All three of our children wake up differently. Maybe you can recall how your children woke up when they were little and maybe my story will bring back a few memories.
Emmaline loves to sleep and still naps on the weekends, so often we will have to scoop her up and snuggle her on the couch in the mornings before she fully wakes up to start the day. Charlie, however, is ready to take on the world, every day and promptly flings his door wide-open and announces loudly, “Good morning!” And add to that that he’s usually the first one up. Ellie, we haven’t quite figured out yet because she loves waking up at all times in the night for comfort and feeding. Compared to even just 8 years ago, our wake-up routine is much different these days.
On Sunday, Pastor Leah led us through John’s letter to the church in Sardis and she shared her own story about a church that was awake to God’s Spirit and welcomed a young, unaccompanied youth into their midst and it ended up setting her on a trajectory of answering her call into the ministry years later. And we are thankful for those churches that are wake and alert to the work of God in their midst. I don’t know about you, but I want to be a church like that, one that is ALIVE and AWAKE and ALERT. But sometimes, I am sure, we can remember seasons in a church or faith community when we circled the wagons and acted out of fear, not out of faith. Times when we woke up and feared what hadn’t happened over what God might be up to in our midst.
I had a parenting moment like this just this last weekend, when fear almost overcame faith. It is the kind of moment that all parents of school-aged kids have nightmares about and it happened to me. This weekend was full and in the midst of celebrating the end of another busy week and Emmaline’s third lost tooth, I went to bed early to get ready for the INUA race on Saturday morning. Ellie and I were up much earlier on Saturday than the rest of the family and right before we headed out the door, I heard this bloodcurdling scream from Emmaline’s room. I ran in, fully, expecting her to be hurt, or ready to throw up, and then with tears streaming down her face, she cried, “THE TOOTH FAIRY DIDN’T COME!” (Bring on the Parent Guilt!) We had forgotten, of course, in the busyness of the night before to help the tooth fairy deliver on her word. In a split second, I thought I may have ruined my oldest daughter’s childhood forever! I know, I may be a bit dramatic, but these things really do matter to a 7-year old! Dear Jesus, take the wheel…
I don’t know if it was the Holy Spirit, or parenting instinct or just that my coffee had finally kicked in, but I thought up a story, and thought it up quick and with Ryan’s help, the magic tooth fairy money appeared, and all was right with the world. Now go with me on this, aren’t we sometimes like a 7-year old, full of disappointment and fear? Overcome by our childish expectations of how we think this journey of faith should play out? Don’t we sometimes think first of the impossible, rather than what is only possible through faith?
My point, in connecting both the excellent sermon on Sunday and the parenting lesson from the morning before is asking myself, when it comes to being the church, how will I choose to wake up? Will I act in fear over what hasn’t happened rather than in faith about what CAN happen? Because I think you know which one I would choose and I hope you will join me. Because I want to be a part of a church that is waking up every day ready to face the brokenness of the world not with fear, but in faith. Knowing that God will always show up, will always deliver on God’s word and is a God that is constantly showing up and surprising us. I want to be a part of a movement that greets the day’s challenges with hope and a deep love for the one that gives us the gift of each day to begin with. I don’t want to be so wrapped up in my plans, that I can’t appreciate when the “tooth-fairy” doesn’t show up in the way I expect her too. And finally, I want to be open to rethinking how God will deliver on God’s promises. Not always how I expect, or plan, but God is faithful to the end. May we be a church, may we be a people who choose faith over fear because are feet are firmly planted in God’s faithfulness.