on this journey with us.
So, no blog. Not this time. Hope to see you after Labor Day. It will be something.