When God Doesn’t Let Me Do His Job

by Cassie Benson

I have a tendency to be a control freak. (I’ll give a pause here so my husband can take time to appreciate that I am admitting to that fact.) I like order. I like schedules. Spreadsheets make me happy. Overall I just like things to work according to my meticulously thought-out plans. As a CPA these personality traits can be great assets to my career. However, in my personal everyday, messy, crazy life they can be a huge stumbling block.

Three and a half years ago Brock and I were in the midst of a pretty unsettling time. His position in the ministry was in a complete state of upheaval and my precious grandmother suddenly passed away. To say we were in a season of sadness would be a gross understatement. In the midst of that season we decided that it would help to bring some joy back to our lives if we had another child. We knew we wanted more children and decided this was the perfect time as it would put my ideal 2.5 year age difference between Kandler and his next sibling. I had it all figured out. I began to tell God my plan and was certain it was exactly what He wanted for us.

Wrong.

Months began to roll by and all I got was negative pregnancy tests. I tried to give God the benefit of the doubt. Maybe He was trying to teach me patience. Surely He could teach me that in just a couple of months’ time and then He’d fulfill the plan like I had clearly laid it out for Him. Nine months passed by and we finally got the news we were hoping for – I was pregnant. We thanked God for being faithful (to fulfill the plan I wanted) and thought everything was falling back in order. Unfortunately, our season of sadness was about to come back harder than ever. Over the course of the next several weeks we were told the baby (or fetus as our doctor unfortunately kept describing it) was not developing as it should. There was no heartbeat. We begged and prayed for God to defy the doctor’s diagnosis and allow them to find a heartbeat but sadly they could not.

We were devastated. We cried together like no other time I can remember in our marriage. I wish I could say I continuously praised God through the midst of the storm but I would be lying. I was hurt and angry. Why would God not just follow the plan I had. It was a great plan.

Thankfully while God was teaching me an incredibly important lesson for my life He remained patient with me. He didn’t abandon me as I went back and forth (sometimes in the course of an hour) from saying I trusted Him to crying on the floor angry at Him because my prayer wasn’t answered. It was a constant struggle that I failed over and over yet He didn’t give up on me. He began to do a work in my heart to help teach me something I wouldn’t have learned through any other means but heartache:

God is good at His job.

Some of you may be thinking you learned that little truth long ago. For me and my stubborn heart it took a bit longer and is still something I have to remind myself of almost daily. So many times I want to think I can do God’s job better than He can. Of course I don’t say it so bluntly – I try to fulfill the perception of “have it all together Godly pastor’s wife” – but my actions and thoughts so often convey that I am out to take His job.

As I sit here now anxiously awaiting the arrival of the child God graciously has seen fit to bless us with despite my shortcomings I am reminded of this journey. I am beyond thankful and humbled that God showed me abundant mercy and patience. He allowed me to question His plan through countless tears and angry monologues directed at Him and as a good father He just held and sustained me through it all. He quietly reminded me: “I’ve got this. You were not created to handle my job. Let me be your Dad and you just follow me”.

Maybe you are in a place of questioning God’s plan. Maybe you have longed for a child and you feel God is withholding that blessing from you. You feel the anger and bitterness eat away at you anytime you see another happy pregnancy announcement on social media (I’ve been there). Maybe you have prayed for God to bring you a spouse and are wondering why He hasn’t provided that mate for you. Maybe you are praying for a job or career advancement and you just feel stuck in the same old place while others around you are basking in the glow of success and wealth. Let this be a gentle reminder…

God is good. God is faithful. God is good at his job.

Last Sunday in service we sang a song by Lauren Daigle that is such a great reminder of this truth:

When You don’t move the mountains I’m needing You to move

When You don’t part the waters I wish I could walk through

When You don’t give the answers as I cry out to You

I will trust, I will trust, I will trust in You!

Trust Him… He’s got this!

Let’s go to the movies!

Let’s go to the movies!

by Phil Baker

When the motion picture industry was still in its infancy, there weren’t many movie theaters to show their movies. So traveling exhibitors would set up in small town churches because they were dark, had substantial seating, and they had an organ that could provide the soundtrack for the still silent movies. This unlikely partnership is still evident with Revive church’s annual Movies by Moonlight.

