Since I've never personally met my pastor, Todd Wagner, I didn't expect him to call me out in the middle of the service. It was pretty awkward. He walked up on stage, pointed at me and said, “This is for you, Emily.” He went on to list my home address and shine a spotlight on my chair. Just for the sake of clarity.
Now that might be hyperbolic, or a flat-out lie, but that’s certainly what it felt like.
In John 16:18, Jesus told his disciples that in a little while they wouldn't see him. Then in a little while they would see him again. The result of that statement: a disciple huddle. Heads together with eyes gazing down at dusty feet in leather sandals. "Um, did I miss something guys? What's he talking about? I don't get it." I would have joined that huddle. I might have initiated that huddle.
Since Jesus’ hearing was pretty fantastic, or maybe because He knows everything about everything, He knew their question. He clarified that their future would involve weeping, mourning and grief.
And eventually, after a little while, they would have a joy that could not be taken away.
My painfully positive hubby likes to say that "no matter how bad things get, it can only last a lifetime." Then he laughs. But I don't think that's funny. For me, a little while is like 3 minutes. 7 minutes if I REALLY concentrate. Jesus' definition of a little while seems off. He has been gone a loooong time.
So, I worry. About the future of our country. For my children. About my health. For our finances. About why I can't stop eating inappropriate amounts of Costco pretzel rolls.
That’s when my pastor started in on me. He said, “Worry is believing God won’t get it right.”
That’s a little harsh, don’t you think? Sometimes I'm afraid. And bitter. My life hasn't always been good. You weren't there...
He continued. “Bitterness is believing God got it wrong.”
Ouch. Back off. I’m not trying to say THAT. Life is hard. I’m not always joyful but it’s not that I don’t want to be.
He wouldn't stop though. “Joylessness is believing God has been wrong all along.”
Dearest Pastor, you’re ticking me off. I would never say those things.
I would love to be mad at Todd Wagner but it's not his fault. I know the Source of this conviction. When I'm worried, bitter, joyless, I am proclaiming to the watching world:
“God hasn’t gotten it right in the past, He probably won’t get my current issues solved correctly and I'm confident the future is full of God's failures just waiting to happen.”
I would NEVER say that with my mouth. How dare I say it with my life?
Another thing my husband likes to remind me: "God makes informed decisions." A beautiful understatement. The Creator is more informed than the rest of us -even if we form a huddle and brainstorm.
Consequently, it would greatly behoove us to trust Him. Joyfully. After all, He is the only one who really knows what's even going on.
And He'll be back in just a little while.