by Jim Killam | 5-minute read
Periodically on the blog, we talk with a pastor to go deeper into the subject of a particular sermon. This week, in a two-part interview, we talk with Josh Pardee, Pastor of Congregational Life, about Part 3 of Love Walked Among Us. Here’s the second half of our conversation.
So, we’ve talked about some misguided thinking on all this. What are some right ways to think and process as we experience fear, uncertainty, suffering? What’s a way we can focus ourselves that doesn’t take us to these judgmental places?
One, understand that Jesus sits with us in that pain and suffering. He’s fully present to that. Two, know that he ultimately has victory in the long scheme of things, whether that happens in my physical life or on the other side of resurrection. He already has defeated sickness and this virus and even death itself. Then beyond that, this is where I think local community is so key. Because I sit with my brothers and sisters and I try to discern: God, where are you at work in this and what are you inviting me into?
And it’s so personalized. He might just be inviting me to have a more holistic picture of the church, or to have a better understanding of what suffering looks like for people of different eras. He may be inviting me to engage with my neighbors in ways that I’ve never been able to because I’ve always been running a rat race. What is the good work that he wants to bring about? What is the fruit that he wants to grow in me during this season? And so that requires me to be in a posture of submission, of open-handedness. It requires me to have other people who speak into these things as well. So as I’m hearing and discerning, I’m also submitting them to other people. Asking, “Hey, do you see this about me?”
Also, I think everything that is happening now, for those who are in lockdown, is a great revealer of what is already true of our lives. Some people are overwhelmed because they don’t know how to connect with their spouse right now. Well guess what? This is just a revealer of what has already been growing in their marriage for the past 10 years. Or some people are overwhelmed as to how to teach their kids school — and I’m not trying to make light of any of these things — or even in a church context of, how do I teach my kid about God? Well, that’s just a reality that you’ve been living, and you aren’t currently equipped for it.
Someone was asking me how my family and I are doing. I mean, life has changed and it’s not rosy or perfect or anything. But honestly, we’ve had a really great time. I’ve had great times of being with Brandy. I’ve had great times of being with my kids. Sometimes things get a little short or tense because we only see the five of us every day. But in general, we’ve been having great times of worship together, great times of talking about the Lord, of prayer, going on walks.
I think the reason is, these are things that we have been building into our life and rhythm. Some of them got a little off and it’s time for us to reset them. But with the issues that are being brought up, the upheaval, you’re seeing the roots of the reality of things that have now been growing for years.
So what do we do about that? I think we pay attention to what the fruit is in our lives. If my connection with my wife is really good, then that probably means I’ve had a solid base and, and I want to keep moving in that direction. I want to keep setting up patterns and rhythms that lead me to that. If I’m finding that I have no connection with my kids and I just do not want to be around them, that’s probably bringing up some agitation, some stuff that I need to evaluate and work on.
There are rhythms of time — planting and growing and harvesting. Right now it feels like we’re entering this post-harvest, dead period. And so what we’re experiencing now is literally the fruit that we’ve been growing for the past months or years, depending on what the issue is.
Maybe you could look at it as fat cows and skinny cows. We’ve had years of plenty, years to build things. And now, what we’ve built over the last few years becomes critical to keeping our world well. Or if it’s not there, we recognize it right away. I’ve gotta think that through better before I chisel it on a wall somewhere. But it seems like there’s a parallel.
And even in that scenario with Joseph and Pharaoh, it wasn’t God’s judgment on the land of Egypt. It was just like, “Hey, this is what’s happening. Prepare yourself. Let’s think about the fruit you’re growing right now, how you’re going to be able to handle and weather these things.”
That’s the good work that he wants to bring through all of us. So, I don’t subscribe to the idea that God is making people suffer and die. But God, through a time when people are suffering and dying, is still sovereign. He can still bring about good things in your life and in my life. He wants to grow us. Where is he working? What is agitating me? What is going well? How do I see God in these situations? Those are the questions I want to be asking.
On Sunday, May 3, Lead Pastor Luke Uran looks further into the story of Jesus healing the blind man. Join us online for part 4 of Love Walked Among Us. Also, if you missed the first half of this discussion, read part 1 here.