When I got older my parents bought their own place on the lake, a much larger house that soon enjoyed such amenities as a microwave, satellite TV and eventually internet. It was about this time that my soon to be wife and I began dating. We often went to the lake after we were married and started having kids. For my kids the lake house is "grandma and grandpa's house" but it is still special. For all of us, especially my siblings and I, the lake is our place of refuge as much as it is a place of relaxation. In a world that is often tumultuous the lake house has long been a constant for us, a place that has taken on far greater meaning than just somewhere to go for a week to relax. I go to the lake when I need the lake and it has always been there. It is also a link to the past. The home I grew up in has long since been sold. My grandparents are gone. The lake remains. Some day the house at the lake will be sold and that anchor will go with it, leaving behind memories and pictures but until that day it will always be there waiting for the next time I need it.
Summertime in Northern Michigan is a work of God. It seems that nowhere I have ever been is more ideal for summertime than Northern Michigan and Black Lake is just the right size to enjoy it, not so large that it never warms up but big enough that you don't feel like the rest of the Midwest is vacationing right on top of you. Being north of the 45th parallel the days are very long in the summer, with lots of bright sunshine and warm temps that are usually not too warm. The nights are usually cool and breezy and along the lake the breeze means the gentle sound of the waves rolling in. Nothing is better for a good night of sleep. While there is not a lot of rainfall up north it does occasionally rain and even storm. When it storms, it is powerful, especially when the storm rolls over
|The shores of Black Lake|
That is all very lovely but so what? I was thinking about the church today, as I so often seem to be doing. By any measure we are experiencing a season of storms. This season for the church in the West and especially America is not without precedent. There have always been times like this in the church, notably the Reformation but the church has survived. We will survive again. I also believe that like the lake after a storm, once the clouds roll away and the waves stop crashing we will see more clearly than before. Who the church is, what the church is and why the church is, those big questions that we face, will be more readily answered. We have gotten lost in the culture rather than being a contrast to it. Our mission has been clouded by privilege and wealth to the point that we no longer even know who we are. We are either entrenching ourselves against the culture that suddenly seems hostile or finding new opportunities to capitulate in the hopes of retaining our favorable position for a few more years. Yet we are experiencing tumultuous storms, a roiling of the waters that I hope will clear away many of the factors that have interfered with our vision.
Storms can be daunting and even scary but the storms always end. What the church desperately needs is to refocus, to simplify and even to be humbled. What is left after the storms may very be washed clean and be seen clearly, the debris of culture religion washed away. We are desperately need of clarity and simplicity. Maybe a storm is just what the Great Physician ordered? Instead of huddling in fear perhaps we ought to embrace the storm, confident of what is to come afterward. Christ said that His Church would always stand but He never said it would be easy or comfortable. History has shown that the church is often the healthiest right after things looked the most grim.