It is clear to me that our world is going through a challenging season right now. A global pandemic. Civil unrest. Tension in government during an election year. A hard-hit economy and rising unemployment. The list could go on, it doesn’t even begin to encompass all of the personal challenges we face on a daily basis, most of them known only to us.

On one hand, it would be overstating the fact to say that we are living in unprecedented times. On the other, in the broad span of history, the challenges we face today are nothing new. There have been plagues and depressions before. There has been civil unrest and outright war. Nations have risen and fallen, and whole ecosystems have been shaped by forces beyond human control. In fact, if you look closely enough, all of these events are found in biblical times, and many of them happen directly to God‘s people, the people that He has loved with an everlasting love and drawn close to His heart with a persistent kindness and grace. You don’t have to read through too much of the biblical narrative to come across plenty of challenges that God’s people have faced.

So while there are some challenges that no one in their right mind would choose for themselves, and can’t be controlled by human power or initiative, there are some challenges that we can actively step into for the sake of health and growth. And I believe there are some challenges that our Savior Jesus actively encourages us to pursue, knowing that our life with Him will be enlivened and enriched beyond measure when we trust His leading. In fact, Jesus had a masterful way of inviting people into His life, then challenging them to be people who would grow the Father's Kingdom by their obedience to His commands. He loved every person exactly as He found them, but loved them too much to allow them to stay the same. He graciously ushered them into relationship with God, which is the essence of the Gospel, then challenged them to seek the Father’s heart and change their ways to look more like His, which looks like a picture of His righteousness and His good law. Jesus invited His disciples to come and follow Him, to join their life to His, to be on His shoulder and observe how He walked through the world. But in the same breath, He pointed to the cross, His destination and a symbol of theirs, and gave them a glimpse at what discipleship would cost them all.

My friends, some of the challenges we are facing aren’t ones we would willingly choose, and we trust God to bring peace, health, and resolution in His time and His way. However, I firmly believe that God is challenging us to step into new patterns of spiritual growth and maturity. Most notably, I desperately want to see Immanuel become a community of people who know the heart of God and pray earnestly for His kingdom's coming in our midst, wherever we go and wherever we are found.

I know we all have our challenges. But I've found that when we lean into the challenges God sends us, we find unexpected blessings, and we will all be better off. We will be more alive. We will be more fulfilled. Our lives will be running over with meaningful experiences, rich with God’s goodness. I pray you hear good news from God in Temple spaces, and find plenty of opportunities to minister to your friends, coworkers, and neighbors in your Table spaces, and find joy along the way, because…

Adventure is out there!

Pastor Aaron