Yesterday I was talking to my friend Levi about church earlier that day. He said that when he looked around he saw us as family, as dysfunctional one at that. I laughed and said, “That’s because that’s what we are!” We’re all hurting, broken, searching for something, and desiring to belong somewhere. Our church is going through a lot of changes right now. We changed pastors at the beginning of the year and then later several people moved to Corvallis to plant a church. It’s funny that the move has affected us in such a way since only a few people from the church actually left, but it feels like much more. For quite some time I’ve been feeling like something is stirring in the deep waters of Open Door church. I just haven’t been able to put my finger on it. I felt encouraged by that until recently.
My life as a single mom of four can be a very difficult journey. Three of my kids have been in the foster care system. That can do a lot of damage to their delicate hearts. I know that there are countless children who experience abandonment and rejection; it angers and saddens me. My kids have been with me for 5 years and we’re still dealing with the hurt on a daily basis. Lately things have been very difficult with one of my kids. We’re going to counseling and I’m hoping that will help over time. In the meantime, I need some help. I was beginning to think that maybe it really was time that I move out to 5 Rock Ranch even though I know that I belong here in Sheridan in this community of Open Door.
A couple of weeks ago my friend Lennox preached on Belonging. This came a day after one of my most difficult days. I was feeling very alone and angry. I sat there listening to him talking about what it means to belong and how some of us are standing on the edge with one foot in and one foot out. We’re ready to run, not fully committed to our dwelling together as a church family. The more he spoke the angrier I became. For the past 2 years I’ve listened to people talking about how we need to be real and transparent with one another; how we bear one another’s burdens. The word “intentional” is big in Christian circles these days. Not sure if you’ve noticed, but Christians do a whole lot of talking and forget about the walking it out part. So we talk about being real and intentional, reaching the community by loving the people. How do we bring healing through Christ to the people outside the church when it’s not present in the church? After church I went to speak to one of the men who has talked about being there and supporting. I left that conversation feeling even more alone and angry. I’m not sure I have ever been more angry; I could actually see flames. At this point I was wondering if I had heard God right when He told me to stay in Sheridan and when He showed me a way to do so. I waffled back and forth but always ended with, “Well, this is where I belong even if it doesn’t seem to make sense to me right now.”
Yesterday I stood in the back of the church when worship began. I’ve been praying that God’s spirit would just blow in like mighty wind. I began to wonder why we couldn’t look like the church in the book of Acts. What was different about the people in the upper room when the Holy Spirit came to them? I prayed that our hearts would be open, that we would be waiting in expectation of Him. I want to be consumed by His fire. Then it began to happen. Levi stood up and spoke God’s heart to us. Many of us moved to the front. Many of us began to tell of the goodness of God. The stories build us up and bring glory to God. It’s encouraging to our hearts. As the stories unfolded the walls dividing us began to crack. I began to have hope that we can really belong to one another; that these are a people I can build with.
Open Door on August 7, 2011 (several people were missing)