VCBC Time Variants
– Brian Lee
I don’t know about you, but there has always been times where I would think what it would be like if things have unfolded differently in my life: how would it be like if I picked a different decision in career path, if I held onto a particular relationship, or make a decision to take risks in certain key events in life. The same is also true when I contemplate about church life: what would it be like if the conflicts we experienced were different, were resolved differently, or if we made different decisions on how we navigated the pandemic. As we think about these different what if’s and the possible variants (or hypothetical parallel universes) that could arise, we sometimes hold a pessimistic “the grass is greener on the other side view.”
“We would have been just like church XZY if we decided to move and build in this new location”
“We could have built a vibrant young adult ministry if we follow through with running X”
“We probably would have a stronger leadership and pastoral team if ABC didn’t happen”
In the same time, we are in the business of believing that what is happening in our timeline is one of the best, if not the best possible outcomes overall. (at least in the grand scheme of God’s providence) Otherwise, this Triune God would not appear to be “good” like we posits him to always be. And if we hold this as true, whether you believe that both good and bad things happen or are left to happen for a theological reason (which we will leave for another theological discussion), we know that God is continually present and is guiding us to a positive direction in midst of the highs and lows in our lives, both individually and collectively. The famous and often misquoted passage from Jeremiah says that:
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”– Jeremiah 29:11
In here, Jeremiah’s retelling of God’s prophecy is not saying all faucets of the Israelites” lives are going to prosper, but in the context of coming out of the captivity in Babylon. (Especially not everything in our wish list like getting a dream job/spouse or hiring that perfect lead pastor for our congregation) He promised prosperity in the sense of restoring Israel as a community of God radiating his blessing if they repent and hold true to their obedience and reliance on him.
Our goal is not about fixing and eliminating these hypothetical “deviant thoughts” in us. They are always helpful for us to reflect and learn from our past choices and mistakes. Rather, these thoughts are not edifying and would only weigh us down if they do not motivate us to transform for the better in our relational and spiritual well being. As God ,through Jeremiah, continued, “You will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.” To do that requires us to cultivate a level of faith in God and a level of accountability with one another. May we continue to learn and grow together, to the point even these fruits of the Spirit of infinite goodness, compassion, and love will seem like common things in all corners of our community that we can pull out from our drawers.