Clearing away the fog –
Our shoes are on, and the trail is ahead of us, but the trail is just about all we can see. My wife and I have packed our lunch for this glorious outing because all the books say that from Hannegan peak, one can see the good mountains around us: Challenger and Ruth, Baker and the Pickets, along with the endless expanse of mountains just to north in
Why do people do this for fun? It’s all about the seeing – or the hope of seeing – or because we saw once and feel the need to see again. People do this art of gentle suffering in hopes of encounter; with both creation and their companions – and if there were no hope of encounter – there would be no motivation whatsoever to continue. On this particular day, we saw nothing beyond 10 feet our so. But we’ll be back, because we know that, if we keep coming back often enough, eventually we’ll see – even in the Northwest.
Church life is really quite similar. There’s the hard work of relationships, the chill of change, the perseverance of serving, and the simple act of showing up week after week, in the same way the hiker shows up step after step…all of at must happen for a reason.
And ultimately, the reason should be about seeing Christ. As we keep showing up in His name, and listening for His voice in worship, and learning, and confession, and fellowship, something happens. What happens is that we see Him. Sometimes gloriously in praise and worship, sometimes clearly in His Word, and sometimes just a glimpse in another’s confession, or in receiving a helping hand. Of course there are other ways of seeing too, too many to name; they have to do with healing, and intimacy, and pain, and celebration. But we see the Lord – see His glory, if only in glimpses, and if only through foggy glass. And it’s the seeing that changes us forever, because the promise is that the seeing results in our transformation. Hope displaces fear. Beauty casts out ugliness. Honesty overcomes duplicity.
I don’t see on every hike. And I don’t see in every worship service, or every meeting, or every encounter with someone. I’m too spiritually near sighted to see consistently. But I have seen. And the seeing has changed me forever, and so I’ll keep showing up – keep serving, worshipping, confessing, forgiving, and giving. Why? Because out from the seeing comes the change – the move closer to the person God made me to be.
Leadership in Christ's church is really about helping people see, and that entails leading them up the mountain, and encouraging endurance and humility. But too often, it feels as if the pastoral community has resorted to promotional skills as motivator in hopes that we’ll all put on our boots and slog up the mountain. I’m not going to do that. I’m simply going to say this: In showing up to be the part of Christ’s church He invites me to be, I’ve seen – and this seeing is worth everything. And my hope then, of course, is that others will not just show up, but also see – Christ’s heart.
(Thanks to Larry Bushnell for the picture)