When my wife and I lived in Pasadena, California, we attended a community movie night. Everyone came to the local park and spread their blankets or unfolded their camping chairs before a clamshell theater that, for this night, wore a stark-white sheet spread taut across its expanse. Everyone chatted as the sun went down and the soundtrack for that night’s feature played. We found ourselves talking with strangers as if we were old friends, petting their dogs, playing with their children. When it was finally dark enough, the event organizer made a few announcements, then prompted everyone to say “START THE MOVIE!” in unison. The park lights snapped off as if obeying our collective command and the movie started. We all cheered for the hero, booed at the villain everyone really did LOL (that means “laugh out loud” in case you forgot). Perhaps we’ve forgotten it’s ok to do this in a movie theater. Or maybe the THX sound system drowns it all out. But there was something about this shared experience that affected us. When the credits began to roll, applause rose from the park up into the starry sky. My wife and I lived fairly close to the park so we walked home, dissecting  the movie like we usually do, the whole way.

Movies by Moonlight was born out of that experience. Why couldn’t a church provide that feeling of community? Why couldn’t we invite others to our campus to share in an emotional journey? Why couldn’t we facilitate spiritual discussions on movies? And so I set to work. I contacted outdoor movie services in the area and got estimates. I drafted a sample flier that had bits of trivia and discussion questions. I put together a budget and a proposal and presented it to my pastor. The idea was approved and Movies by Moonlight premiered in 2013 with The Wizard of Oz! We were rained out our first night and forced to show the movie inside. (whaaa whaaa!) But, hey, Disneyland had glitches when it opened!

That was 4 years ago. Each year I fret over what movies to show. Being a movie buff, there are too many good ones to choose from. I look at which ones will be celebrating an anniversary, which ones tie into this summer’s current blockbusters, or which ones speak to current events. Then I work on the promotion materials and each movie’s flier. PluggedIn.com is a great resource, not only for movie reviews but also for a Christian perspective on their themes.

My hope for this ministry is for it to become a community event, not a church event. I want families to feel welcomed on our property for a non-threatening, non-confrontational night of common enjoyment. This is why I choose not to feature “Christian” movies. I believe the target audience for these films are mostly church-going believers. And while most mainstream movies won’t intentionally include Biblical themes, they can easily be found, or, at least, a lesson can be learned from its absence.

Since that first rainy trip to Oz, we’ve purchased our own outdoor movie equipment that has enabled us to take Movies by Moonlight off campus to neighborhoods, ballparks and hopefully other places in the future. I really pray that families that come to Movies by Moonlight might see something new in a movie they’ve seen dozens of times. That they might employ the discussion questions that night or maybe Saturday morning around the breakfast table. And that they might seek and find God reflected off our big inflatable screen!

Palindromes

Palindromes

by Phil Baker

I love palindromes – words or phrases that read the same backwards or forwards. Some examples are “kayak”, “race car” and “Was it a cat I saw?” I think that’s why I like calling members of Revive church a “Reviver”. And that’s why l like this week – the dates all this week make a numerical palindrome (6/12/16, 6/13/16, etc.).

What I believe attracts me to palindromes is symmetry. Society has evolved to prefer symmetry. Everything from design to decorating involves some level of symmetry. People who are considered to be attractive have especially symmetrical faces, while some who are deemed unattractive might have disproportionate features.

We like symmetry. We seem to be hardwired for it. Maybe this is why some people have a hard time grasping Jesus’ message. He was “God with us” yet he preferred the company of sinners. He was a king, yet he lived like a peasant. He said things like “the least shall be the greatest” and “love those who hate you.” This all seems out of wack! Why was he so misaligned with the rest of the world?

We have to remember that it isn’t Jesus who was misaligned. It is the world. Jesus came to re-align the world, to restore a right relationship with its creator. Do you ever feel out of alignment? Out of sync? Out of touch? Reverse your life. Turn around. That’s what the word “repent” means “to turn around”. Turn to God. Re-align your life with Him, not the world. It is only then you will find peace – peace about your past mistakes and peace about who now holds you future. Peace that is the same forwards and backwards!

BONUS PALINDROME: Swap God for a janitor; rot in a jar of dog paws.