Parking Lots and Platforms
This is not about doing. This is not about checklists. This is not a pastor at your church saying you need to be doing or preparing for one more thing in the midst of your already crowded life. This is an encouragement about the way we view the world and our community in the context of God’s church. If any of us turn this into a rule to be followed, its limitations will outweigh its benefits in great number.
The parking lots and empty platforms of our campuses have always been holy places for me. They mark the work yet to be done by the Spirit of God as the people of God approach our Father through His Son. I am so fortunate to lead a life that I absolutely love. Like any life though, there are lawns to be mowed, conflicts to be managed, and impending teenage years to be worried about. On Sunday mornings, I get up early and drive to 25th and Cactus, 64th and Dynamite, Miller and Shea, or Fountain Hills and Glenbrook Blvd and the parking lot marks the release of my vantage point in favor of the work that God is up to. As I walk up to our wonderful buildings, I let go of yard clippings and fatherly concerns and I ask the question, Lord, what do You want to accomplish today? I’ll be honest and say that if He’s ever audibly responded to me, I fear I’m still too distracted to notice.
My intention in asking this question is to reorient my thoughts from the places they may have been, with the temporal and the pressing, to where they need to be—on the eternal. To take my mind off myself and to put it on the work and people of God. This habit has taken many years to put into practice, but it has brought such a freshness to my experience in the gathering of the people of God. Each Sunday is an opportunity to meet people and hear their stories—to worship and to learn—to pray and to encourage. God is up to something and when I just ask myself what that is, all of the sudden, He begins to illuminate the answers.
Each Sunday is an opportunity to meet people and hear their stories—to worship and to learn—to pray and to encourage.
Then I walk out onto the platform—stages scuffed with the footprints of worshippers passionately drawn to the work done when God’s people are collected—and ask again, Lord, what do You want to accomplish today? I’m often drawn to thoughts of my team—scattered across this Valley walking you all through the story of the Gospel. I think of the people I’ve prayed with over the last week and wonder where the Lord met them these last seven days in the middle of their trials. I think of our wonderful congregation—nuanced and individual, yet united in Christ—singing songs and praying and experiencing life and ministry together. I’m drawn to that eternal story of redemption that God has put on full display in the lives of the people in His beloved church. We are a tapestry of stories and brokenness and restoration that can only be seen when we have eyes that look beyond our here and now and out toward the horizons where God is moving.
Let me be clear, I am a broken sinner who gets things wrong precisely as often as you do. There are plenty of places where I need to be asking myself more about the purposes and work of God but fail to do so in favor of my selfishness, comfort, or forgetfulness. That said, I wonder…I wonder what would happen in the communities that surround our campuses—or any church in the Valley for that matter—if people would mark the occasion of walking up to church and sitting down in their seats by asking the question, Lord, what do You want to accomplish today? No assumptions, no agendas—just a simple acknowledgment that He is here and He is moving. What dormant root might finally catch hold and give way to a mighty oak? What relationship might be saved? What addiction might finally be admitted to and addressed? What lonely and desperate brother or sister might experience a profound and supernatural love for the first time?
I wonder what would happen…if people would mark the occasion of walking up to church and sitting down in their seats by asking the question, Lord, what do You want to accomplish today?
As we consider the Lord and His work, I’m praying for you, His beloved son or daughter. I pray that He would work in our lives and spirits so that we might be more mindful of Him each day. That we would be free of the bonds of guilt and shame and that SBC might be a place of refuge and healing—of hope and redemption—of Word, worship, and community. God bless you as He brings thousands of fresh answers to the question, Lord, what do You want to accomplish today?