What Do You Know Deep In Your Bones?

(When It Comes To God, Change, and Your Faith Community)

I’ve been with clergy and congregations lately who are staring into the eyes of major change. They recognize the way they have been church is less relevant than before, needing to shift as the winds of the Holy Spirit blow through their experience. They are a strange mix of excitement, enthusiasm, and invigoration while at the same time, experiencing disorientation, anxiety, and concern. It’s like they are about to launch out into the surf with great daring fueled by holy inspiration, while fighting with their desire to remain safe and comfortable on the beach. Decision points are right in front of them.

One such moment arose recently during a Shift Learning Experience. During the event, this pastor and staff, along with their lay leaders and various others from the congregation reached a tipping point, recognizing their need to let go of the past while taking hold of the future. As I watched, they looked like the proverbial deer in the headlights.

This is when we stopped, took a deep breath, and asked ourselves what our faith tells us. No, not what beliefs we carry around in our brains which never make it to where we actually live. Instead, we paused to consider what we know, deep in our bones, when it all hits the fan. When what we have known as familiar and comforting, shakes and shivers….what do we know then which sustains us? When the organizations, institutions, and cultural patterns of our lives are deforming, what then? When we turn our eyes to God in those moments, what do we know?

These are the moments when the chaff quickly burns away. When we face personal or faith community crises we discover what we know, our practical theology so to speak. Here’s what the aforementioned faith community and myself articulated that day. Here’s what we decided we know to be true, deep in our bones.

God provides what we need in order to do what God calls us to do.
No, not everything I want us to do. There are many endeavors on my list which may not reflect God’s movement among us. On the other hand, would God call us to do something without guiding us to find the resources? Would we ask our children to do something so far beyond them we know they will fail? When it comes to change, God provides everything we need to move through the changes which are congruent with God’s calling for us as individuals and faith communities. This includes capacity…sufficient time, money, talents, and any other resources. Our calling is to simply recognize these resources as they come along, moving ahead in faith.

We have no need to be afraid.

This is one of the Bible’s primary themes. Though politicians and leaders of all types choose the low road of maximizing fear in their choose-me-strategies, we Christ-followers are not afraid. When we know who we are and who’s we are, then we are not afraid. This plays out in two ways. First, we know the one who has ushered God’s people through change repeatedly through the centuries. God knows how to help us navigate change. Second, whatever happens will not destroy us, because we know who we are in Christ. So, we are not afraid.

These are two living truths that faith community embraced on that particular day. What about you? What do you know which sustains you when you wake up anxious in the middle of the night? What do you know deep in your bones? Perhaps it’s time for invigorated faith which empowers and equips us for these very moments right before us as people, disciples, and faith communities.

Mark Tidsworth
Pinnacle Leadership Associates