The other night I started coming down with something. I wasn't sleeping very well. I was tossing and turning at night. I wasn't going to bed when I should. I wasn't feeling good at all. I was very short with my wife and kids. I wasn't sure what was going on so I started wondering what was wrong with me. That's when I got an e-mail with a book offer to read and blog about. The book was called Steeple Envy: Losing my Religion and Rediscovering Jesus. That's when it hit me what was wrong with me. I had a severe case of steeple envy.
At times this book helped me with my case of steeple envy. The author's (Victor Cuccia) openness and authenticity with his struggles was a breath of fresh air. His passion for the work of the Kingdom, and not just church, resonated with my spirit. At times when he described his work and his churches work in Guatemala and his "12x12 Love Project" (visit www.1212loveproject.org for more information), I began to tear up and dream how Veritas could be involved in something that really matters in the world. Helping move the Kingdom of God forward and not just the church. I appreciated his desire to just be and do church with people, and not worry about things like buildings, budget, numbers, growth, etc.... At times I was blown away by his story and how God moved and worked in providing them space, finances to fund kingdom projects, and how people's lives were changed.
At the same time some of the time my case of steeple envy came flooding back. (Nothing that was his fault...just my insecurity, frustration, and steeple envy). While he said he wasn't about numbers, he shared how many people came in such a short time (I believe it was 75 people in a relatively short period of time). My steeple envy started to grow. He mentioned how God provided for them and his community in crazy ways (100,000 dollars towards a new building with no funding campaign, no solicitations, etc..) My steeple envy grew some more. He told stories of life change, people giving selfishly and radically, and people becoming disciples of Jesus. My steeple envy grew.
I began to realize that my case of steeple envy was really really bad. I couldn't rejoice in the story of another. I couldn't rejoice in the story how God continued to provide for some awesome Kingdom projects. I couldn't rejoice with stories of life change, the Kingdom moving forward, and God being glorified...all because I was envious and jealous of "their steeple". This book showed me that I have a long way to go in losing my religion and rediscovering Jesus. It showed me that I sometimes an jealous of what God is doing somewhere else and I don't see where God is moving in me, my family, and my community. I forget the stories of how God has continually provided for my family and I (and our community) over the last 3 years. I forget the stories of lives that we have engaged with. I don't celebrate the wins that we have seen. Sometimes my case of steeple envy is so bad that I don't thank God for the people that he has brought alongside us to partner with us, because I am so focused on growing and looking at finding others.
So while it was a "painful" read as it showed me the extent of my brokenness and steeple envy, it was helpful as it also helped me to see God is working in Lancaster just like he is working in Jacksonville. That I need to focus on what God is doing and has done in me, my family and my community as well as rejoice with the story of God moving in awesome ways through the author and his faith community.
So pray for me. Pray for my case of Steeple Envy. Pray that I would be able to sleep better. Pray that I would be able to pray blessing on others (as we are on the same team). Pray that I would spend time in confession when my case of steeple envy comes back. Pray that I could be thankful for all that God has blessed us with and not focus on what others have. Pray that I wouldn't compare myself to others (because when I do I always lose).
Thanks to the Speakeasy Blog program for the opportunity to read the book and start to diagnose what was wrong with me. Thanks also to Victor Cuccia for sharing his story with others through his book and helping me to learn how to rejoice in what God is doing through him and his community. And my prayer is still that I might get to see some of the same things (life change, Kingdom impact, growth-spiritually, missionally, relationally, etc..) in Veritas.