I picture pastors as very serious individuals. Suits, ties, and extremely composed. Well, the pastor at the church I attend doesn’t fit into any of that!
They open the service with a lot of singing. Their band is great and surprisingly, I can enjoy the music for the sake of music. While looking around, to my surprise, I found the pastor jumping around to the music. The expression on his face said he was singing along at the top of his lungs. It was nice to see a pastor not putting on some uptight image, he was really getting into the music and the message! As the music died down, he took his place on stage to lead the church in prayer. Of course, I don’t pretend to pray, so I was watching as he spoke. He had this giddy, happy looking smile on his face like he knew every word he spoke was true.
I don’t have to believe to appreciate a pastor that truly believes what he’s preaching. I think it’s gives him an edge on delivering his message to those of his congregation. He can connect with people, he can put it in terms everyone can connect with. He talked a lot about not questioning God’s plan. He said God has never been taken by surprise. He’s never “just thought of something.” He’s simply always known. He said there’s simply some things you’ll never understand on this side of heaven. This is where the pastor included his seemingly signature humor. Unfortunately, the only example I had room to write down was – Why are things you mail using ground delivery called shipments and things taken by boat called cargo? You’ll never know and you’ll also never understand God’s plan for you until you’ve made it to the other side of heaven.
The focus of service today was the book of Job. Now, if you’re absolutely not familiar with the Bible, Job was a “blameless” man. He lived his life in service to God and was rewarded for it. He was wealthy, had a wonderful family, a lot of land, and livestock. One day Satan approached God and presented the argument that it’s easy for Job to be blameless when he’s never had his faith tested. God believed Job to be unshakeable in his faith, so, he allowed Satan to test him. Satan wiped out Job’s livestock, killed his children, and his crops. Job maintained his faith. Satan once again approached God and was granted permission to “touch” Job. He was cursed with boils and some other afflictions I don’t remember. After thirty-something chapters of his friends and family telling him to curse God for abandoning him, he finally asked why. Ultimately, there’s a happy ending, but I don’t remember the details of it.
So! I have a couple take aways from today. To be honest, none of them resonate as deeply as last week’s take away, but they’re still worth sharing.
Knowledge of your ignorance is the first step toward true wisdom: In the case of religion and the focus of today’s service, the point is that you need to accept that you’re ignorant to God’s plan for you. So, stop asking why and accept God’s plan as it’s revealed to you. I think as a practical lesson, if you think you’re all-knowing, you’re probably more ignorant than you know. We all have room to grow.
Maybe your pain is so you can come out on the other side and help someone else: I guess, religiously, it’s just a suggestion for why you might be enduring your current situation. Something to toss around in your head instead of questioning God’s plan for you. As a non-believer though, I can see it. You can’t truly empathize with someone unless you’ve endured pain yourself. You’re also more likely to accept help from someone who has been at a low place in their life rather than someone who’s been living large their entire life. It’s a positive take on “misery loves company.” Not so much dragging someone else down into your misery, but sharing the misery you’ve endured and persevered through so someone else can see it can be survived.
Think eternal – Your bad day is just a moment: Out of everything today, I think that’s the most profound take-away from the service today. No matter what it is, a terminal diagnosis, laid off, or whatever… It’s temporary. I’m not saying it won’t take effort to overcome and maybe death will be your escape from it, but in the grand scheme of timelines, your suffering only happened for a moment. Look forward to the time after it!
God speaks during storms so you listen: I think this resonated the least for me. I’ve been through some pretty crappy storms and still haven’t been spoken to. I think I would’ve listened. I think for those that may have had faith and lost it somewhere along the way, this could truly be meaningful. God could be your eye of the storm, a calm moment to let you know you’ve got support to get through the rest of the storm.