James 1:2-4 (NIV) Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, 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.
On August 24, 2014, Spirit Life Fellowship will celebrate its 20th Anniversary. The theme of the celebration is "We're Still Here." That may sound a little odd, or maybe even a little dull, to someone who is not familiar with our church and its 20 year journey. We're still here big deal, you might say. A lot of places are still here. Even some of our newer members may not really get it. But those of us who have been with the church for a majority of those 20 years understand the significance of that statement.
If you knew some of the trials and difficulties we have encountered along the way, you would know that "We're Still Here" is a testimony to what God has done for us. Many times people outside the church said that we would never make it and that we would have to close our doors. I'm sure each of us at some time also wondered if we would be able to survive. It was especially hard to watch people leave during the hard times. Despite how the circumstances looked, God had a plan for us. We are still here and we surely know that with God, all things are possible. Not only are we still here, but we have grown. The Lord has sent new members and He has called former members to return! We have been blessed and strengthened. Our house is surely built upon the Rock.
As we move forward, the next question we have to ask ourselves is "Where is here?" Twenty years after the Israelites fled Eygpt, they were "still here", but "here" was the desert wilderness. Keep in mind that they were only halfway through that experience! I wonder about where we are after 20 years. Are we still wandering the desert, trying to reach the Promised Land? The Lord has sent many people to us with the same prophecy about what our church will do and become, but we are not there yet. It seems like much of the last 20 years has been about surviving, and now it is time for something more. With the growth and great things happening in the last several years, it seems that we are positioned for the transition from surviving to thriving. Casting Crowns has a song called "Thrive". Part of the lyrics say, "We know we were made for so much more than ordinary lives, It's time for us to more than just survive, We were made to thrive".
Galatians 6:9 (NKJV) And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.
"We're Still Here" is our testimony for today, but it cannot continue to be our only testimony. It is time for us as a church, and as individuals, to do more than just survive. God wants so much more for us. What will it take for us to thrive? It will take every member of the body functioning in their gifts and callings. We all have to know who we are in Christ and believe in His promises for us. We have to put our trust in Him and truly believe that all things are possible. We all must have the same vision and come into agreement as a body. We have to be one congregation, in one mind, and in one accord. We have to yield to the Spirit and allow God to lead us into that Promised Land without any doubt or fear. We must seek God and His righteousness first, and then He will add all things to us.
I am tired of just surviving, as a church and in my personal life, as well. I am tired of being tired. It is time for a refreshing and it is time to do a new thing and sing a new song. What I want for all of us is what Casting Crowns sing at the end of their song: "Joy Unspeakable, Faith Unsinkable, Love Unstoppable, Anything is possible". I am glad that "We're Still Here", but now I am excited to see what happens when we get "there", wherever that place is that God is taking us.