It’s nearly 1:00 AM, and I’m wide awake. I haven’t slept much this week, mostly by choice. I’m an late-to-bed, early-to-rise kind of guy. I’ve been thinking a lot about the events of this past week. It’s been one of the most significant weeks of the past year. And it’s barely Thursday! Here’s a smattering of what’s been going on:
- I’ve officially been a hospice chaplain for one year (as of Tuesday). I never thought I’d do something like this. I’ve always been convinced that I’m more of an apostolic/evangelistic guy (in other words, I start things). While I still think that’s true, I’ve discovered that I’ve got a lot of pastoral gifting (watching over and caring for others). I truly love the patients, families, and staff I get to serve on a daily basis. Just off the top of my head, my “hospice flock” consists of thirty patients, about that many more in family members, a staff of ten in the office, and at least sixty more family members who’ve lost loved ones in the past twelve months. I’ve helped two terminal patients become followers of Jesus, one just three days before they passed on from this life. I’ve helped others unload their shame, regret, and guilt in exchange for comfort, hope, and peace that can only be found in Jesus. They didn’t go into eternity with baggage. That’s incredibly humbling, knowing that God (for whatever reason) placed me in this place, in this time, to be there with these precious people in their incredibly hard circumstances.
- I don’t miss “going to church.” My mom and mother-in-law probably cringe at that! Having experienced the power and simplicity of simple church in the last two years we were in VA, it has seemed so strange when we have gone to church. Even when I’ve preached (which was a blast), it’s felt very strange. It all seems like a lot of time, money, and effort that (for the most part) seems to effect little life change (although I know it does for some people). It’s not wrong to do church like that, but doing a weekly service pales in comparison to actually doing life with a group of Christians–challenging each other, encouraging each other, praying for each other. Showing up on Sunday isn’t church. Living on mission with Jesus with others who are living on mission with Jesus is church. The group we’re hanging with on Monday nights is slowing evolving into something very cool and very significant…
- Intentional “missional” living works. This past Monday, Laura and I had our regular group of folks over to grill out. We also invited some other friends who are mutual friends of most people in our group. The difference is, they don’t go to church–in fact, some were burned by the church years ago. Toward the end of the night, a discussion began on God. The way it started: one of our friends mentioned an episode several weeks ago where their car died, and one of our group gave them a car to use until they could find another. This person stated, “Who does that? That will mean something to us for a long time.” That got the conversation started, and it progressed from there. The cool thing is this–it’s open-ended. It will continue! I’m drop dead convinced that when followers of Jesus actually live out what they believe, it will create interest and curiosity within those who are (at least) open-minded or (at most) seeking spiritual truth. Our group living out the gospel literally (as Acts 2:47 says) has created favor with these dear friends of ours.
- Acts 2:46-47 isn’t a pipe dream. Those two verses speak of the very first Christians doing life together on a daily basis. They shared their stuff with each other, they ate together regularly–they were family. This week, that started happening for our group. Yesterday afternoon, we got an invite by one of the couples in our group to come over for dinner that evening. Totally spur of the moment. Laura and the kids were visiting with her mom, and thus couldn’t make it. But I was able to go and hang out with this couple and another family–the one that borrowed the car. A great time with great food and great conversation. When being a Christian isn’t seen as a series of events but a lifestyle to live in community with others, that changes everything.
Wow. It’s late. I need to hit the sack. And after I’m done hitting it, I’m going to hit the hay. After I hit the hay, I’m sure my knuckles will be pretty sore. Then I’ll go to bed.