“Well shoot, this has been harder than I thought.” Some people call it Church Planting, but many pastors and leaders I have talked to that have gone through the process, would more affectionately dub it as the “whirlwind.” It’s the wild journey you go through on the way to fulfilling that beautiful dream that God has so wonderfully sowed deep inside your heart. It’s the building of a web site, opening bank accounts, buying equipment, constantly asking for money, dealing with school administrations, etc.… you know all the fun stuff. The truth is, it’s a lot to think about and at some point in the journey it is inevitable to feel tired, weary, and discouraged. The whirlwind of the ten thousand little things you need to think on and execute in planting can truly take your breath away. And it will continue to take your breath away until the moment you remember, “How did I get here and why did I do this?”
For many of us who have planted, we can think back on the days when we were at our previous job, in an office somewhere, day dreaming about the prospects of actually taking the plunge and starting this church. It was so beautiful in your head wasn’t it. We could see crowds coming every Sunday, our friends leading in new ways, people far from God meeting Jesus as we finally started the church “that we can invite our friends to.” I don’t know about you but I didn’t really dream about fundraising. I mean maybe it’s just me but I didn’t really dream about setting up and tearing down every Sunday, while figuring out where to store that 25 foot trailer every week (that I don’t even know how to pull myself). I didn’t long for the days to see my friends in ministry that I never thought would leave, leave. I didn’t think about the family members I knew would say yes to supporting us financially, say no. I never really considered that there would be members at our previous church that wouldn’t want to speak to us again because we left them. I mean I knew it would be hard, but I didn’t think I would have days where I would actually doubt what I was doing. What happened? The whirlwind happened.
At the end of Mark 4, Jesus has a great idea for the disciples, “Let’s get into the boat and cross over to the other side of the lake” (Mark 4:35). It seemed like they were about to embark on yet another exhilarating adventure with Jesus, except what was to come next was something they clearly weren’t ready for. The Bible says that as they set out on the lake, a fierce wind storm came and began to fill the boat with water. Oh and Jesus was asleep.“What’s happening?” The disciples must have thought. “I signed up to get to the other side of this lake to see Jesus perform more miracles, but I didn’t sign up for this! And Jesus is taking a nap! Does he care at all?” It must have been easy for the disciples to dream about what was to come on the other side of the lake with Jesus, but they were not ready for the whirlwind on the way.
It would be easy to think the devil threw the storm on the lake to stop Jesus and the disciples from getting to the other side. That’s probably true. But because Jesus is all-knowing, to think He did not know what He was leading his friends into would not be true. Jesus is using the storm to reveal something. You see what we discover in the story is that the whirlwind is necessary because it shows us, just like it did to the disciples, exactly where our faith is. It brings us to the end of ourselves and asks us, “Now what? Are you going to keep going or give up? Will you choose to let your doubt dominate your faith?” We need the whirlwind, because it is in the middle of it where we see, first hand, our faith crumble or solidify.
What’s interesting is what was awaiting the disciples on the other side of that lake. The well-known story of the “demoniac” is what Mark 5 brings us. It is the most detailed account of a demon-possessed man being set free in all of the Bible. But don’t you know what came before was also the most detailed story of both a wind storm and Jesus sleeping in all the Bible. What does that mean for us? Jesus is in our whirlwind. When we are worried, he is not worried at all. What’s on the other side of the whirlwind is the most significant ministry that God will do through you. And the journey there, it’s not punishment, but preparation. As leaders, we trust God, but the question is, can God trust you? You prove that to Him by how you act, respond, and believe in the midst of the whirlwind.
“Father thank you for the whirlwind. It wasn’t the most fun part of this journey, but it prepared me the most and reminded me of your steadfast love the most because you were right there the whole time. Thank you for being in every storm. You are always faithful, and because of that, I know there is no whirlwind that can keep me from where you are taking me.”
— Love your Son, Weston