Thursday, September 18, 2008
This has been a volatile week on Wall Street, which is now in my back yard. I have to confess that I pay very little attention to the world of finance. I have never had much money to invest or to lose. The only market that concerned me the last few years was the price of a barrel of oil, and now that I don't own a car anymore, I don't even know about the price of a gallon of gas. I hear that it has been dropping, but then I also heard that Ike caused a spike!
It was impossible to ignore the chaos these past few days here in NYC. On Monday the media trucks with their satellite dishes mounted on top were lined up for blocks outside of Lehman Brothers on 7th avenue. Clearly this was big news. So I turned on the TV, read the NY Times and Wall Street Journal to try to understand what was going on in this city that I now call home. And I talked to my neighbors dressed in business suits on their way to the office as we rode down the elevator together. Anxiety is clearly the mood of the day.
My own anxiety hit me in an unexpected way. I have nothing, or rather very little, tied up in the markets. But a friend in the finance world told me that the "recession" had finally hit NYC, and then I did become concerned about the timing of planting a church in this city. Perhaps the unrest and insecurity will open hearts to the message of Jesus. But I have to raise money to get this church off the ground! What is happening this week can't be a good thing in terms of our fund-raising efforts!
It seems that since we heard the call to leave Michigan to come to NYC to plant a church, the odds have continually been stacked against us. The housing market fell hard in Michigan so that none of our launch team members have yet sold their homes, including us. Many have struggled to find jobs in NYC. And now this.
As I pondered these thoughts this morning, my mind went to a story about a man named Gideon. He was about to face a army much larger than his own, and God told him that his army was too big. How can an army be too big? Nevertheless, Gideon was asked to reduce his army to the point where the odds were overwhelmingly against any victory for Gideon. That is when God said he was ready. God knew that if the army was large, that is where the credit for victory would go. But if there was no way on earth that they could win, then victory must have come from an unearthly source.
This story helped me remember where I must put my confidence and trust. In God. He is not surprised by or anxious about a financial crisis. He is not dependent on the wealth of this city or the financial markets to do what he wants with Communitas. I learned again that my anxiety always comes when I forget who I work for. I repent! The greater the odds against success, the more God gets the credit when victory comes.
Tuesday, September 9, 2008
Chris and I look forward to using this space to chronicle, from time to time, this incredible journey we find ourselves on, and the lessons we are learning along the way. We find ourselves unexpectedly in a place we could never have imagined. Growing up in the suburbs of Detroit and living, for the most part, our entire lives in Michigan, we wake up now everyday in one of the largest and greatest cities in the world. Some days my first thoughts are "what in the world am I doing here?"
Then I remember. We are here because Jesus said "follow me" (to NYC), and we said yes. My yes didn't come easily or right away. It has been two years of me learning to "leave my nets", loosening my grip on my stuff and my life and my success, and deciding again if Jesus is worth following... if he is really worth my life. I have always answered "yes" to that question since I was a child, but I have found at this season of my life that I have to be confronted again about whether or not my life is my own. It seems clear to me now that all of my life I will be asked to revisit that question.
What I do see now is that Jesus wants to disrupt our lives- to keep us from clinging to the familiar, the places of safety and security with no risk. As I get older a part of me wants to settle down and take it easy. But at least for now, what I want more is to discover all that Jesus has for me. As Paul put it, as he neared the end of life sitting in a prison,
I want to lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus laid hold of me...
That's what I want- and I know he disrupted my life and brought me to Manhattan to help me lay hold of that for which he laid hold of me.
September 9, 2008