“And he died for all, so that those who live might live no longer for themselves, but for him who died and was raised for them.” 2 Corinthians 5: 15
Last week I had the opportunity to catch up with an old friend. As has been custom we took time to find out where life’s journey has taken us, what challenges there have been, and what gifts have shown up along the way. During the conversation, I talked about how hard it has been to find a consistent community given the nature of my recent years of interim work. Despite the fact that I have continuously served this presbytery I also have lived in five different communities in the twelve years of Cascades ministry. I shared with my friend how hard it had been to get the life that I wanted with all the moving around.
My friend thought for a moment and then went to her phone to find a quote from Victor Frankl, the author of Man’s Search for Meaning. She found it and said, “You might find this helpful, Brian.” Frankl, when speaking of those who somehow managed to survive the concentration camps in Germany, wrote, “It did not really matter what we expected from life, but what life expected from us.”
At the time I was on the Oregon Coast visiting churches and the next day was a light enough workday that I could walk along the coastline and ponder the crashing of waves and the hypnotic rhythm of the ocean. I thought a lot about Frankl’s quote and the balance between what we want from life and what life requires from us. I thought about this week’s lectionary and this reminder that Christ died so that we “might live no longer for ourselves, but for him who died…” I thought about the nature of call and setting aside personal ambition to serve bigger and deeper purposes.
As I thought about these things my lens changed. I was less frustrated by what I haven’t gotten in my life and more content with the life that God has placed before me.
My thoughts turned to our churches as I mused over how this lesson might apply not only to me personally, but to the churches I serve in our presbytery. I thought,
- “If we are to live for Christ rather than for ourselves how might the lens of our lives change?” Will we focus less on what we want from the church and more on what God wants from us? Will we worry less about how the church is serving its members and ponder more about how the church is serving God.
- “What does God require of us in this unique time?”
- “If it is true that the real question is not ‘what we expect from life, but what life expects from us’ then what will be our contribution to God’s unfolding story?”
A handful of us are just about ready to fly off to St. Louis for the 223rd General Assembly of the PCUSA. May our motto be, “It’s not about how much the church can serve us, but how much we can serve God through the church.”
May the journey of radical trust continue!