How much must God love us to let us go through this together? That’s the question I keep asking myself after the fire last night at Heartland.
I don’t say that to minimize the importance of church buildings, or places in general. I’m actually extremely sentimental about places. God placed our souls in a body, and then placed those bodies in a location. So locations are a part of the goodness of God to us. And one of the most important locations, or places, in my life is 1620 19th Street, Central City, Nebraska—Heartland EFC. In that place, my three children have given me hugs in my office at 8:45 every Sunday morning for the past 9 ½-years. In that place, I have prayed with a handful of people as they found new life in Jesus. In that place, I have developed a love for writing. In that place, I have worked for almost ten years with friends and people I consider faith-warriors. And in that place, I have watched God heal marriages, kick addictions, and stop suicides.
So when I say that watching our church building spit flames out the windows made me sense the love of God, it’s not a trite, or flippant, comment. It’s a comment that flows out of the past 24-hours, and watching people from across the state pray for and help us, and from seeing people in our community stir one another up by this chance to have courageous trust in God. And it’s a comment that comes from knowing that, in order to walk the deeper paths of faith together as a community, life must get hard. Comfortable things must be disrupted. And, occasionally, a few of our favorite places must burn. For it’s in these hot moments, we see the reckless, raging love of God.
I’m excited to experience this love of God with you, Heartland.
“Christianity teaches that, contra fatalism, suffering is overwhelming; contra Buddhism, suffering is real; contra karma, suffering is often unfair; but contra secularism, suffering is meaningful. There is a purpose to it, and if faced rightly, it can drive us like a nail deep into the love of God and into more stability and spiritual power than you can imagine.” (Timothy Keller, Walking With God Through Pain and Suffering)