“We’ve always believed in a big God … a God Who is greater than any problem or challenge we could ever face,” Sheila Schuller Coleman, the Cathedral’s senior pastor, said in the statement. “Our announcement today to file for the protection of Chapter 11 is just one more chapter in the book that He is continuing to write.”
If you don’t know the context of that quote, the famous megachurch The Crystal Cathedral in California, once started in a drive-in theatre, is now driving down the road of bankruptcy. Not so much through mismanagement, but suffering as the rest of America from a pitiful economic condition.
I suppose, as an observer, there may be a few responses to such a situation. It could be that the standard of “performance” continued even as revenues faltered. It could be that their level of faith went beyond that of their parishioners. Or, it could be that the expectation of God’s bigness was not related correctly to reality.
Not being a theologian, I’m not always certain how theology confronts reality when it comes to faith or the expectations of faith. I often look at my circumstances and wonder why a Big God couldn’t intervene and show a bit of kindness to a little person. I look at my wife’s continued faithfulness and devotion and wonder, “Would it be too much to ask that God show a bit of favor toward her?” Naturally these are both selfish interests, but legitimate in my estimation. Similar arguments interested me when we were lagging in selling a second home in another state shortly after moving to NC. It seemed so out-if-sorts to me that God would waste those resources when, according to some, with the power only God can bring to a situation, He could have brought a buyer for that house in an instant. But apparently He thought better of it.
Now I know there may be a time when I look back and see “the hand of God” in all of our choices and circumstances. And I suppose that will be well and good. Of course, there is always the chance I’ll look back on this and think, why the hell did that happen to us?
Those of greater faith than I seem to weather these kind of circumstances better than I – at least verbally and on the surface. Although I suspect they may feel similar anxieties and questions, they simply don’t have the courage to admit it. Nevertheless, they seem to do well. And of course, there are many more people more important to God than I, who go through much deeper struggles and carry much heavier burdens – without complaint. Those are the ones you read about in Guideposts.
Wait, did I say “more important to God than I?” How can that be? Is my importance to God based on what I do for the kingdom? Is it based on my fruit bearing capabilities? Based on my level of faith? My ability to influence others for the Gospel? Or am I important to God simply because I am?
Is the Crystal Cathedral important to God because of its many successes in ministry? Is it more important than that little country church on Faith Road in NC? Is any megachurch more important to God than any other church that proclaims the Gospel. Or perhaps, God is bringing the Crystal Cathedral to a reality check.
Who or what is important to God? Can we know the mind of God to the extent of knowing what He invests with importance and what He does not? Is it as simple as good and evil? The faithful and the faithless?
Maybe my circumstance has nothing to do with importance to any degree. Life is life and similar to the deists, God set it all in motion and it will be what it will be. My job is to deal with it the best I can with the hand I’m dealt. After all, life “is a book He is continuing to write.”
Uhm….reckon I’ll ponder it all some more.