by Julie A. Kanarr
After I broke my ankle, I spent time doing physical therapy to regain balance, flexibility and strength. Working with a physical therapist, I balanced on boards that tilted, stepped up onto rubber domes that wiggled, and stood on plastic pillows that wobbled.
Physical therapy involves practicing increasingly difficult exercises in a controlled environment to better equip one to meet the challenges of daily life in the real world. Is it easy? No, but it isn’t supposed to be. It is the presence of stressors that leads to greater strength and resiliency. It involves patience, practice and perseverance. Within any kind of challenge there is a gift. Without challenge, there is no growth or increased strength.
Life in the church is like balancing on uneven surfaces. That has always been true, even though there are some times when we are more aware of it than others. Changes happen; challenges arise; difficulties occur. New people bring different perspectives. New situations cause us to rethink cherished ideas.
From the earliest days of the church, believers have faced challenges. It is part of the fabric of life and faith. In the gospels, stories abound about the disciples in their struggles, betrayals, denials and failures to understand.
In Acts, stories abound about the members of the early church wrestling with questions of mission, ministry, vision, hospitality, inclusion and finances.
Some of Paul’s letters, including 1 Corinthians, are filled with advice to congregations about specific issues they faced. Not only were they balancing on uneven surfaces, they were also moving forward into uncharted territory. Yet wrapped up within these stories is the story of the God who remains faithful.
God calls us to deepened trust, to prayerful practice of faith and to holy conversation. We are called to be a grace-filled community of believers practicing our faith together, even as we balance on uneven surfaces. Let us welcome the challenge and receive it as a gift, because hidden within is the opportunity to stretch and grow.
The Rev. Julie A. Kanarr serves as pastor of Christ Lutheran Church, Belfair, Wash. In addition to writing, she enjoys a variety of outdoor pursuits, including bicycling, camping, sea kayaking, rowing, and sailing.