Humanity’s spiritual waters are being stirred in mighty ways right now. The commotion is carrying people to very different places of being and knowing. There is no right or wrong place to be at the moment. We simply are where we are, while everything seems to be in a state of flux.
Right now, the traditional model of the church resembles a woman in travail … struggling to understand why her efforts have not yielded sweeter fruit. I feel compassion for the historical journey of this woman who is now struggling to emerge from her cocoon to be the beautiful creature she is intended to be … a perfect metaphor for current happenings.
She didn’t set sail 2,000 years ago, hoping to end up lost at sea, holding on for dear life during a violent storm. But, as foreshadowed by the shipwreck off the coast of Malta in Acts 27, that appears to be another metaphor for current happenings.
Other accounts in Scripture also foreshadow the present condition of the church.
She is like the hemorrhaging woman … fighting her way through a nameless, faceless crowd just for a chance to touch the hem of Jesus’ garment. Her arm is outstretched as far as she can extend it, yet the crowd pushes against her. She cannot get close enough to touch him. We know how the story ends, but presently, the woman is caught up in the crowd. In real time, the foreshadowed saga is playing out in painfully slow-motion cinematography. We can see the look on her face. We can feel the hope in her heart. We know she has faith that she will reach her desire if she just keeps pushing her way through the crowd. How we wish we could increase the speed of the film! Matthew 9, Mark 5, Luke 8.
She is presently waking up to a midnight hour cry, only to discover some of her wedding attendants have run out of oil. Worse yet, other attendants are hoarding their oil to light their own way to the wedding banquet. Instead of sharing with those in need, they selfishly send their sisters into the dark of night to ‘buy’ oil for themselves. A true lack of understanding regarding what behavior might please the heart of her bridegroom, Matthew 25.
She has lived the life of a hard-working Martha figure who thinks she is well within her right to complain about her less than helpful sister, Mary, Luke 10.
She is like the woman of Samaria who stands in the heat of the day at a well of water, only to discover her own reflection in the eyes of Jesus. Not able to turn away, she is forced to confess her personal truth: “I have no husband,” John 4.
She also mirrors the adulterous woman surrounded by a crowd of her peers who are all too willing to stone her to death for the crime of looking for love in all the wrong faces. Only Jesus’ love can save her from the stone throwers, John 8.
The church is living the life of a pale green horse whose rider is Death with Hades close behind, Revelation 6. And lastly, like Eve, she continues to be deceived by the voice of an ancient serpent, who instills that strong desire to be like God, Genesis 3.
Despite the woeful imagery, these biblical accounts provide an incredible amount of illumination for the church at this moment in time.