Erin and I are planting a church on the Southside of Chattanooga. This idea was brought to me by the Tennessee Valley Presbytery MNA committee in the spring, a group of people hoping to plant around nine new churches in the Chattanooga area in the coming years.
You could hear a pin drop. At this year’s men’s retreat, 127 pairs of eyes were glued to a man vulnerably sharing his broken story.
I was reminded again just how badly we need to let others see our weaknesses and doubts, our fears, and our failures. What fascinated me most about the testimonies was that these men were letting others see their sin, their shame, their fear, their hurt…and we loved them for it. Something inside of us was stirring.
“No one will remember you.”
I was serving as an intern at a church in St. Louis. We were on an overnight bus ride with the students headed on a weekend ski trip. It was the middle of the night, and the bus had gone deafeningly quiet. I couldn’t sleep because of the lack of legroom, so I was listening to chapel sermons that I had missed from the previous semester of seminary.
Discipleship is not easy. It is a slow process to grow in your love for Jesus and walk in faith and maturity. The disciples walked with Jesus for three years. And when he was raised from the dead, he found them hiding behind a locked door. Later, after being restored, Peter was more concerned about John’s future than he was about his own path with Jesus. The men who loved him most could not seem to rest in his love for them. It’s like this for us too.
Most mistakes have a shelf life. When you get a speeding ticket, it takes 2-5 years for it to come off of your driving record (trust me on this one!) For unpaid financial accounts, it takes seven years for it to come off of your credit report. Essentially, at some point, after time has passed, your record can be clean again. It will be new – really new. It will be as if nothing had ever been held against you. But as you wait for the mistakes to roll off your account, you live in the uncomfortable dissonance that your record is affecting your life.
“I couldn’t even sing. I would just come to church. I would cry throughout the entire service. But I couldn’t open my mouth to participate.”
Close friends of ours from another church had been through an excruciating experience. Nine months pregnant, they went in for a final checkup in preparation for delivery, and they found no heartbeat.