“Put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.”
(Ephesians 6:13, NIV; emphasis added)
You might realize it, but we’re approaching a new beginning. It’s not the beginning of a new calendar year. It’s not the beginning of a new church year. It’s not even the beginning of a new pastorate (I guess I’m about 4 months late for that). But it is the beginning of a new school year, and—as someone who spent 13 years ministering in academic environments—it is the start of the school year that always creates in my heart the sense of excitement that comes with doing new things and launching new ministries that allow us to follow God’s call faithfully.
Now in my opinion, it seems like some new beginnings would be particularly helpful at the start of this school year. On the national stage, we need a new approach to dealing with our country’s pressing challenges. Closer to home, our local Baptist association could use a new way of addressing differences that arise as churches minister together (please see my next post). And right here at Calvary Baptist, I’d love to see us move forward with new efforts to find a youth minister…to expand our outreach…and to step up the adoption of a team-based approach to ministry (which started before I became the pastor) so that we can communicate more effectively and respond more readily to changing dynamics and circumstances.
However, even as I acknowledge my desire to get busy and do something about these and other matters, I have to admit that “doing something” isn’t always the best thing…especially in the midst of new beginnings. It’s easy to give into an over-inflated sense of urgency—the notion that if we don’t “act now” we’ll fall behind the curve and lose any chance of getting caught up. But scripture reminds us that before we rush to act – we must discern how God is acting. Jesus told us, “Apart from me, you can do nothing” (John 15:5). And as the passage from Ephesians that starts this reflection makes clear: We do need to put on the full armor of God; but before we go charging into battle, our primary task is to stand.
How can we “stand” as God’s people in a way that will allow us to discern more—not only “more” of what God wants us to do…but also “more” of how much He loves us and “more” of how much He’s already given us? The best answer, I think, is to “pray and wait upon the Lord.” That’s why—by the time we print our next newsletter—you should start to hear about some “prayer cottages” that will soon take place with this goal in mind. These “in-home” gatherings will allow members of Calvary to pray together and to listen for the Spirit’s promptings. If you’re able, I hope that you’ll participate. But even if you can’t or choose not to, you can still join with me and others as we ask God to make clear the things that He desires for us and from us as a church family.
I have little doubt that the days ahead will be full of activity as we resume our Wednesday night ministry schedule, settle into a new school year, and look forward to the joyful commotion that a new church year and a fast-approaching holiday season will bring. But for now, let’s not feel compelled to act. Let’s think…and pray…and wait. Don’t just do something…stand there.