Our morning services have been canceled due to a power outage. There are lots of weather-related outages across the city, and our provider is prioritizing emergency situations first. We hope to have power by the afternoon so we can hold an evening service, but we’ll see.
This incident is just the latest in a long parade of disruptions and distractions since God called us to Houston. A month of housesitting, ten months in a rental, Hurricane Harvey, a flooded building, fifty flooded families, a year worshiping offsite, a refinanced mortgage, along with all the growing pains that accompany church-wide change. Not to mention the intense personal struggles and thorny spiritual battles that only God fully understands.
We came here with a dream: to see God build a truth-preaching, neighbor-loving, gospel-rich, multi-ethnic church in the heart of Houston’s Energy Corridor where the nations of the world continue streaming in to live and work.
But for every vision, there’s a battle.
Two weeks ago a staff member filled the pulpit for Thanksgiving. Last week I had to pull out last-minute with voice problems. Now morning services are canceled this week, which means the series I’ve been trying to launch the past two Sunday’s will have to wait till January.
We recently finished Jesus’ beatitudes, and our next series is called “CounterCulture,” as we move into the rest of the Sermon on the Mount. The text I’ve been waiting to preach is Matthew 5:13–16: “You are the salt of the earth… you are the light of the world.”
A new member texted my wife tonight and said (a) she couldn’t wait to finally hear the sermon and (b) she’s praying for us because obviously there’s some serious opposition. Earlier, one of our elders laughed and apologized on the phone as he realized how crazy it’s been since we moved to Houston.
I distinctly remember some powerful experiences as God began showing us he was calling us to Houston two years ago. It was clear he was building his church, but it was also clear there would be serious challenges. Little did I know—and little do I still know—the potholes and headwinds and lacerations in store for us as we move forward as a church.
“For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12).
Satan is prowling around like a roaring lion (1 Peter 5:8). The god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving (2 Corinthians 4:4). The world is caught up in futility (Ephesians 4:17). And the church herself is often found disorganized, disheveled, and disgruntled rather than locked and loaded for the fight of our lives (1 Corinthians 1:10).
Every time God orients his church toward a pioneering future rather than a nostalgic past, opposition mounts. Every time leaders and members begin to dream and pray about what God might do, challenges rise. Every time the forces of light regather to storm the gates of darkness, clouds form.
For every vision, there’s a battle.
This morning we were going to light the candle of preparation for Advent, welcome 16 new members into the fold, and glory in our calling as the salt of the earth and the light of the world. Now we’re just waiting to see if we’ll be back online in time for an adjusted evening service.
But while there’s a power outage, there’s no power shortage. We are “strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might” (Ephesians 6:10). The whole armor of God is ours (Ephesians 6:13), and the schemes of the devil are no secret (2 Corinthians 2:11) before the burning light of God’s Word.
The Lord Jesus Christ will build his church, the nations will come streaming in, Mount Zion will be filled with worshipers, and heaven will join earth once again. These are the ancient promises that cannot be overturned, and this is our hope, whatever comes.
For every vision, there’s a battle. But for every battle, there’s a vision.