As we walk into a new year, I pray that you feel as free as a fresh, unmarked calendar page. I pray that your relationships are healthy, authentic and satisfying. I pray that your connection to God is strong and your faith-based optimism is high. That's what the mountain top feels like, and every so often, it all comes together at the same time.
But perhaps you are heading into 2016 feeling down in the valley. Looking around, you see countless examples of what could be and what should be. The change needed may be related to your personal life. Or perhaps you are feeling a burden beyond that. Do you wrestle with the what should be of your church, your community, your culture, your country?
What is it that frustrates you so deeply that you inwardly leap off the couch when you see it on TV, thinking, “Somebody has got to do something about this?” What gets you in the gut? What fuels your passion? What situation can make you so mad you could just cry?
There's a lot out there that is wrong. Brokenness, injustice, moral decline, serious lack of balance that's destroying our families, churches struggling to remain relevant and obedient, and people increasingly isolated and disengaged. We all encounter this myriad of problems differently, and some things bother one person more than another. That's how God designed us. If we were all equally passionate about the same thing, there'd be a whole lot of good that would never get done.
The thing that is tearing me up inside currently…no, if I'm honest, it's been a lot longer than just recently…is the state of our beloved Church. I see so much goodness, an enormous amount of richness, and the healing and restoration that she offers. And I see apathy, a reluctance to do things differently, self-righteousness, and voices that are so strident and certain they are right that those who need to hear the truth are completely turned off. I get just desperate for the sleeping giant of the Catholic Church to wake up - to not settle for surviving, but to thrive and blaze new trails of renewal and salvation and hope. I sometimes think I just can't take it if I encounter one more Catholic who hasn't had the opportunity to hear the gospel of grace in a way that he or she understands.
It's at this point that my husband sits me down and reminds me that it's not my job to save the Catholic Church. In that spirit, he gave me a hilarious birthday card this year. The front of it said, “Once upon a time, a very special person was born who was destined to change the world.” Although it seemed to be overstating it rather a lot, I was quite touched by the sentiment. Then I opened it and read, “Calm down. It's not you. It's Jesus. I think he'd want you to have a happy birthday, though.”
And my husband's right. Fixing all that's broken inside and outside the Catholic Church is ultimately God's job. Total restoration comes from Him, not us. But we are invited to cooperate in the process. So where do we begin? We find the answer in 2 Chronicles 7:14.
If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”
There's a lot we can learn from this verse. When God spoke to His children about the need for forgiveness and healing of their land, He wasn't focusing on what the outsiders were doing wrong. He didn't start by saying, “Get out there and tell those sinners to get their act together and get in line.” He began with in-house family talk. His first words were addressed to the ones called by His name.
The very first thing He said we needed was humility. This means we start with ourselves. We pray and seek His face, because it's only when our eyes are on Him that we can see how far off the mark we are. We compare ourselves to others and we can look pretty good. We look in His eyes, and realize that we could be loving and obeying at a whole other level.
He then asks us to turn from our wicked ways. I'll be honest, as I wrestled through this verse, I started looking for a translation that had a little softer way of delivering the message. Wicked is such a strong word. It seemed a little gentler to talk about trying hard but sometimes falling a little bit short. And then it occurred to me. This is the problem. I look at my own sin and justify that it really isn't that bad. Then I look at others, and want God to call a spade a spade and make them change. And I don't think I'm alone in this. Collectively, this behavior does not do us any favors. In fact, it gives the Church a reputation of being hypocritical and judgmental.
But here's the hope. The ball is in our court. There is nothing stopping us from humbling ourselves, praying, seeking God's face, and turning from our wicked ways. No amount of social decline can prevent us from doing what God asks us to do. What did God promise if His people did this? Forgiveness and a healing of their land.
Is this what you want to see? Do you long for a new season of revival, healing and restoration in our Church? We begin with humility and we begin with prayer. To this end, I would like you to join me in seeking God's face from our knees.
Call for Revival 2016 is an opportunity to join together in prayer, asking God to bring revival and healing to our church. On January 29th at 9:30 AM, I am inviting you to a Rosary Conference Call for the intentions addressed in this post. I'll be leading the call and the prayers, and really hope you will lend your voice and your heart as we humbly seek God.
Conference Call #: 641-715-3580
Access code #: 978-013
All are welcome on the line. Together, our prayers can make a difference.