If any of you out there are my fellow Christians, then you know a thing or two about God's timing. I find that my own personal experiences with this is the best way to explain to someone (specifically non-believers) why I believe. No one can deny personal examples of how God has worked in your life. They might not choose to believe it for themselves, but they can't tell you that your experiences aren't real. So every time I feel like a blatant "God Thing" has happened in my life, I try to journal about it or store it somewhere in my brain to pull out when I want to share my own version of the good news.
One of these examples came to me over the weekend. A month or so ago, I put "Searching for Sunday" by Rachel Held Evans on hold at my local library. Since it's a fairly new book and she is pretty popular among the Christians, it took weeks for it to get to my name on the list. It just so happens I got my turn to read it when my pastor made the official announcement that my church is closing.
The book's tagline is "loving, leaving, and finding the church". I knew it was about Rachel's experience of leaving her church and trying to find a new one, but I didn't know that there would be a big chunk about how she and a few friends started their own church... and how it failed after just one year. (Side note: my pastor and I have had many conversations about how we will not consider the closing of our church a "failure", but that's the word Rachel chooses to use in her book.) While reading about her experience and struggling through my own feelings about the place where I've lead worship, felt community, and attended for five years, I found myself comforted by her thoughts on the subject. Particularly this part:
"Even our unsuccessful church plant managed to produce some fruit of the Spirit along the way. We baptized, broke bread, preached the word, and confessed our sins. We created a sanctuary where people told the truth without fear. We worked through our differences with care and grace and we learned, perhaps the hard way, the church isn't static. It's not a building, or a denomination, or a nonprofit organization. Church is a moment in time when the kingdom of God draws near, when a meal, a story, a song, an apology, and even a failure is made holy by the presence of Jesus among us and within us."
The things she lists are so true for me and my church, and that's how I know that our little church plant was never a failure. We will all take something away from it that we learned and that helped us grow. And where God's timing comes in is how I could have bought the book months ago, or gotten it from the library a few weeks ago, but reading it then would not have been as important to me as it is right now. In the midst of having to face my church shutting down and struggling with what to do next, both as an attendee of church and a worship leader, I needed to hear Rachel's words right in this moment. Not weeks or months ago, but now. I believe that God knew it, and I believe in His timing as a testimony to share.
If you would like to watch the video announcement my pastor made about our closing, it's available here.