Catfish, Corduroy, and Conflict

catfish

You know sometimes I feel like our culture is changing faster than I can keep up. Sometimes it feels like our church is changing faster than I can keep up.  I have attended a lot of meetings in which someone is concerned or frustrated about a proposal or a decision. I think this is pretty common in church life. The danger is when we begin to feel like our voice isn’t being heard, or that someone doesn’t like us.  I think when someone does something I don’t like, it’s easy for me to think that they don’t like me.  I’m learning this is rarely the case. We just all have our own opinions. So are church disagreements and frustrations always a bad thing?

A number of years back the codfish industry on the northeast coast of the US had a problem. They were trying to deliver the fish cross country still tasting fresh.  When they froze the fish they lost too much flavor. When they transported them live in tanks filled with saltwater the fish got soft and mushy.

Finally they found a solution. They placed catfish in the tanks. Catfish are a natural enemy of codfish, so the catfish would chase them around the tanks all the time they were being transported. The cod now arrived in better condition than ever.

Relating this story, Chuck Swindoll points out that we all need catfish in our lives – the difficult disagreements and frustrating situations that may taste bitter, but keep us healthy and growing.

For those of us actively supporting and participating in the building of His church, we may rarely get our preferences.  Remember Peter, on whom Jesus said He would build His church?  In John 21 Jesus tells Peter, “When you were young you dressed yourself and went where you wanted to go, but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you [maybe even in corduroy!] and lead you where you do not want to go… And if I want John to remain alive until I return, what’s that to you? You just follow me.”

In Acts 8 a great persecution broke out against the church and everyone was scattered.  Saul was destroying the church and putting them in prison. Then we read in verse 4 that those who had been scattered were preaching the gospel everywhere they went. And these cities were filled with joy.

So if disagreements have you down, or you’re frustrated by your circumstances, or hurt by changes, be encouraged.  Even in the difficulties, God is at work, primarily using us to advance the gospel of Jesus Christ.  But also to present us, the Bride of Christ, to Himself alive and strong and fresh, in better condition than ever!

Waiting On Dad

 

michigan-state-watch-mensgold

As a young child I remember being afraid of going to kids church.  I would beg my dad not to make me go.  He would kneel down and put his right arm around me and show me his analog Michigan State watch. He’d say “see the second hand, when it goes around to right here is when I’ll be back to pick you up.” I would often wonder, what if he forgets, maybe he’s not coming back.  As a child my sense of security was in my dad and mom.

While on vacation I would often drive my dad nuts in the morning asking, “What are we doing today? What’s the plan?!” He would usually respond with, “I’m reading the newspaper, find something to do. Ok, sometimes he said, “Go play in the street!” If I didn’t know the plan, I felt insecure.

Recently I have done the same to God, asking “when are you coming, what’s the plan?” You get the idea. And I felt like He said, “Hang on a minute Jay, I’m holding hell at bay so you’re not crushed, and when I’m done, we’ll discuss what’s next.” Finding security in our Heavenly Father and His plan requires us to wait, watching the second hand of God’s watch while He deals with the newspaper of spiritual affairs.

In Daniel 10:13, Daniel is told the delay in the answer to his prayer is because God was dealing with the enemy. Daniel’s told, Do not be afraid, because you have humbled yourself and desired to gain understanding, though delayed 21 days, I have come to help you understand what’s next.

If you’re waiting on God in uncomfortable circumstances, “to those with an anxious heart, take courage, fear not, behold your God will come!” (Is 35:4) He makes all things beautiful in its time Eccl. 3:11.

When my wife was growing up, they would often sing a song at supper time when they were waiting on dad.  “Where is daddy, I don’t know. He was supposed to be here, 5 minutes ago!”

“Do not fear for I am with you, do not anxiously look about you for I am your God. Is 41:10