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Christmas Morning


I’m going to do something today that I don’t usually do. The following glimpse into my soul wasn’t written to be shared on any public forum. Ahead is some of my raw, middle of the night, “can’t sleep,” verbal processing before the Lord, which I only ever intended to share with my co-pastors about the glories and agonies of “leading” within the local church. They reflect my hope and my heartbreak; my joy over beauty I have been in the room to see…and my deepest remorse and regrets. They are a mirror to my conviction that Jesus is not done with His Church, but continually desiring to purify her to live most worthy of her calling. They are also a mirror to my exasperation and my repentance for wounds I’ve endured and ones I have contributed to in a system that I see very much needing the loving touch of the Refiner’s Fire. 


This journal entry came on the second day of a pastoral retreat filled with tears, just after God began doing some miraculous work in reawakening and realigning our hearts toward a path for our congregation that makes me want to shout from the rooftops. And I will. But first, we will be spending the next months glorying and dreaming with our congregation directly about the hope and possibilities of a family that walks more closely, loves more deeply, and serves more purely…without anyone being left behind or out of the loop. Please pray for and with us. To my Overflow Family, your prayers are being answered in our midst and I. Can’t. Wait.


For now…here’s my journal entry, “Christmas Morning.”



“Last night, I didn’t get a lot of sleep.”


I am an avid fan of sleep, giving it five out of five stars: highly recommend! On the rare occasions I have a night like this, it is usually due to a bad dream or some type of unsettled state in my soul or body. This was different. The last time I remember feeling this, it was Christmas Eve and I was a kid, in a standoff with the sun, daring it to just peek the tiniest touch over the horizon, so I could run to wake the people I love and unwrap treasures that had filled my wishlist for what seemed like forever.


I am writing this while on a staff retreat with the Pastors of my church, and in the wee hours of this morning, they are the loved ones I can’t wait to wake to discover together what treasures God has for us on our wishlists. For the past five and a half years, we’ve been on the journey of re-birthing a church in obedience to God and a deep desire to model a leadership of multiplied diversity that looks like the practice and teachings of the New Testament, truly as the parts of the One Body of Christ. It has been a beautiful gift, and there is no one else I’d rather share the journey with, but can I be REAL for just a second? It has also been excruciatingly HARD. We’ve seen transformational moments we will cherish for eternity, but we have also experienced more guttural levels of grief and disappointment in these years than perhaps any other period of our lives. I have been frustrated and, at times, have contributed to a system that has caused frustration to some of the precious people I hold most dear. It has been immensely worth it, but I have also spent MANY moments asking, “Does it have to be like THIS?” What are we missing?


That brings me to this week. Believe it or not, I had another night of broken sleep just days ago, an extreme rarity for me. Suffice it to say that night wasn’t Christmas. Feeling once again buried under the weight and false responsibility of a million needs and unfinished strategies for church health, God spoke to me in my unconscious. In the dream, we were at a worship service that was nearly empty. We were stunned and discouraged, but pressed through. 


Afterward, everyone was leaving. I saw several family members who had come from out of state to visit our church and see all God was doing. I was apologetic and embarrassed, though they seemed unfazed. All of the pastors left except me and Pastor Chris, who stayed to lock up. There were a few other members of the band & tech team remaining. Suddenly, a mob of people flooded the Worship Center, like it was Black Friday. We couldn’t figure out why they were there, but decided to do a second service, at the start of the next hour.  


Just then, I realized I had taken my shirt off somewhere and just had my white undershirt on. I began searching frantically, multiple times through our building, but couldn’t find it. In the meantime, I noticed that my socks were sweaty. Seeing another pair in our prayer room, I took mine off to switch them out. First, I stepped out again to search for my missing shirt. When I came back, the new socks were gone. 


The church was buzzing with excitement, and here I was with no shirt and no socks or shoes on. Going to make one last search, I saw a group of 5-10 people leaving. I tried to stop them and tell them we were about to start the service, when the lady leading the group said, “That’s okay. We wanted to be somewhere where they were depending on God fully, but I don’t feel this is it.”


It felt very religious and judgmental. I tried to encourage them to stay, but they left. As I walked down the hall asking God for the grace to forgive them, He said, “You’ve been spending the last hour looking for your shirt and socks when you could have been on your face asking what I want to do for these people.” It wasn’t condemning or judgmental, but convicted me deeply. Then I woke up.   


Taking this beauty to my friends, we sensed some things right away. It was a call to surrender from places we have been sweating and striving to clothe ourselves to appropriately “lead the people,” when Jesus is the LEADER of His Church. We need only remember that we are already clothed in the simplicity of our priestly white garments and our vulnerable unclothed feet, which both “stand on holy ground,” and join the rest of creation in the dust of the Fall, in the grand privilege of carrying Good News to every person we meet.


We are to stop obsessing about cultural systems and perceptions, and to go back to our face to wait upon the Lord for what HE desires for the sheep HE alone can lead. Jesus leads His Church. The rest of us — all of us — stand on the level ground of the Cross which still invites us with two words: “Follow Me.”


Today is Christmas Morning in my soul. We will come together and begin to discern what a Church led by HIM actually looks like. Among the gifts we will open, we aren’t looking for designer clothes or new pairs of socks. We are already clothed. We’ve come asking for souls to be saved and stories to be restored. And I am giddy with delight, because I know my God, our Leader, delights to do more than we have the capacity to ask or imagine.  

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2 komentarai


Nicole Hathorn
Nicole Hathorn
6 days ago

I, too, give sleep 5 out of 5 stars ;) I cannot wait to watch God move in this season at Overflow. Wow! Thank you for sharing. You’ve got me all excited about Sunday and beyond!

Patinka

Wow. Thank you for sharing your heart so deeply and transparently.


I was a kid, in a standoff with the sun.” Is a killer lyric if I ever saw one, let’s develop that one my friend. Love you brother!

Patinka
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