In my last post I talked about what we do in the aftermath of our earthquakes. In this post I want to talk about how to deal with the “aftershocks.”
What do I do after the earthquake?
How do I deal with what I’m going through?
Earthquakes have some interesting characteristics:
1. universality (It affects everybody in the geographical area, in our case everyone in our church family.)
2. spontaneity (It cannot be foreseen, we talked about that last week.)
3. irreversibility (it has forever touched us and our community. This is now part of our life experience as a church family.)
Most earthquake damage comes in the aftershocks- falling glass, bricks from chimneys, falling walls….Every earthquake has aftershocks. They are the results of the earthquake, and affect the area of the earthquake for weeks, and even months. Those in an earthquake may be affected for years to follow.
All of us remember “earthquakes” in our lives- Where we were when we experienced them or heard about them. And the aftershocks from our earthquakes have become part of our lives-
The aftershocks of losing a child, a divorce, a parent’s death, an unwanted move. Each of these earthquakes have aftershocks that affect us.
What are the aftershocks we have seen and heard from our earthquake?
-in some, initial shock that has turned to anger (very common)
-feelings of betrayal
-leaving the church- “this was the last straw!”
-loss of faith, or a struggle of faith
-reopening of scars from things that have happened in our own lives (bringing up bad memories in our own lives)
-desire to run away
-desire to blame someone, anyone!!
-worry about how leadership will deal with everything
-concern for our fallen pastor and his wife
-regret, I wish I would have…
-uncertainty about a new senior pastor
-there might be another earthquake
-there’s no place safe
-there’s no place to hide
-future, what will happen?
-tired! Expressions of exhaustion are common. This IS tiring! (I have heard that a lot!)
We each will deal with our feelings, and our aftershocks. All of these kinds of feelings are normal, they are real, and they are important. Our challenge is to deal with them in a Godly way.
Let me suggest some choices for each of us-
I have chosen these from the writings of an earthquake maker, Paul. Paul, before faith, was an earthquake maker. He created earthquakes. Saul of Tarsus, went into homes, arresting Christians, forcing them to recant and even killing some, and now, as Paul he comes back into the lives of those people and gives us direction to deal with our aftershocks. The very lives he tried to destroy, and in many cases did. There may have been women, listening to Paul’s teaching, knowing he was the one who made them a widow. There surely were survivors of his torture, now under his ministry.
There is no one better than Paul to tell us how to deal with earthquake aftershocks than a man who created earthquakes in the lives of others.
First, here is how the earthquake maker dealt with his own earthquake making days- Phil. 3:13-14, (also Heb. 12:1-2- heading for the finish line.) Here are the choices Paul made. (These are the choices we need to make as well.)
Paul’s choices- (observations on Phil. 3:13-14)
1. to stay in the race
2. to not let those who quit the race discourage him
3. to keep his eyes on Christ
4. deal with sin and the past properly
I would like to take a quick look at a few of Paul’s instructions for us “earthquake survivors”-
Paul uses, what I call, “exhortations and invitations” to teach. (Exhortation followed by an invitation- LET…)
1. Romans 6:11-12- In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. (2 Cor. 7:1- Since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God.)
Exhortation- Christ has taken care of sin
Invitation- don’t let sin reign in your life
2. Romans 13:10-12-Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law. And do this, understanding the present time. The hour has come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. (1 Thessalonians 5:8- But since we belong to the day, let us be self-controlled, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet.) (Note also Eph 6-put on the full armor of God.)
Exhortation- The days demand an action
Invitation- Get dressed! (He’s provided the clothes!)
3. Romans 14:16-19- Do not allow what you consider good to be spoken of as evil. For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and approved by men. Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.
Exhortation- There are ways to please God
Invitation- Do them
4. Galatians 5:25- Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. (Read this whole chapter)
Exhortation- We live by the Spirit
Invitation- Walk with Him (he will walk at your pace.)
5. Gal 6:7-10- Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.
Exhortation- You are planting crops that bear fruit
Invitation- plant good crops
6. Col. 3:12-16- Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. (Note also Phil. 4:6-7)
Exhortation- You are God’s people
Invitation- Use His resources for your walk
7. Col. 4:5-6- Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.
Exhortation- You are God’s representatives
Invitation- talk like one, people are listening
We all know that these days at our church are hard days, but as you have heard from many in these weeks…
This is God’s church, And you are God’s children.
In the days ahead the aftershocks will die down, and we will continue to grow together, pray together, and reach our world together.
Paul, the earthquake maker, has provided us with the exhortations and the invitations.
Take a moment, take your fears and aftershocks to the Lord, and let Him take care of them. He will, he has promised to do it….he will.