A few years back, Minneapolis churches had one of those awful years when there were seven different snowstorms that happened directly on Sunday or the night before. Church cancellation strategies became a devastating weekly conversation. Not surprisingly, the snow almost killed our church financially because online giving hadn’t started yet. And most of our members were both new to the Lord as well as emotional givers – if they missed a week, they certainly wouldn’t make up for it the next week. And when we had to spend tens of thousands each week on portable facilities (even if we never used them), a snow day could easily equal a layoff. But it was the spiritual implications that bothered me most.
Cancelling church is like closing a hospital; we’re cancelling people’s emergency surgery. We’re stopping a thousand doctor appointments from happening – it equals death, pain, and prolonged confusion. When you see the stats every week of how many ppl make decisions to follow Christ each weekend, it’ll make you think twice before cancelling a church event. So when I saw the weather report last Saturday that we were in for a record-setting snowstorm (in April no less), I just groaned: “Why God!? Not THIS weekend.”
Part of my dismay was because this last weekend was supposed to be the big launch of our electronic-dance-music outreach, Substance Variant. Two months back, a simple Sunday promo vaulted our music video (for the song “Hanging”) to nearly 50,000 views. So, we were hoping this Sunday would do the same for Variant.
To make matters worse, I was scheduled to fly out to Birmingham AL – unveiling Variant to around 4000 pastors. Yet, with all the cancelled flights, I wasn’t even sure if the team and I would make it – which would be a total disaster.
So, once again I thought: “God! Why can’t the snow come on Monday – when everyone would LOVE it? …well, kind-of love it.”
And as I share this, I’m sure you’ve had similar days. You expected to take giant steps closer to your dreams; yet, with every hour, your life seemed to be sliding backwards into a snowstorm of discouragement. And in moments like those, it sometimes becomes hard to believe that God is truly watching out for us.
Quite simply: Faith is like a leaky fuel tank. It constantly needs refilling. And if your soul isn’t regularly exposed to God’s Word, it’s just hard to think straight. And especially so in busy seasons! The input of God’s word must always be greater than the output of our demands. When we don’t have a consistent lifestyle of church attendance, devotions and connect groups, (rituals designed to increase our awareness of God’s Word), we simply don’t have enough spiritual input to match the output. And that was me last Saturday as I was getting hundreds of crisis texts about the snow.
So after getting into a dumb fight with my wife I finally realized, it’s time for a reset. I went upstarts, grabbed my Bible, and opened up to Psalm 105:19 which says,
‘Until the time came to fulfill Joseph’s dreams, the Lord tested his character.”
The Good News is this: Just like Joseph, there IS a moment when God plans on fulfilling our dreams.
The Not-So-Encouraging News is this: God’s timeline might be different than yours. And none of that is going to happen until we weather a few tests – most of which are related to our input/ouput issues.
As I laid on my bed staring at the ceiling, I kept rolling the verse over and over in my heart. And every time I repeated it, it was as if my spirit was converting my head knowledge into heart knowledge. Meditation is what causes truth to convert into spiritual fuel. And I can’t say that I was magically transformed into a new man. After all, I knew that the coming days would be tough. However, I chilled out enough to where I knew: God’s got my back.
Sure, cancelling church is a disaster. Sure, my entire Variant release might be botched. Sure, my flight to Birmingham might turn into a 3-day fiasco. And yet, I just knew in my heart, God is working a plan. And if I could just take a breath, God would remind me how brilliant he is. And that he did.
Instead of church services at our campuses, we pushed out a last-minute Facebook live service – we asked our members to log-on at 10am and I’d preach a short message. When all was said and done, just shy of 14,000 people logged on to be a part of it! That’s crazy! Especially when we announced it only hours earlier. We’ve never had a single sermon crest that mark in a day. And now, it’s already jumped by another 5000! Even more, people were extremely generous with online giving. And our salvation-text-line was buzzing like crazy.
As if this wasn’t enough, Substance Variant climbed all the way up to number 8 on the mainstream iTunes Electronic charts. And despite record-long-lines and cancellations at our airport, we managed to get to Alabama this week after all.
But what does this mean for YOU, and your current struggles?
Well, God knows better than us! He knew that thousands more people would happily log-on for a novelty service than would’ve actually shown up at our campuses that Sunday. In the end, his plan to push out Variant was better than mine.
Quite often, when we ask God for things, we add way too many constraints and conditions. And God is thinking: “Loved Ones! If only you’d simply go with the flow, I’ll turn things around in a way that’s better than you would ever imagine.” You see, if we can simply surrender to God and stay full of faith, faithfulness (aka., faith-filled-ness) will naturally flow.
Christians never have to strive for faithfulness. We simply strive for faith, and faithfulness naturally flows. As Jesus put it: “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent” (John 6:29).
And how do we do this? Simply pray, “not my will but yours be done.” And allow meditation to fill your heart with spiritual fuel. Because, remember: There is a perfect time for your dreams (Psalm 105:19). And soon, the winter of your life, will give way to a spiritual Spring.