never.

God has a way of always showing up.

there’s a sensation i experience every time fall starts to roll around – the air grows slightly crisp, it’s cool and dry, and there’s a mild bite and chill to it. it’s a little sentimental. it calls to mind some of the more pleasant experiences of my life – worship retreats, early morning commutes from Lexington to Berea before i started attending church in Lexington. it calls to mind late 2013 when i began working in Lexington, and seeing a girl. it reminds me of when we went to Southland a few times – a church that caught my attention long before i started attending in August of 2016. now, Southland ain’t a perfect church, and/but/so that’s not the point of this post. but i remember feeling something when i went there for the first time. some sense of camaraderie, some sense of community, some sense that made me understand how/why it’s a place that so many people – and of such varying church background – attend.

it reminds me of a weekend i spent with my dad in Ohio a long time ago – probably 2008 – we stayed in a Holiday Inn Express and had coffee at a Borders on a Saturday morning. at the time, i was big into Hillsong United and i heart revolution had just come out, so i was listening to it that morning. it reminds me of football games with my dad; of helping him mow the lawn on Saturdays before asking if i could go inside and watch baseball around 2.

it recalls a few more bitter times, to be sure – i could list them off if i wanted to give them a little more credence, but i won’t at present.

i guess you could say that this fall air gets me thinking about the faithfulness of God a little bit. of, how the song says, all of my life, in every season, He is still God, and i have a reason to sing, a reason to worship. it makes me think of God’s “never” statements.

 

I’ll never leave you. (Josuha 1:5.)

I’ll never forsake you. (also Joshua 1:5.)

I’ll never break my covenant with you. (Judges 2:1.)

I’ll never cast you out. (John 6:37.)

He’s never failed, He’s never abandoned us, He’s never turned His back when we turn ours on Him – in fact, have a look at 2 Timothy 2:13 –

if we are faithless, He remains faithful – 

for He cannot deny Himself.

and theologically, this is the wonder of what God did for us in Christ – He’s put every bit of stock in what Jesus did for us, not what we could do for Him – so even when we’re faithless, He’s faithful because otherwise, He’s denying Himself.

so think of everything He is – Savior, Healer, Provider, Friend, Deliverer, Liberator, Victor – and remember that He can never stop being any of those, it’s who He is and who He will always be.

[oak.]

changes are like winter

they test the deepest roots

they pause our growth, they cause us pain 

they bear a cold, harsh bite 

the days are long, the nights are dark 

the winds are ever strong 

they make our branches brittle, which bend and, at times, break 

they make us beg for mercy, ‘make it end, for Heaven’s sake!’ 

when it does, we always find – that hope is like the spring 

our branches have vigor, they regain their youth 

their strength returns to swing 

they sway with subtle, gentle breezes 

moving, yes, but firm 

the roots get deeper, have more reach 

as they rediscover life 

they feed into their habitat 

and ease their neighbor’s strife 

and when we hope, we’re stronger than we were the time before 

the winter took its vicious toll; took all the strength we had, and more. 

 

I’d like to think we’re not unlike a tall and healthy oak 

tested, yes, but broken? no

steadfast in our time 

facing every season with a mighty, willing spirit 

and never swept away 

in touch with our environments – and never left alone 

giving life to those around us 

and supported when we need it 

standing tall, and standing always 

never to be defeated

soil.

Jesus talked about what happens when seed – the Word – is sown.

you know, if you think about it a little bit, He’s saying that about 25% of the soil on which the Seed is sown allows the seed to take root and grow. the other 75% is trampled underfoot, eaten by birds, withers because of a lack of moisture, and is choked by thorns – or cares of the world.

Jesus paints an uphill battle for us.

but He still calls us to it – and i think it’s because it is a challenge. because there’s no guarantee that it’ll work. and He modeled this: He came and did everything He did – perfect life, unjust death, resurrection, etc – knowing that He’d get a small percentage of us.

 

but He did it.

and so should we, i reckon. after all, Jesus said that all of heaven rejoices over one sinner who comes home. so the tone of Jesus seems to be: it’s worth it.

every soul that comes home – even if it’s one in four, one in a hundred – is worth every bit of effort. if you serve in a church, then bless you. bless you for every door you open, every hand you shake, every knob you turn on a sound board, every string you strum, every note you sing, every square inch of carpet that you vacuum or tile that you sweep and mop, every roll of toilet paper that you change, every second of video you help produce, every bit of payroll you enter for church staff, every phone call you field, etc. and even if your service isn’t within the context of a church, but the capital-C Church, then you are also blessed – every kid you hang out with, every conversation you have over coffee to let someone tell their story, every inch of soil you displace to build a well to create access to water, every person you help access health care, every prayer you raise and any and every job i missed over this –

 

blessed are you.

 

i think it’s the church’s job to till the soil and water it. Paul actually talked about how one person plants, another waters, and God gives growth. this tells me that there’s something we can do to help that 25% of seed take root and bear fruit and help the kingdom grow exponentially. so, i think Jesus is – and this isn’t even the right way of articulating it – grateful for the work you do to prepare soil. because it brings joy to His heart to see sons brought to glory. it’s good work. keep on doing it.