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When we show up, will God show up?

This week I did something that felt unusual. For the first time in 45 days I went out of the house to my office. Now before you cry foul, it was merely to grab a few things, finish this piece, and run a few quick errands before heading to my dental appointment. And I wore a mask. And I was alone. But it felt strange to return to the place where normally I spend lots of time.

While heading over I reflected upon Pastor Eric’s encouragement from this week. He pointed us to one pastor’s picture of the day, hopefully in the near future, when God’s people are able to meet again face to face in sanctuaries. This past week I have been hearing two somewhat conflicting things from pastors and leaders about what “re-entry” might look like for churches. Some are saying that their members are much appreciative of various virtual church arrangements. However these same members cannot wait to be together physically. They realize that something important is  missing… each week the feeling gets stronger.

On the other hand, some pastors and leaders are hearing that when things “open up” in their particular region they anticipate only a small percentage of their worshiping bodies will be attending. And that may be the reality for quite a while. Time will tell if either of these responses becomes the true reaction of worshippers.

But more important than whether or not pastors will be preaching to packed sanctuaries and maybe needing multiple services, or preaching to half empty rooms for months  and months, the bigger issue that the writer of the article raised was this: When we gather together again, will God choose to show up? Will He pour out His blessing upon His gathered people because their hearts have been in the place of true repentance and deep abiding trust? Will God be pleased that we have been a faithful bride who trusted in him through a difficult season? Or have we been a murmuring, complaining, unfaithful bride, responding to the situation just like the unbelieving world around us?

It is so easy to think about what things will be like when we get back to normal. I am not sure that is what is on God’s heart. I believe that God is thinking about how we are doing TODAY. Simple graces like love, care, compassion, patience, humility, wisdom, joy, peace… the Holy Spirit’s desire every single day is to build these graces into our character. Our growth in grace, i.e. sanctification, is a long process. Evaluating our growth is just like the evaluation of the pandemic curve. It is pretty scary to look at it day by day due to the many ebbs and flows. But much more important is the trend, the trajectory. Over time is there progress? Here is the bottom line question: Am I a more godly person now than the last time we were physically together?

Saints, I am convinced that the Holy Spirit is using this unique season in my life to help me see my sinful, selfish heart more clearly, discerning the idols of my heart more clearly. And He wants me, and all of us, to get a deeper sense of his forgiving grace and enabling power so that we might be the salt and light that this world needs. So the issue isn’t how many people will show up. The issue is are we trusting Him, walking in repentance, living lives such that God will delight to show up?

Pastor Stan