Pastoral Musings from Rain City

it's about 'what is church?' it's about whether 'emergent' is the latest Christian trend or something more substantial. it's musing on what it means to live the city, in America, in community, intergenerationally, at this time in history...

Wednesday, April 15, 2009


After a marvelous Easter celebration, I've no doubt that God is at work in the world and in His church. We saw people meet Christ, and saw hundreds step into God's story in order to bring hope to the world. I'm grateful for this, and confident that God will continue to work among us. At the same time...

This week my musings range towards the darker side of things. I'm not sure why. Maybe it's that winter is hanging on here in Montana and the "how long O Lord" of winter has me thinking about bigger issues about which humanity and creation cry out, "How long O Lord?" Maybe it's because I'm tired. Maybe it's because I've been doing a lot of research and reading lately about global hunger, poverty, and the impending water crisis. But whatever the reason, I'm wondering, "How long O Lord?" quite a bit this week. This is what I asked God in my prayer diary...

How long will you wait to act in this world and bring an end to the disease and hunger, the war and poverty, the senseless violence and suffering? I feel as if I'm supposed to just jump in and do my part, throw one starfish back into the ocean, and I can do that, will do that. But come on God, the endless plagues, famines, wars, and oppressions must be wearying to your soul, not to mention your reputation as a good and loving God. Why not act? Why not set up your rule? Why not put an end to the madness? How long O Lord?

I've a second complaint, also in the form of a prayer request. It seems that we, your people, are prone to having our worlds shrink when we say yes to following you. It doesn't happen that way all the time, but it happens that way all too often. Why is it that we, your people, know each other, but not our neighbors? Why do we fight about little slivers of doctrine, trying to dissect the interplay of man's free will and your sovereign power, but sort of gloss over the main things, the things that are intended to propel us into the world as people of hope and celebration, mercy and generosity? Why is this God? Why do you put up with that? Why do you put up with us? Can you teach us to see the main thing, to fixate on the main thing, to teach each other the main thing, to live the main thing?

We've plenty of institutions doing things in your name. We've lots of words, denominations, camps, schools, para-church organizations, web sites, blogs (yes, I know). But your real life, it seems to me, is like 1/2 tsp. in these gallons of activity. Maybe you should evaporate the rest of it so that the world can see you more clearly. I pray that you'll do this distilling work, pray that you'll enable we who desire to love you, and love our neighbors, to be fortified, purified, so that we might live out our calling more fully.

I know, I'm the pastor. I'm supposed to inspire. The reality for me, though, is that I sometimes hold joy and confidence in one hand, and struggle in the other. This is one of those times. I can't help thinking that sharing my own journey, my own struggles, my own wrestlings, is appropriate sometimes. God can take it when we're frustrated, and maybe it's right for the larger community to see these musings, not just the happy ones. Just read the Psalms and you'll find that out. So there it is... right from my journal on this snowy day in Montana.


Your thoughts?


At 15/4/09 08:56, Blogger Lilly Roadtrip said...

Thanks for sharing your thoughts, wrestling, and struggles. It's refreshing and encouraging to hear your honesty and rawness. In fact for me, your struggles are inspiring. They give me hope that I'm not alone.

At 15/4/09 12:43, Anonymous Anonymous said...

i agree with her, that i see the same struggles in my life and i wonder at times,'how long' too !
Thanks for your postings it gives me faith,hope and love.
Your faithful,humble servant Michael

At 15/4/09 14:42, Blogger ptr said...

Thanks for this heartfelt post Pastor. Like the rest have assured you, you're definitely not alone. I feel this tension between God's promise and silence on an almost daily basis and see it as one of the over-arching themes of my life. It reminds me of what that poet Bob Dylan says in one of his songs,

"I hear the ancient footsteps like the motion of the seas. Sometimes I turn, there's someone there, other times it's only me."

Unfortunately, for several years now I feel like the latter has been happening more and more frequently in my life. I think I hear God's "footsteps," his calling, his voice, but when I turn and chase after Him I find myself in yet another dead end... confused, angry, and alone.

At 15/4/09 20:17, Blogger Sherry said...

I am finally able to start catching up on reading my favorite blogs. I am a bookkeeper and it's been a long and busy tax season.

This post and your prayer are so beautiful; thoughtful and honest. I always appreciate your perspective as it seems cross party lines, denominational lines and doctrinal lines. It cuts right to the raw emotion of one who pleads to God on behalf of our world and for those who suffer. For those of us who see the world as it and long for God’s justice and mercy, your prayer goes right to the heart.

Thank you.

At 15/4/09 23:17, Blogger Michael said...

Rather than follow the pack in echoing your lamentation and expressing the comfort this particular post has brought me personally (which is admittedly appropriate), I would like to offer YOU a touch of comfort. You don't know me, because in your tireless starfish throwing I imagine the shapes and faces begin to look alike. However, as a person renewed in Christ because of your devotion to diligently utilizing your gifts for His glory, I'd like to thank you.

I am a piece of rock candy stirred into crystallization, in part, by you. I am a former spectator brought off the bench with my track spikes on, sprinting down the track with the baton YOU handed me clutched deftly in my hand. I was a wall builder who now practices ladder craft in order to bring the light of Christ over every social barrier because you challenged me to. I am undeniably and irrevocably closer to Jesus, and more poised to live for Him because you faithfully step up to the podium every Sunday.

Now I ask you, is that not enough? I don't presume to know the thoughts of God but I'll take a creative license and pose that you ask "how long" and He might ask you to allow Him to handle the timing and know that He is God. That's not to say it's wrong to be discouraged by the overwhelming amount of hurt in this world, but I would like to offer you a moment of solace. A reminder that Jesus is a beacon of hope through YOU whether you always recognize it or not.

Thank you for being so publicly vulnerable so that we might extract joy from your sorrow. Thank you for following God to Seattle. Thank you for speaking His word with a vengeance! Thank you for touching my life. It might not feed the starving or heal the sick, but I am incredibly thankful for what you do Richard.

Michael Monroe


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