M-Note 10.8,2021

Do you believe that God can do miracles in your life?

This is a hard question for me. At a deep level, I want to believe this. I do believe it. But day-to-day, it is really hard to remain open to the idea that God can do the impossible.

I bet this is true for a lot of you. As time passes, it is harder to stay open to new possibilities. In life, the more experiences we stack up, the more we begin to think we know what to expect. After going through a routine for months, years, or decades you begin to think that you know what tomorrow is going to be like. If you have spent time hoping and praying for things that never come, it is easy to stop really expecting God to do something surprising. Someone once said to me, “I was an optimist when I was young, a realist in middle age, and a cynic the older I get”. This is sad, but it happens to us. We can stop believing that God can and will do miraculous things in our life or in our world.

Once, the disciples were with Jesus and they got concerned because they were out at sea with nothing more than a loaf of bread to eat. They were obviously worried that this would not be enough. Jesus told them not to worry about these things, but they did. And it seems reasonable. Except for this. They had seen Jesus do miracles. They knew, at least on some level, that Jesus could do more than they could see or imagine. And yet they had trouble acting like it. Jesus, seeing their doubt, says to them,

Don't you have eyes? Why can't you see? Don't you have ears? Why can't you hear? Don't you remember? 
(Mark 8.18)

Jesus is almost frustrated that after all this time together, they still were closed off to what Jesus could do. They thought they knew what was possible. They had lost a sense of openness about what Jesus could accomplish.

We get like that sometimes. Maybe you have been in the church a long time, so you come to believe that you have seen it or heard it all before. You are closed to the idea that God could surprise you today. Or maybe you have prayed a lot in the past and the prayers didn’t always come true. So now you are a bit closed off to the idea that prayer can really work. Or maybe you have been burned in the past by a church, and now you are closed to the notion that the next church could be a source of healing and hope. Maybe you are a lifelong Christian who no longer really believes that God has something new in store for you.

The antidote to all of these feelings is the discipline of being open. Remaining open each and every day to the possibility that God can still move in your life, that God can surprise you, that God may not be done with you yet. Open.

As a church that has been around for 15 years, it could be easy for us to think that our best days are behind us. It could be easy to settle in and just go through the motions. But we aren’t going to do that. As a church, I want The Gathering to be open to the possibility that the best chapters of our church’s story are the ones that God is about to write in the coming months and years. In two weeks, I will begin a new sermon series about the challenges and the possibilities that happen when we stay OPEN. I think it may be the most important conversation we have had all year, so I hope you will plan to be with me.

In the meantime, remember - God is not done with you yet. Today is full of possibilities. Stay open.

P.S. This weekend I will finish our series Jesus vs Christianity with a message about Jesus’ commitment to include, and the church’s tendency to exclude. If you know people that have been turned away or hurt by the church, this message is worth inviting them to. Don’t forget, all the past messages in the series can be accessed on The Gathering website or in our app.
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