I came away from my morning time with Father feeling like a long-standing struggle has been resolved.
I often swing between two extremes. On one side is a confidence that God can use me as a pastor. On the other is an almost helpless and hopeless awareness of things wrong with me that prove me nothing of the sort.
Some days, both my pastoring and my pain seem to be almost plumb because I am attaching to God in whichever one he is working on with a genuine desire to be my best on the team. Other times, I don’t even know whether I am facing things the Father is showing me in the Beatitudinal Program or confronting the enemy’s schemes to stop me from accepting the training I need.
Lately, I have been combining the imagery of coach and shepherd to help our home church work together on how our team/flock is doing. We can never let go of the beauty of the shepherd/sheep relationship that is all through Scripture. It is the way Jesus wants us to see our relationship with him, and it is his choice of imagery for how pastors and churches relate to one another.
At the same time, there are so many aspects of the coach/team relationship that are familiar to us today that it has some benefit to add that facet of understanding how things work in each church. It is this metaphor/simile that opened the door for me to picture what our team is like right now, including my place in the mix.
Our personal identity is determined by the team Owner and was set in place before any of us were born. It really has nothing to do with our life-experience; it has everything to do with the Owner’s heart. This is about him picking us for his team, including what position each of us is to play.
But then life happened. We were all on the bus when disaster occurred. Everyone was hurt. Injuries galore. Incredible confusion. Brain injuries, PTSD, and lots and lots of pain. Trauma has been no respecter of persons, so everyone is left dealing with what happened to them irrespective of who they are on the team.
Triage has tried to sort out the urgency of all the treatments needed and the nature of what each person’s care should be. The Owner has it all working, but the injuries of all the teammates means there is a whole range of how well each person is attached to his purposes, how aware they are of his activity in helping them, and how they feel about his choice of treatment.
The one thing that does not change is the identity of our team and our players. We are who we are as a unit, and we are who we are in the positions that each person holds. We are just injured.
What this imagery settles for me is that I am still who I am on the team even when God shows me wounds that need addressing. My injuries say nothing about who I am, only about what I am capable of doing at the moment. This means that I am a coach injured in the same accident as the rest of the team, not a loser because my injuries have left me unable to be my best as a coach.
What does a good coach do when he discovers injuries that were hidden behind anesthetic or shock? He lets the owner prescribe his treatment for healing while he continues to contribute to the team out of the health that is still working as designed. He leads as far as his current ability allows, trusts team doctors to contribute treatments to the players that are beyond his area of expertise, and stays in constant contact with the Owner about how each player is doing and what they need.
Maybe this is one of those “please-show-me-something-in-words-or-pictures” moments where Father has again used my love of writing and describing things to let me see for myself what he wants for our team. I hope it encourages all our players to be who we are on the team while letting the Owner prescribe the treatment for our injuries as he sees best. Even while healing continues, we can contribute to building our relationship with the coach and the team so that we are helping the healing and training that is going on right now.
I hope that this word-picture also helps you see your place, position and condition on your local team more clearly. Maybe it will help you recognize how you can contribute to your own healing and physiotherapy by joining the treatment the Owner has prescribed for you and that it will actually encourage the rest of your team that you are doing what is needed for your injuries and training while everyone else is doing the same for theirs.
If each of us sees ourselves as the players the Owner has made us, accepting that we have as much to give the team as the Owner wants to do through us even when focusing on our own healing is all we can do, it will still build up and encourage the team that we are joining the Owner in his work and getting better for the sake of the team.
And, that may sometimes include what the Owner gives you to encourage your coach during those times that he is more aware of his injuries than his position.
If we all remember who we are, and who each teammate is, we will attach to the group dynamic of healing with the expectation that the Owner is making us a victorious team as we keep in step with what he is doing among us. I can see how he has encouraged me in this today, and I hope that my sharing about it, combined with your awareness of his work in you, will bring more hope, healing, and victory to our lives even today.
Unless otherwise noted, Scriptures are from the English Standard Version (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.)
 “Plumb” refers to the “plumbline” that hangs vertically true. It has been used since ancient times to measure the vertical line of walls, and to guide wall-builders in building walls that are vertically true. God uses the imagery of the plumbline to illustrate how he accurately measures how his people are relating to him, so it is nothing new to consider the illustration, even if it needs some explaining. Here are the Scriptures that refer to this: https://www.biblegateway.com/quicksearch/?quicksearch=plumb+line&resultspp=250&version=ESV
 The “Beatitudinal Program” is a way of referring to the Beatitudes of Matthew 5:1-12 as it would be described as a team training program to get every player in their best shape for the game.