Friday, May 22, 2020

For Such A Time As This

"As soon as you see the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God being carried by the Levitical priests, then you shall set out from your place and follow it.  Yet there shall be a distance between you and it, about 2,000 cubits in length.  Do not come near it, in order that you may know the way you shall go, for you have not passed this way before."
Joshua 3:3-4

This past Sunday, the church that we will be joining focused on this passage above for its message.  It focused on identifying what to do when you find yourself at a place that is unfamiliar.  When you don't know the way forward.  When life doesn't go as planned.  The lesson from Joshua being that the Lord led the way for His people forward, and He is still doing it today.

The pastor discussed a bit of the church's history over the past two years and how it had prepared them for this current crisis.  The church has strong roots in the town, founded in 1837 as Brownsburg Christian Church.  It has been growing and changing over the past 163 years.  

Now, this church is big.  Five thousand to six thousand, five hundred members/attenders.  Six services.  The church campus looks like a school campus in size.  It's close to mega church.  But when we consider the demographics of the community around it, it's proportionately size to the town and surrounding area.  For example, it would reach the same size percentage as Stonepoint does in Wills Point and Edgewood.

Two years ago, the church found itself at a decision point.  Given the church's growth and trajectory, it was time to think towards expansion.  Most of the elders and members assumed this would occur in the way this normally occurs.  Satellite campuses.  Church split to found another church in another location.  Etc.

Pastor John Dickerson had a different vision.  He knew God wanted them to go a different path.  He saw a much needed investment in digital technology.  Envisioning the churches expansion path forward in a virtual world.  To get services and more online and accessible, so that the church could have a world-wide reach.  This included live streaming services, updating the churches webpage to be more accessible and interactive.  Designing apps for various platforms to provide a centralized location for sermons and services, as well as modifying them for upload on popular platforms like Facebook and Youtube.  I've recently discovered their AppleTV app for example.  We were previously watching on TV via Facebook Watch.

This required a new way of thinking.  New equipment, new service roles.  It was an entirely different picture of how to proceed.  A completely new path.

And at the time, the need was not as easily recognizable.  Two years ago, who could have imagined the need for great numbers of people to experience church virtually.  

Here we are.

While Pastor John focused on Joshua, I kept thinking of Esther.  Esther was a young Jewish girl, taken into sex slavery, to be a concubine for the king, one of his "queens," who ended up capturing his attention.  It's not exactly the future she might have imagined for herself.  And yet, it's that very situation that put her in a position to save her people.

"And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?"
Esther 4:14b

Pastor John had the vision for the future, yes, and it was a digital vision that would be beneficial regardless of the times.  But it especially prepared the church for such a time as this.  It was a bold move in the past that made them particularly suited to grow and to help so many people in this crisis.  They've shared story after story of blood drive, of PPE drives, of food drives, of donations that are occurring and possible now because of their obedience then.

It prepared them to easily transition into virtual church.  To add services so that the members stay connected during this time.  To add a Thursday night worship service.  Virtual prayer services.  Etc.  Welcome Meetings over Zoom.  Small group meetings over Zoom.  To make a big church feel small.

While it would have been great to be able to go into a church when we moved here and get to know it, we still feel connected to this new body and know this is the place we are called to attend.  We have felt connected to them and they have been reaching out to us to check on us during this time.

No one expects a global pandemic, but they were prepared.

I think back over our own story the past year and how God prepared us for such a time as this.  How we would not have been able or in any position to move, if Jamie didn't know it was time to take a break from teaching and focus on Avalyn and Jude.  If I didn't lose my job.  I can look at how I've been prepared to work from home during this crisis at a brand new job and not be anxious, because I was already doing so in project work for months before we moved.

If we listen, if we follow, if we are obedient, God prepares us for the path ahead.  He sends His covenant ahead of us to show us the way.  And He teaches us along the way to be prepared for whatever situation He is leading us into.

How has God prepared you for such a time as this?  

And then the next question, are you stepping out and doing what He has prepared you for?  

Or are you hoping this moment will pass you by?

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