There is growing excitement for expanding our church engagement by opening the sanctuary for in-person services, the first event happening this coming Sunday.
In reality, we know the church has been “open” since the pandemic started its vengeful attack; it has just looked different. I have been able to make new friendships and prayer partnerships, including with our dear Jo Ann, who is now part of our heavenly congregation. I thank God for these means of engagement, and I anticipate many more deep connections in this way. And now that we’re able to be together more in-person, I have enjoyed some beautiful walks with weekly prayer partners. God is good!
The most important renovation, of course, is the renovation of our hearts, which is all about the demo and design work God desires to do in each of us as He shapes us into who He has created us to be, both as individuals, and as the body of Christ at Baseline. Here “DIY” doesn’t mean Do It Yourself. The real “DIY” is the Holy Spirit Dwelling In You. This oft-used quote from CS Lewis in his book, Mere Christianity, seems to be appropriate to include here; sit with it as if it is the first time you’re reading it:
Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on; you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make any sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of - throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were being made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself.
How are you experiencing God’s rebuilding process in your life and journey of faith? Quite frankly, I am not always sure what God is up to. At times I ask myself if the work God is doing is worth the price I feel I am paying in the process. In some rooms, I get a sense of exactly what he is doing, and I experience his fulfillment and blessing. In other parts of the house, He is taking things down to the studs; yanking off the drywall and exposing the mold and dry rot that makes my life so shaky and unstable. It hurts. It is scary. But in the end; it is His work, His power, and His perfect design. By His power, nothing is by accident, and nothing will be out of place.
If the pandemic of this last season has taught me anything, it is this: There is very little I control. Some of us have experienced the kind of renovation that takes the walls of our souls to the studs. We have experienced great pain and loss. Things will never be the same. I would like to encourage you to consider repeating often a commonly used phrase in Alcoholics Anonymous: “I can’t; God can; I think I’ll let Him." To me, this is the greatest statement of surrender to God’s power and strength that is afforded to us.
I have recently stumbled upon Psalm 5:3 in the Passion Translation: “At each and every sunrise you will hear my voice as I prepare my sacrifice of prayer to you. Every morning I lay out the pieces of my life on the altar and wait for your fire to fall upon my heart.” This is a bold confidence. Chances are, there will be tinges of smoke and fire left by the consuming fire of the Holy Spirit if we lay out the pieces of our lives on the altar every day. Growth doesn’t happen apart from difficulty and suffering.
Author Priscilla Shier described the renovation work of the Holy Spirit in this way: “The Holy Spirit’s job is to chip away everything that doesn’t look like Jesus.” There is great truth here, as convicting as it is comforting. Discipleship is a life-long pursuit after God’s glorious Holy Spirit! Oftentimes it feels like a “wild goose chase” because of the mystery behind His work!
The walls and floors of our sanctuary have been painted and polished to give a new and inviting appearance. But the most important work will not be outward appearances, but what has been cultivated and excavated in our souls since we last set foot in that building. As you enter this Sunday, imagine two signs above the door of the foyer: “Every member a minister” and “The real work of the church happens outside this building.”
P.S. A big shoutout to Rich and Katrina White and Craig Wallace for their leadership in bringing about the beautiful and welcomed facelift to the interior space of the sanctuary. Thanks to all who helped with the renovation!