Summary: In this message, the first in the new church facility, Dave chronicles God’s faithfulness to Wildwind Church.
Wildwind Community Church
April 12, 2008
River of Life First Day
1 Corinthians 1:9 (NIV)
9 God, who has called you into fellowship with his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, is faithful.
Most of you know Christy’s mom passed away on April 5. It’s all so fresh. I spent most of this past week thinking about and writing mom’s funeral, knowing that this service was coming – this celebrative service where people would be excited, where I knew I would be excited, but frankly where I felt so drained that I just didn’t know what to say. The sermon you are hearing right now is actually officially titled “Experimental Sermon.” That’s because it was one of three I started for this occasion and by the time I scrapped the two before it, I was no longer confident that I’d end up sticking with this one either! I opened up a new document, wrote “Experimental Sermon” at the top, and off I went. One of the two I scrapped was very militant, talking about all the ways the church in America nowadays is misrepresenting God. That’s something I’m passionate about , but it can be a way of just kind of coasting sometimes when I’m at a loss for words. Then I wrote one that started out with losing mom and the timing of all this, how all this didn’t turn out the way I had thought and hoped it would, how I’m feeling so burned out, etc. It was a “real” sermon. Real depressing.
Then I realized that none of that is the point. The excitement of today isn’t the point. The exhaustion in my heart and mind isn’t the point. The point – and the reason we come to church week after week – is God is faithful. God has been faithful in our lives in the past week. God has been faithful to you. And you know what, God has been and continues to be faithful to Wildwind Community Church. Today is just one small evidence of that.
Back when Wildwind was running about 90 people, I remember driving home from somewhere one night, and I just hit the wall. I mean emotionally. I prayed, “God, I can’t do this anymore. Wildwind has a high attendance day and I’m up and feel worthwhile. Then that week someone sends me a critical email and I get down and feel depressed and want to give up. A few weeks later we set a new contribution record and I’m up and feel worthwhile. Then somebody misunderstands something I said in a sermon and leaves the church and I’m depressed and want to give up. A few months later we have a month where seven people make commitments to Christ and lives are changing and I’m on top of the world. That same week someone UNDERSTANDS something I said in a sermon and leaves the church and I want to give up! Then I get a note from someone thanking me for a sermon I preached that helped change their life in some way and I thank God for the opportunity to be a pastor and do what I do. A few months later I watch Christy suffering pain from someone in the church who has it out for her and I get depressed and just want to quit. A few days later I get the call that one of my leaders isn’t on board anymore and now I’m really down, but a few weeks after that, a new family comes to the church and tells me how great it is and I feel effective and worthwhile and wonderful. And let’s be honest. One of your relatives dies and though my heart breaks for you, I feel so good knowing that I was able to help you and care for you and be there for you and I wouldn’t ever do anything else. Then my own mother in law dies and I’m sad and exhausted and empty, and I just don’t know what to put on paper to bring to you that week.
Do you live with that? The ups and downs? Do you find that how you have performed and what has happened in your life in a given week determines your opinion of yourself or of God? Do you find you are up when the family is good, no one is sick or dying or recently dead, the money is flowing in, and you are doing well at work? And then do you find that you are down and depressed when there are problems in these or other important areas of your life? It’s easy to let that happen, isn’t it? It’s easy to get distracted and to let our feelings determine our faith. I almost did that in writing a message for you today. In my last series called Getting Free, I was on top of the world. I felt really close to God and words came easily and I knew how to encourage you and move you forward. Today, I speak to you from the desert. Sleep has not come easy most nights. Words are not readily available. And unlike other times when I have suffered something, I’m not even ready to preach to you about it, to pull out lessons from it, to process and learn from it. I can’t make heads or tails of what has happened. All I know is that it has left me numb and burned out and in many ways beyond words.