Where the Wild Things Are

where_the_wild_things_are_ver2 When I was a little boy my mother used to read the book “Where the Wild Things Are” to me before I would go to bed.  It is the story of a little boy who had been very naughty and was sent to his room where he fell asleep and dreamed of going to where the wild things are and having a “wild rumpus” with them, eventually becoming the king of the wild things.  The story ends with the boy feeling homesick and going home only to awaken from his dream and find that his mother had left a meal for him in his room that was still hot.

It’s funny, but sometimes ministry can feel a lot like this children’s book.  If you’ve ever attended a tense church business meeting, sat in on a controversial elder meeting, or participated in a church budget meeting you have probably experienced something of a “wild rumpus” with the people of God.

If you aren’t careful, it would be easy to allow these experiences to weigh down your spirit and become a cause of great angst rather than an occasion for your own growth in the discipline of patience.  The fact of the matter is that if you’re wondering “where the wild things are?”, the answer is that many of them are here at the church and they are here for a reason.

I was recently reminded of the story of Charles Simeon who was a pastor in the church of England in the 1700’s.  Charles Simeon was assigned to a church that essentially despised him because he preached the gospel and called men to live holy lives.  The malice of some of the people in the church went so deep that they actually locked their pews (at this time individual people could own pews and refuse to allow others to sit in them) and forced the rest of the congregation to stand in the aisles as Charles Simeon would preach.  Now I’ve seen some wild things in my years of ministry, but I’ve never seen something like that.  What makes this scenario even more unbelievable is that it went on for 12 years straight.

I’ve been greatly helped by Charles Simeon’s comment on his “wild rumpus” over these 12 years.  Simeon wrote:

In this state of things I saw no remedy but faith and patience. The passage of Scripture which subdued and controlled my mind was this, “The servant of the Lord must not strive.” It was painful indeed to see the church, with the exception of the aisles, almost forsaken; but I thought that if God would only give a double blessing to the congregation that did attend, there would on the whole be as much good done as if the congregation were doubled and the blessing limited to only half the amount. This comforted me many, many times, when without such a reflection, I should have sunk under my burden. (H. C. G. Moule, Charles Simeon, [London: The InterVarsity Fellowship, 1948, orig. 1892], p. 39)

If you’re in the church for almost any amount of time you will encounter the wild things and sadly at one point or another most of us will act like one of the wild things.  What Charles Simeon has taught me is that in my encounters with the wild things God is actively pursuing my growth in  “faith and patience” and that makes the wild rumpus worth it.

HT: Desiring God

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October 26 2009 10:10 am | Devotional

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