Monday, August 01, 2005

Clearing The Land

Before we built our small church, we owned - bought and paid for - a beautiful piece of land. It was purchased by members who had left the church before Amy and I came along. They left but the land remained.

The land was always my dream and it was instrumental in my choosing to leave the church we had been attending and in joining Covenant. I was never completely happy in our old church, but I think people should find it immensely hard to walk away from their fellow believers. To this day I'm stunned at how easily people can commit themselves to God and a church and then simply decide to skip away citing vagaries or saying nothing at all.

We didn't skip away. I wrestled over the decision to leave that other church, even though I absolutely hated attending there. Even when Amy and the kids said they didn't like the church we were attending it took a great deal for me to go along with them and to "visit" someplace else...Covenant.

In addition to wonderful people including a solid preacher, there was an almost immediate and obvious sense that we were needed at Covenant. The one thing which our old church didn't -and never would - have was a true vision. At that point of my spiritual growth, that was the foremost thing I felt God calling me to find.

Covenant had a vision...Covenant had money...and very few members...but land nonetheless.

We ended up leaving our old church and joining Covenant and I knew it was good. Covenant was where God wanted us to be.

Some years passed but finally, through the wondrous ways God works we were able to build our first building. To do so required a lot of the land be cleared. Completely lacking the common sense God gave goats, and not having anyone in our small congregation with the slightest idea of the most expedient method of doing that job, we went after the rough South Texas brush and cacti with hatchets, clippers, chainsaws and machetes. It took teams of men and women weeks and weeks to clear the land, pull stumps, etc... There are still piles of brush on the back of the property that stand in memory to those days.

When we were done we were sunburned, bruised, scarred and beaten.

We stepped back and admired our labors with immense pride.

It seemed like only days later we had a real place of worship.

Years later, we built a Sunday school building and hired a guy with a "bobcat" to come out. He cleared almost the exact amount of land in an hour or three... and charged us a couple hundred bucks. God teaches us lessons in all sorts of ways.

Still doing it by hand the first time was worth it. Those days of hauling brush...working and wincing in pain as a team were invaluable in terms of investing sweat equity into our church.

In December of 1999 we held our first official service in the new building.

On January 9th 2000 the church body ordained me as a Deacon, a job I didn't want and to this day for which I feel unqualified.

This afternoon I called Gordon to let him know after five and a half years I had decided to "rotate off" the Deacon board. This was no great shock. I have not made any secret of the fact that I wanted to allow someone else to take my spot when our new Deacon elections are held this Fall. All I've done is pushed that timetable up and the remaining Deacons can hold down the fort without me at their much as I love meetings.

What's ironic is I will still do almost everything I've always done at Covenant if need be. Clean, organize the cleaning crews, welcome visitors, visit people who are sick, mow the property, etc...

However I don't feel I can devote the effort God deserves to some other duties, mainly ministering to families on the hours are too strange, I have some huge job opportunities possible which could change many things, and I don't want to put Lord's work on any lower rung of the ladder.

So now it's time for me to step back again - only an inch or two - and survey what God has done...with me.

Hopefully this will allow me see the way for the next season of my I can join God in clearing the land to get there.

Be Thou my vision, O Lord of my heart;
Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art.
Thou my best thought, by day or by night,
Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light.

Be Thou my Wisdom, Thou my true Word;
I ever with Thee, Thou with me, Lord;
Thou my great Father, I thy true son;
Thou in me dwelling, and I with Thee one.