What God is teaching me...
I’m learning that the best moments are often juxtaposed by the worst.
Our family adopted a precious little spark plug named Alexandria. God knew when she would come to us and us to her. He knew that the last season of vocational ministry would be more taxing than any of the previous twenty. He knew that as pressure, stress and disappointment waited with baited breath outside of our “home,” our family would lean in closer to one another rather than implode. He knew I’d see a deeper level of beauty in my bride during this season. We haven’t had it worse than most and some of the struggle was self induced, but for us, the weight nearly fractured our pure hearted ability to Pastor a local church in this part of the world. That didn’t last long though. I’m learning, the past season of pruning, which my priceless spiritual advisors remind me “may never be over in this life,” has produced unprecedented fruits in our community of faith, and I hope, in me as well.
He knew the gift of friendship and support – like the seasons – would wilt and fall before yielding Springtime crops. I’m learning, although I have been surprised in the last year, possibly more than any before it, God wasn’t surprised for a moment. Life is a wine press. It’s a grinding stone. It’s a wood plainer. It’s a fire. I’m a grape. I’m a stone. I’m an unruly board of wood.
I’m learning, this is the only way true character is revealed and made–through fire.
God brought a rare, humility-saturated, voice into my world over the season of pruning who taught me the grinding, the plaining and the fire is present not because I’m trash, it’s calling out the treasure in me–calling out the gold. Thanks friend, your friendship and partnership in the gospel outside the walls (of church) have restored purity and meaning to life inside the walls (of the church). I’m learning God knew just what I would need; I’m learning He wasn’t surprised, I was.
I’m learning there has always been, at most, two kingdoms–light or dark. The kingdom of fear, revenge, deceit, self preservation, self promotion, the false reality of social media, self pity and the like are, and always have been, part of the dark-side–never descriptions of Abba’s house. I’ve dwelt in that kingdom–the dark-side. I never want to step on the doorstep of that world again–except for rescue missions carrying the asphyxiated out of the burning house.
I’m learning His grace is great. Grace sustained me in this long wintery season. I’m learning grace is one of His gifts and it is great but He alone is greater than any of His gifts. I’m learning I want and need Him only, everything else is His goodness to me.
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,a whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. James 1:2-4
-By Chris Armfield, Lead Pastor of CITYLIGHTS