When you serve in youth ministry, it can take a toll on your body. Over the past few months I’ve started to have serious back pain, so I went to see a Chiropractor. He asked me if I had any serious injuries over the past 3 or 4 years and I mentally tabulated all of my ministry related injuries: bruised ribs, hyperextended knee, 2 concussions, many skateboard wrecks, a torn rotator cuff and much, much more. Every time I had gotten hurt, I was messing up my spine and now I have to pay a pro to pop everything back to where it should be.
Our spiritual lives like our physical bodies can experience a similar attrition and wearing down as we seek to live like Christ in a messy world.
Life is hard, jobs change, we get sick, health issues arise out of nowhere, and sometimes we get blindsided by the death of a friend or family member or by an unexpected financial burden. These are all physical things, but they can mess with our spiritual life and relationship with God. An example from my own life: I once met with 2 young people, a brother and sister, whose aunt and cousin were murdered and I was asked the question “why would God let this happen?”…I don’t know and I still don’t know. It’s a question that I think about quite a bit and if I were completely honest it’s a part of my spiritual life that I wrestle with and bring before God in my prayers. Our spiritual life can get knocked around by the experiences we have and the situations we find ourselves in. Have you ever had the wind knocked out of you? It’s not a great feeling to have your lungs go flat for a second. In the same way, we can get our spiritual wind knocked out of us in the stressful, traumatic, and frustrating moments of life.
Teleios a cool greek word that gives me hope
Paul in 1 Corinthians 13:8-12 says this:
Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
See that word in bold up there? That word “Teleios” or “completeness” gives me a lot of hope because the creator is still writing my story and he’s writing yours as well. God isn’t done with me and God is not done with this world. I have seen a worrying trend of people feeling shame about doubt, fear, and worry as if those are things that Godly people aren’t supposed to feel. Read Psalm 22, a cry from David in a time when he felt like God had abandoned him, or 1 Kings 19, where Elijah tells God “I have had enough Lord…Take my life for I am no better than my ancestors who have already died”. We see over and over again in scripture, people who are scared, tired, worried, doubting, and a faithful creator always steps in to show his grace.
In my current state I don’t have all the answers, I don’t have it all together, and I try really hard to do the best I can and long for the day in Paul’s words when “we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known”.
Even if I don’t get God, God gets me. When I was kid I grew up in a 2-story house with a balcony. When I was young I really wanted to jump off the balcony onto our couch in the living room below and my parents would always warn me that if I jumped I would break my neck and die. As an 8 year old, my concept of death was to start over on a Nintendo game and I was so angry that I couldn’t jump off the balcony. As an adult I now know in full why an 18 foot drop onto a couch with a hard metal fold out bed is a bad idea. My parents had a better idea of the situation then I did and in the same way, when we put our trust in God we are putting our trust in someone who has a much better view of the things we experience.
As a new year comes around, you might be making a New Year’s resolution. I don’t like New Year’s resolutions because I tend to get overly ambitious and commit to more than I can actually do. I like to think of it as a “second wind”. Have you heard that term before? It’s like a burst of energy after you’re worn out, it’s a recommitment to a goal. What if, instead of committing to something new, we reflect back on the things that are weighing us down spiritually and keep us from doing the work of the kingdom of God? The author of Hebrews says it like this in Hebrews 12:1
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.”
What’s weighing you down? What’s keeping you from using your talents and skills to do the work of the kingdom of God in your family, workplace, and community? The Church can create programs and opportunities to serve, but you don’t need a Church to tell you to start a canned food drive for the homeless, to collect winter clothes for the poor, to mentor a high school or jr high student or to spend time with the elderly in our community. There are so many needs in our world that God has put us here to meet and we so often miss it because our faith is out of alignment with the real and physical calling that Jesus has given us to “Go out into all the world and make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19-20).
The great Chiropractor
Christ has been called “The Great Physician”, draw near to him and let him be your spiritual chiropractor. We all have pain, struggles, and baggage, but the creator has big things for us to do. Paul says in Ephesians 2:10:
“For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.”
LCC has a lot of great stuff planned for 2016, but it starts with a Real God, who is using Messy People, to change lives in Longview TX. He made you to do awesome stuff and whether you worship at LCC or one of the many churches that are a part of the body of Christ, I hope that your coming year is filled with opportunities to serve and bless others in the name of Jesus.
Associate Minister (youth)