I’ve spent a lot of time in thought and wonder about how it is we relate to God lately. Part of that is because of the sermon series I’m finishing up and the one I’m about to begin, but the other part is because COVID-19 and this pandemic does not lend itself to the ideas we generally have about God.
I was raised to look at God as comforter, as redeemer, as this person we run to when the chaos of life spins us into our tracks and we don’t know where to turn. And while that is a nice way to think about God during a pandemic, I wonder how much it takes away from the true blessings of God and how much this line of thinking holds us back.
Reading this week from Like Stepping Into a Canoe by William B. Kincaid, I was struck by something he wrote. “There’s something about grapping with the presence of a disruptive God that fosters some restlessness.”
We are stuck in restlessness right now and we are longing for resilience. As this pandemic and changes to everything continue on we’re looking forward to being one day closer to normal, whenever or whatever normal looks like.
But to look at God as disruptive is not a way we often talk about or think about God. I struggled growing up with this dichotomy of a comforting God and the way I related to God. I did not grow up in a world where I saw comfort in God. I saw beautiful things happen through God in transition, in trauma, in the wonders of changes.
Change is the only constant has been my motto in life for as long as I can remember, and with every change (which there are no doubt dozens and hundreds and limitless amounts) we find God. It’s not really in the comfort God brings to us. That’s nice and God does bring us comfort. But we find God in the disruptions.
Kincaid goes on, “Were Jesus to be the destination instead of the way, or a room instead of a door, a prescription instead of the truth, we might feel more settled. If ministry itself felt a little more defined and a lot less messy, or if it offered finished products and less unfinished business, we might arrive at a satisfying pace much more easily. … In other words, not only is restlessness here to stay to some degree, it is a sign that you are invested and that all this matters to you.”
We wouldn’t feel restless or upset if none of this mattered. We wouldn’t want or desire the comfort of God if it didn’t matter. The disruption God creates in this world, in our lives, in the church is for our benefit to see and show us how much this matters to each of us, to remind us of God’s strong presence in our lives, and to reorient us toward our Creator.
“Resilience is not lowering our head and pushing through until we have nothing left to give, but rather the calm confidence that comes from believing we did, in fact, hear the call of God and the church correctly and are now pursing the vocational path we believe to be our own.”
Restlessness and resiliency are key to our ministry and our mission in Christ, as believers as leaders as ministers of Christ. These two things coexist in a way that allow us to continue to move and grow and learn as our faith journeys continue.
Our restlessness during pandemic, during transition, during new things happen leads to our resiliency in Christ. The two go together, they work hand in hand, and they give us the strength to keep on keeping on, to recognize the wonders of a disruptive God, and to see God in those disruptions and moments when it seems all chaos is breaking loose.