Our theme for 2019 is “The Body.” This is explored in our studies, our podcasts, and weekly in our blog. Today’s blog is titled….
The Body on my lawn
Josh Beeler is the Associate Pastor for Youth and College at Central Baptist Church of Fountain City in Knoxville, TN. He is a graduate of Old Dominion University and of the Baptist Theological Seminary at Richmond. Josh is married to his wonderful wife, Sherry, who he enjoys sharing conversation, adventures, and life with. He is ridiculously playful and works daily to maintain his mischievousness. Josh enjoys playing, singing, reading, questioning and laughing with friends.
I know, it sounds more like a confession in a precinct than the start of a youth ministry blog, but I had to draw you in, right?!
In one way though, this does start as a confession—I’m not the biggest fan of my home. There, I said it. Admitting it is half the problem, and it truly feels nice to just put that out into the internet ether. Me and my home are not on the best of terms.
My wife and I bought our home in August of 2017, and ever since then, it has been discovery after discovery of what’s wrong with it. Old carpet. Busted stairs. Leaking pipes. Leaking roof. Inoperable chimneys. Bad electrical. Disgusting air ducts. Broken A/C. Ruined drywall. Broken attic fans. Busted windows. Leaking foundation. If there’s something to experience, we’ve done it. It’s the equivalent of a state fair with awful, unsafe rides that you feel obligated to ride because you paid admission. Add in bad contractor and home warranty experiences along the way, and it’s a perfect storm. We’re keeping an inventory in case some production company is ready to reboot “Money Pit” (I do have the class of a young Tom Hanks if I do say myself…).
So to say that it’s been frustrating over the last year and a half or so is an understatement. But if I’m being honest, I had an idea that at least some of this stuff might be around the corner with this purchase. I was never completely excited about it, but there were always a few bright spots that shown in the midst of the concern…
First, it was right in the heart of our church community. Nestled on one of the main roads by our church, I knew that this would be a great spot to call home with the rest of my congregants. Second, it has great space for hosting. We’ve had graduation parties, super bowl parties (don’t sue me NFL…), and plenty of movie and game nights to go around. We actually got to build 16 feet of table to turn our back room into a giant dining space for meals with family and friends. And finally, the yard is EPIC.
When we visited this home, the yard was easily the selling point for me. A giant flat space at the bottom for any activity you could want. A massive hill for slip n’ slide in the summer and sledding in the winter (if it ever decides to snow again in East Tennessee…). This yard was a youth minister’s dream. And in spite of all the frustrations with home repair and expenses adding up, I can truly say that the yard has not disappointed. It has truly become one of my favorite spaces for gathering our church’s body of believers for the sake of shared fellowship.
To date, we’ve had a slip n’ slide half-a-football field long—complete with T-Rex sprinklers, boogie boards, and all the random pool floats you could imagine. We’ve had a star viewing party. I’ve cut the grass down as a base path for epic games of kickball with more space than we could need. We’ve had the obligatory rolling competitions. And of course, that flat space has provided more than enough parking space for all of these events as well.
Here’s my point in saying all of this: life is full of all kinds of junk, but the people and the relationships that God blesses us with help us to get through it all. In the midst of this crazy time of home ownership, I’ve found great truth and solace in the teaching of 1 John 4:12—“No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God lives in us, and his love is perfected in us.” It might sound crazy, but in these trying months when God seemed SO far away from my home, I got to see God in the faces of friends inside those walls—amidst inflatable dinosaurs, overcrowded kitchens, and neighbors gawking at all the post-slip-n-slide dead grass.
I know we’ve all heard it (and probably said it to our students) a thousand times, but God truly is greater than our circumstances. God’s love is so much more overwhelming than whatever it is that we might face. And though my house and I may continue to be at odds for some time, I will remember that even here I can see God in the (Church) Body gathered on my lawn.