This weekend the church in Austin had a community outing on a reoccurring theme, vital groups. This being my first community outing, I was unsure how much I would be able to relate to other couples who had been in the church 40+ years. I was shocked that the message matched my experience exactly.
At the beginning of the outing we were told we needed to “drain the lake”. This refers to getting past just having surface level interactions and relationships. If I never go past the surface and go to the bottom of my being, I might seem to be doing ok. This is very easy to do and has been my experience for years. It can be difficult to “drain the lake” because there are all kinds of crazy things lurking at the bottom as this recent article talks about.
That said, my experience while I was in Austin was outwardly awesome. I was out on “the lake” boating, wakeboarding, jet skiing, windsurfing, parasailing and soaring. I was so busy meeting with so many students during the day and going to so many homes in the evening I didn’t have time to consider what was lurking at the bottom of “the lake”.
The point is that in a bigger “lake” or a bigger church life it is harder to lay out on the table what I’m really going through. What finally drained me was moving to a smaller city and serving on a smaller campus with a smaller team. The three most stressful things in life are moving, changing jobs, and getting married. I was going through all three at once and was very drained and dry and everyone could tell. In a larger setting, I could have easily got lost and “drowned” and nobody would have known.
I didn’t have the “go to” guys that had helped me in the past. I prayed desperately for a companion and got one. The Lord gave me a brother who helped me “vent” and uncover all kinds of debris. Instead of condemning me for everything that “popped” up, he prayed with me and opened up what he was going through as well.
This outing helped me to receive mercy and find grace for timely help. All week leading up to the outing, I had been musing on Matthew 18 which we read in small groups at the outing. What had exposed me prior to the outing was being the slave that was forgiven 10,000 talents (150,000 years wage) then beat and choked someone that owed me 100 denarii. I was very humbled and exposed and repented and needed a way to move on.
What encouraged me was seeing that the only mention of a church meeting in the gospels was related to failures, which we all are. Praise the Lord! The Lord loves failures and he gathers us together to pray for and visit other failures. This is how I got built up so much with this other brother. This is how the church is built.