by David Dahl
I’m fascinated by all the places in the Bible that leave us to wonder what happened next.
- How did the formerly demon-possessed man live after Jesus removed his demons and he moved out of the cemetery, and returned to his family and his town?
- How did Lazarus live once Jesus restored him to life?
- What was Zacchaeus’s life like after he became a follower of Jesus and, against the advice of his friends and started giving back money to those he’d robbed? What happened to his business?
- What happened after the woman at the well confessed Jesus as the Messiah? What did her live-in boyfriend think? What happened next?
We know that something happened next, because Jesus changes people. They become disciples.
That is why we are making our way through The Story of the Bible. There are joys and sorrows, challenges and the answers to those challenges, betrayal and forgiveness, facing evil and celebrating good. God’s Upper Story purpose is to save the human race. And His strength accompanies all who embrace their part in His purpose.
When you enter the church building, you’ll discover a tree. That tree is a joint work of several people that demonstrates our longstanding rootedness in God’s Story and in the “what next” of God’s purpose. This tree is made up of a slab of redwood that is estimated to be 1,200 to 2,000 years old. The metalwork demonstrates a variety of textures and cloudlike shapes that illustrate the amazing variety of the branches of God’s people. If you look closely, you’ll find the face of Jesus embedded in the trunk as well. Beside it is a Bible passage from Paul’s letter to the Ephesians – which is also so appropriate to us.
I’ve bolded the excerpt on our wall and have included the full context of what Paul wrote:
“For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth takes its name. 16 I pray that, according to the riches of his glory, he may grant that you may be strengthen in your inner being with power through his Spirit, 17 and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, as you are being rooted and grounded in love. 18 I pray that you may have the power to comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.” (Ephesians 3:14b-19)
Note all the references to growth in his words: “Rooted and grounded”, “to comprehend”, “to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge”, “be filled with all the fullness of God.” These words describe the constant change that happens in those who follow Christ.
So, “What’s next?” It is rewarding to see so many of you digging into The Story. It’s rewarding to see teachers involved in teaching our kids and adults leading small groups and circles and people joining in our Thursday prayer gathering. And together, we face the “what next” of leadership transitions.
This leads to an open invitation to the “what next” of our neighbor: When you go about doing the things that God has given you to do, bring someone with you. When you come to worship, when you’re working, helping, teaching, quilting, cooking, praying, bring someone with you. You have no idea what doors a little connection might open. You and they will grow in ways not possible by any other activity. And you’ll have the amazing experience of seeing others grow as well.
Remember, God’s Upper Story purpose is to save the human race. He’s given you a part in it. This church is rooted in it. So, “what next?” I can’t wait.
Keep and Live the Faith!
-Pr. David G. Dahl
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