THE BEAUTY [AND PAIN] OF GROWTHWords by our Dallas Campus Pastor: Kevin Tipps.
At UPPERROOM Dallas our growth is something we all see and experience. Especially while we drive aimlessly around the building on a weekend trying to find a parking spot for service or waiting in line for twenty minutes to put in our coffee order at Hands + Rose. Our growth as a community is undeniable and it's a beautiful thing. It's a sign of health. A fruit of blessing. A testimony to the hunger so many feel to know God more and be transformed by His presence with us. But growth also poses a unique set of challenges. The term "growing pains" was coined for good reason. We all experience these growing pains, either personally or corporately. We all feel the uncomfortable tension of the need of the moment mingled with the desire for more and the expectation of what's coming. I've found that my response to "growth", whether corporately or personally, has been fickle. One minute I'm blown away in awe and overcome with gratitude that God is expanding and increasing territory. The next minute I'm wishing for the comfort of the "old days", the familiar, and the manageable. I know this is a tension we all live in.
But the question is... will we embrace that tension?
As the Campus Pastor of Dallas and a new dad to a 9-week old son, GROWTH has been an undeniable theme in my life as of late and I've experienced in the wake of this growth, the dangerous dance between gratitude and grumbling. Growth means change and change isn't always easy or comfortable. Growth requires both a letting go of what was while also an open hand and heart to what is and will be. Growth requires flexibility and sacrifice. I had an "ah ha", as Oprah would say, while sitting on my back patio this past summer. My wife and I bought our first home in May. It was beautifully redone and was more than we could have asked for or imagined. We were humbled and so grateful to call it our own. But the yard... well that was a different story. It was full of bare patches of earth and weeds, which was an eyesore and point of frustration for me. As I sat in my backyard one evening I noticed that the grass had reached an alarming height after a bought of summer rain. My first thought was, “I have GOT to find time to mow this yard but ain't nobody got time for that". As I continued to asses this annoying situation, I slowly began to notice that the bald patches of dirt where filling in. The lawn was growing but that growth required work. It required maintenance. It required a sacrifice of time and sweat. (It was still 100+ degrees at the time). That's when I realized that my response to growth was all about perspective. I could have focused on the patches that were still bare. I could have resented that the parts that had filled in were now 4 inches high, beckoning me to mow it and calling me to action. I could have focused on the problem. In that moment, however, I found my self rejoicing that what was once barren was beginning to see new life. It required work and sacrifice on my part to accommodate this growth for sure, but I I found a place of gratitude in my heart in knowing this... I would rather face the challenges and demands of growth than stare at barren dirt.
This may be a silly metaphor only homeowners with dodgy lawns can relate too, but I think the principle applies to us all. As we grow as a community and discover that adding a Saturday service STILL means we have to hunt for our parking spot and show up 30+ minutes early for a seat, will we choose to focus on the inconvenience or will we rejoice that we've been sown into a community that's expanding? We may still have to walk a half mile from our car to church and yes the line for a coffee is still comparable to the line at the DMV, but will we choose to forgo our own comfort to embrace the gratitude that we are a part of a growing family that's seeing new life break forth? New services make more room for the hungry and the desperate for God and people arrive every week who drive, fly, and pray their way to Dallas to lay down in the green grass we, together with Him, have cultivated.
David assures us in Psalm 23 that God would lead us beside still waters and green pastures. What David left out it seems is that we may have to mow that pasture from time to time. I'm grateful for the many of you who lay your life down to serve in the most unseen and often uncelebrated ways- those who greet visitors with a genuine smile and warm welcome, who drive around the parking lot in golf carts to pick up people in the rain, who put out communion so we can all feast on the remembrance of His sacrifice and gift of life in the bread and wine, and clean up empty coffee cups and water bottles after service, thank you!
For ALL of you that have embraced the challenges of growth and stepped up to the plate to put your hand to the plow, I want to thank you. For others, I would invite you to discover the beauty of gratitude that's found in embracing the tension of growth and applying your unique strength and grace to this ever-expanding garden that we all call home... the UPPERROOM.
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