looking through me

Tag: church


In all my church’s imperfection—and we are certainly imperfect—I’m reminded of something that’s true of every church: we are sinners only called saints by the grace of Jesus.

There’s a lot of pain sitting in the seats on a Sunday morning. There’s a lot of pain sitting in the office on a Tuesday morning. There are a lot of hurts in leaders and laity alike.

But we are also a body. Together. And within that body there is not only the pain of the individual members, but the pain we feel collectively. The pain we share because we are a living entity.

As I was praying for us as a body, a sentence popped into my mind: some hurts won’t be healed here.

Huh. Not the answer about our church health I wanted. But as I sat with that phrase—some hurts won’t be healed here—another one interrupted it: that doesn’t negate our purpose or God’s presence.

Some hurts won’t be healed here. That doesn’t negate our purpose or God’s presence.

Those are weighty words. And they aren’t my words. Not by a long shot. I sat in silence feeling the heft of them in my lap, and then I started searching for biblical context to support them . . . or maybe even disprove them because, let’s be honest, I wasn’t jazzed about the idea that we’re going to live with chronic pain.

And while God does not hit me upside the head with a two-by-four or speak to me in an audible voice, He has a way of making His points. So He proceeded with the progression of simplicity from sentence to fragment to single words. Two of them.

Paul. Thorn.

Ooohhhhhhh. I realize Paul was one person. He wrote about a personal affliction to a church—a body of believers—so the context is different from mine as a member of a body praying for us as a collective entity. I understand this is not a one-to-one correspondence. I do.


Maybe these words are for this body, for us, too.

“‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

Some hurts won’t be healed here.
That doesn’t negate our purpose or God’s presence.

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cloud of witnesses

My eyes drifted east to the clouds piled in a heap on top of the mountains. Giant tentacles stretched out of it, thick offshoots snaking westward across the sky.

Directly beneath it the sun began to rise. A fiery flush of coral washed over the gray. Second by second the warm blush swept down the cloudy arms. The morning sky came alive.

Its brilliance infiltrated my prayer for our church, “Would You make us like that cloud—reflecting the Son’s glory—taking people’s breath away and drawing them to You? . . . Could we be like that? Could we be a cloud of witnesses?”

Oh! Is that what a cloud of witnesses looks like? I’d always pictured a solitary, massive column, an overwhelming thunderhead. I’d projected an ominous edge to the cloud—I don’t know why—but this . . . this was glorious. The incomparably richer reality before me reshaped the image in my mind.

By the time I pulled into my parking spot at work the cloud had faded to standard gray against an average morning sky. The radiance was gone, but the impression—the vision—remained.

The cloud is just a cloud, but the cloud in communion with the sun is breathtaking.

The church is just a bunch of people, but the church in communion with the Son is altogether holy. Lit by His magnificence, reflecting it outward, we become a living mystery—His constant canvas, His cloud of witnesses—drawing the eyes of others beyond ourselves to Him.

We do it imperfectly. Our glow fades, our unity wavers, our focus falters, our cloud drifts, and yet His mercies are new every morning.

Our mission is clear. Our Hope is here. Our Son is risen.


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