Over the past few weeks a small group of us have met at Next Door to pray and discern the question, “as we are already engaged in Kingdom work, is the Lord calling us be a fuller expression of His church?” This question was formed as the first step in our discernment process, and while the wording of the question is open to some interpretation, it is essentially asking whether we should be more “church at Next Door” rather than an outreach of church.
In discerning the answer to this question, we were each assigned the personal homework of contemplating the question and judging our internal response to the question. Do we feel peace, righteousness and joy (see Romans 14:17) as we consider the question, or is there a lack of such things?
Last, night, two weeks after being assigned this homework, we shared our personal insights together. Interestingly, there were a number, myself included, who spoke about distraction. During this period when were to consider this question, we were distracted by self-doubt or, in my case, physical pain. Personally, my hope was that I would be rising early and spending time in prayer, however, I was distracted by a strained back, meaning my mornings were very painful, and the rest of my days were about tending to this physical pain. For three or four days, tending to my pain meant lying on the floor and resting. Perfect, you might think. On my back, hour after hour, I had the quiet opportunity to engage in prayer around the question. But no, instead, the distraction of my pain sapped me of my motivation. Rather than prayer and contemplation I listened to music and podcasts and read sports articles. During that time, there was frustration and a bit of self-pity, but not a lot of spiritual reflection and thoughtfulness.
Having come through the worst, I worry about my response to the distraction of pain. How I wish I could say that I used my down time to go deep with Christ, around the question that I was to ponder. But I didn’t. Looking back, I can say is how I admire even more those who turn their personal suffering into a deepened relationship and intimacy with Christ. It is not easy, and I don’t believe it is our first human response. Humbling.
So, I gave in to distraction. But I understand it. And knowing that others were distracted in their own ways, I feel embattled for the work of discernment. The enemy is at work among us, and is doing his best to keep us from listening prayer. Pain. Self-doubt. Well played, enemy, but we are onto you. We will continue to do our work, asking the question before us; thanks for the reminder that you care.