We were trying something new and it was succeeding. People were coming to our church and getting involved for the first time in years. We had doubled our attendance, seen lives changed dramatically, but not everyone was happy with our congregation's success.
The conflict was wearing thin that morning. It had turned personal. No longer were the grumblings about songs, microphones and sound levels. Now people who had worked hard to build relevant ministries were being targeted with vicious demoralizing gossip. Complaining about the pastor is just part of the job, but nothing made my blood boil like hearing about a personal attack on one of the people who was putting their heart and soul into helping people. I had entertained the thought of leaving on a few occasions but dismissed it quickly, except this particular morning. Now the question was like a companion that wouldn’t shut up.
As I went about my day performing the routine tasks – print the bulletin, think of a catchy title for Sunday’s message – a thought occurred to me. “What if you chose this?” ‘Who would choose this nonsense?’ I replied incredulously. Then I mulled over the question.
What if God had pulled me aside before all this started, asked me to work hard to help people change their lives, but the process it would be difficult. I and my companions would be misunderstood, sometimes even maligned in the process? Would I have chosen to do this had I known this ahead of time?
I thought about Ally whose family was back together after months of separation. I thought of Nicki who was free of her addiction to drugs, and Michael who now played the guitar in the band after a life of loneliness and solitude.
Yes, I would have chosen this because it was meaningful and right.
I’ve long since left that small church, but the question has never left me. When I find myself on the receiving end of someone's displeasure who has used their emotions as an excuse to be unchristian and unkind, and the energy temporarily wanes, I ask myself, “what if I chose this?” If I see a reason that I would have chosen this path, I stay with the renewed strength to carry on. If not, then I know the next adventure awaits.
Would you have chosen to be where you are right now? Not every circumstance, but are you seeing enough good to make the challenges worth it?
Would you have chosen the life you’re leading if it was stretched out before you, beginning to end, ahead of time?
If so, be encouraged. If not, what are you going to do about it?