In the beginning there was a difference: I believed in God and the bible because I didn’t have any reason not to.
The Grace window was open wide and I jumped through it and found that it was really easy to quit smoking and walk away from many other bad habits I had picked up during my late teens and early twenties.
In the beginning it was easy to hear the Holy Spirit speak because there wasn’t much of anything else happening. Becoming a Christian was a major life-style change—it was all or nothing and the “all” seemed to go on forever.
It was easy to be the odd man out because the apostle Paul was that way—not to mention Moses, Noah, Samson, Jacob and John the Baptist. I was in good company—surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses who were rooting me on in my journey from Egypt to the Promised Land.
In the beginning it was easy to eat from the Tree of Life rather than from The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil—even though my penchant for wanting to understand everything was never fully put out to pasture.
In the beginning it was easy to spot the Pharisees—that is until I became one myself. I am surprised at how easy it was to let form take over function—to let the organization supplant the organism and to eventually get to a point of disarray and disillusionment about it all.
In the beginning the only limits were the ones that we put on ourselves—speaking to the mountains in our lives and seeing them removed was something we were constantly working towards.
In the beginning we learned that God is the same yesterday, today and forever—therefore divine healing was for today and hadn’t passed away. We prayed with fervor for those in wheel chairs and for those with cancer and waited for the miracles to happen. When they didn’t—or at least in the way we thought they should—our faith began to take on a little water and the boat didn’t wander out in the open water as much as when we were new.
In the beginning we met for church three of four times a week and wondered about those that didn’t. We invited “sinners to dinner” and really thought that the whole world could be fixed in just a matter of a few years. We gave out lightbulbs and gospel tracts and visited those living in trailer parks and housing developments. We sowed much and harvested little and wondered why.
In the beginning, people would invite us over for dinner and more good stuff took place in kitchens and living rooms than in the official sanctuary—it was very “Organic” even before we were aware that what we were doing was “early” church stuff. Homegroups were the glue that kept everything together for us and for the church—we were all on similar rides and took time to listen to each others journey and then pray accordingly. Not every prayer was answered but we were looking forward to a day when they would be—it was that hope that was like an anchor to our souls. We hadn’t arrived but knew that one day, if we kept walking, we would be closer than when we started.
In the beginning, the men in the church would be asked every so often to raise their hands if they felt called to leadership. What would follow, if you raised your hand, was a series of Saturday meetings where the principles of leadership and basic bible stuff would be presented in hand-out form. Discussions would follow and after several weeks, we would feel further along than we had before the meetings began. Then the meetings would fade and things would go back to normal until several months later, those who felt called to leadership would be asked to raise their hands and the process would begin all over. After a while, it was only the new people who would raise their hands, as the older and “wiser” brethren would know that in the overall sceme of things, this was the way things worked and no “real” progress would ever be made. The boat would be launched, take a test sail around the bay and return to the dock in very short order.
After all these beginnings (there are many more I could have added—but you get the point), I guess we began to look in other areas for reality, since the church didn’t seem to want to live there. That’s no excuse, but the way I remember it was and has been, over and over again, all these many years.
I don’t remember when I partially checked out but it’s been a while since I have experienced the joy that Jesus felt which enabled Him to endure the cross and despise its shame—the joy that I know exists within the true fellowship that the body of Christ can be and has been and maybe is somewhere—even at this very moment.
I am told that the glory of the latter house will be greater than that of the former house—that he will restore what the canker worm has eaten—what the devil has stolen.
After the laundry comes out of the washing machine, I am going to hang my clothes on this line and wait for them to dry. All the stains may not have come out in the wash, but there is still a lot of wear left in them.