The Struggle is Real: A Letter to West Franklin

The Struggle is Real: A Letter to West Franklin October 16, 2021
West Franklin Family,
He’s been a regular in my office recently. He’s struggling. In a good way, but it’s tough. After coming to the realization he had been lying to himself, to God, and everyone else – he recently trusted Christ for the first time. He, along with everybody around him, thought he was already a Christian. But he wasn’t. He’s been coming to my office with a passionate vigor to be sure.
As I do most folks struggling with assurance, I encouraged him to read 1st John. He took the challenge and, my oh my is it doing what I hoped it would. He’s struggling. Wrestling. Confronting reality head on. Being honest with himself, with me, and with God. It’s a struggle every Jesus follower has. It’s Paul’s struggle in Romans 7. It’s what happens when anyone actually pays attention to what John writes in his first of three epistles:
“If I am a Christian, why do I keep sinning?”
“When will I ever get over this propensity toward disobedience?”
“Why can’t I always do what I desire to do?”
“Why do I do things I hate doing?”
“How can I be positive if I am not one hundred percent sure I believe?”
“I believe. But why do I still struggle believing?”
What I hope this almost 50 year old man is beginning to see is that wrestling with these questions means that he is, in fact, a believer. Were there no struggle, were there no desire to be sure, were there no ardent wrestling between his soul and God, there would be no evidence of faith. When we move from darkness to light, the darkness is not happy. When you lift a rock and see all the ugly, sgwigly, nasty bugs underneath – they run for cover. They hate exposure. Struggling as a believer is a sure sign that light has come. The things we kept hidden are laid bare and desire to be covered up again. The struggle means that you’re real.
I am told Eugene Peterson was asked for one word he would use to describe the Christian life. His answer: “wilderness.” Wilderness? On the one hand, I do not like that. I don’t want to be a wanderer. I don’t want to always struggle. I want to be victorious. I want to win. I want to be a conqueror. I don’t want to spend my life wrestling. I would rather be free from that and enjoy ease. But on the other hand, Peterson’s answer is so freeing. It’s freeing because this is my story. This is my narrative. This is my day to day to day to day experience. In the wilderness, with God. If I’m reading the Bible correctly, this was Israel’s experience too. As a matter of fact, the word Israel literally means “struggle.” God named His own people strugglers. It’s who we are.
West Franklin, if you’re struggling – take heart. If you’re wrestling – take a deep breath. It’s a good sign you’re real. Come to think of it, Jesus said we would have trouble (struggle) in this world. The point, I think, is not whether or not we will struggle. The point is whether or not we consistently increase our awareness of the greatness of Jesus. In other words, this side of heaven we will always struggle in the wilderness. But as we do so, we will become more enamored with the sufficiency and beauty and sin-defeating Jesus. That’s the goal: He must increase in our hearts while we decrease.
The struggle is real, yes. But the struggle means you are, in fact, real.
Because He Never Leaves Nor Forsakes,
Pastor Matt
Things You Need to Know
  • We will begin worshipping in the fellowship hall on Sunday mornings starting Sunday, October 31, 2021. The services will remain at 9 and 10:30 am.
  • The last Sunday the fellowship hall will be used for groups is tomorrow, October 17th, 2021. Ask your leader for where your group will meet during renovations.
  • The plan for the remodel to officially begin is Monday, November 8th, 2021.
  • The scope of the renovations include the worship center, the fellowship hall, and the outside of the building.
  • We hope to give the pews to a church in Waverly, TN and/or another church in need of seating.
FALL FEST – October 29th, 2021 – 5:30-7:30 PM:
  • Food trucks, inflatables, games, trunks with treats, popcorn, snow cones, carnival games, etc.
  • Invite friends! (Seriously, this is a very “low hanging fruit” way to introduce people to our church and the Gospel.)
  • Bring candy!
  • Help us make this a fun and successful night! (Go here.)
  • Vision and Values – Now through October 24th, 2021.
  • Philippians 4 – October 31st – November 21st, 2021
  • Advent 2021 – November 28th – December 24th, 2021
  • 5 minutes a day.
  • Ask the Lord what He is calling you to next as part of West Franklin.
  • Listen for an answer.
  • Go here to watch/listen where this idea/thought came from.

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