We all have questions about God that we wrestle with. One of my big questions is How active is God? This comes up a lot in conversations I am having, one way or another. Questions of Does God answer prayer, Do you think there is one person God has selected for you to marry, Do you think that God opened this door for you, are all questions about the level of activity that God has in his world.
For a long time I didn’t think that God was active. I felt that he built the earth and the cosmos, gave it a nudge in the right direction, left a manual behind and let the rest take care of itself. I liked that because my life was essentially up to me. I had a couple reference points but largely I was calling the shots and at the end of eternity I was judged on how well I called the shots.
More and more though I am beginning to struggle with a passive God like that. Mostly because of how several things are working in my life right now. I will leave you with a good story.
When I came to Harding, I wanted to work in church. I wanted to be a small town youth minister in a situation similar to the one I had come to faith in. But a series of events had discouraged me completely from working in church at all, and really made me question whether or not I could even live honestly in any congregational setting.
In the fall of 2006, on a whim, I jumped on iTunes and downloaded the first church podcast I came across and it was Mark Driscoll’s “Church Planting in Corinth” and it totally rocked my world. For the first time it was suggested to me that I might take the gospel somewhere else to a people more like me and build that church. So church planting became a real focus of mine while I was in college.
That hope began to dwindle over time though as my debt climbed and I realized just how hard it would be to finance all of this. I was going to have to get a real job, eventually the dream of church planting began to fizzle a bit. I moved to Fayetteville and found a job that I was really happy with. I was making good money and would have been happy staying there forever.
In February I lost that job as a result of spreading myself too thin and just burning out. Directionless and penniless I took an ill-advised road trip to Nashville for my birthday. I met up with some friends and had a good weekend. While I was there I ended up having morning coffee alone in a coffee shop called the Frothy Monkey. I had just picked up a book by Mark Driscoll at the Lipscomb book store and was reading through it at my table. Out of nowhere a guy speaks up and says, “Hey that’s a good book.”
The voice belongs to Brandon, one of the guys working on a successful church plant in Nashville called Ethos. Brandon and I talk for the better part of an hour about church planting, doing that kind of work in a place like Nashville. After we part ways we kept the conversation going via email.
Since then my mind and my desire have been back to church planting. I have spent a lot of time in prayer, conversation and study and am still sure that this is what I want to do. I narrowed my list down to three cities that I would want to work in: Nashville, Detroit, San Francisco and sent feelers around to friends in those areas.
A couple weeks later I am a church planting intern with Kensington Church in Detroit, MI. I will be leaving August 1st to go.
I struggle with a passive God because of so many things in this narrative. Of all the podcasts out there I found that one, when the initial desire of my heart became clouded I lost my job and got put back here, of all the coffee shops I went to that one, of all the people to sit at a table next to me it was Brandon, and even though I didn’t apply for church planting jobs in Detroit that is exactly the job I ended up with.
It is difficult to imagine that this many good things happened by chance.
I am still working though what an active God means. We do realize that if God is active, that means certain things. I am working through that, more thoughts to come I am sure.