Obviously, it's early in this appointment for the pastor. She's been at this two-point charge for less than 3 months, but it's hard to imagine things going much more smoothly. I say this the morning after a weird day of drama that kept her on the phone with people until past the time we usually like to go to bed. I am confident that in the long run, this dust-up will be only an afterthought, though the possibility of continued drama always exists. People are broken, all of us, but some more obviously than others.
So "declaring victory" at this early date may seem premature. However, these are words that I use in one form or another when discussing the state of things with the pastor. There's always someone upset or disappointed, no matter what good is happening before everyone's eyes. We know this on an intellectual level, and it's not a surprise at this point. So why does one naysayer or one negative offhand comment make us question so much of ourselves? I think it's what the pastor calls "the big lie."
The "big lie" is the tape we play in our heads over and over again that tells us that we are not enough. That we do not deserve to be loved, that we are not good enough or smart enough or can achieve enough to be worthy of anything, much less the love, grace, and mercy of God Almighty. This was a theme of her message on Sunday - God loves us with more grace and mercy than we can imagine. It's more even than we think we need. It's overflowing and intense.
Declare victory? Now? With so much ahead of us and not much behind us in this place with these people? With all the drama and garbage that we see in ourselves and those around us? Yes. Declare victory for what God has already done and what God is going to do. I think you have to declare victory as often as possible. Because the victory is God's and not ours. And also, because we must cling to the good that we see happening and remember it often. Remember, remember, remember. You were slaves in Egypt, and God heard your cry and reached out his mighty arm. You were a slave to sin and death and God came to be among us - descending from the highest height to the humiliation and suffering of the cross because GOD LOVES YOU. YOU ARE PRECIOUS TO GOD.
This is not a victory declaration that we are "done" in some way. It's more of a marker along our path. We will be declaring victory every time we perceive that God has shown up. We will hold fast to the moment so we don't forget it. At least that's what I hope for, and that's what I plan to do with God's help.