Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Letting Go from in the Trenches

It is hard to let go.
More so when you have spent time in the trenches. We are muddy, dirty, beat up and exhausted. And tired, we are so very tired. We are tired of the hurtful comments of those outside looking in. We are tired of being ridiculed for allowing the defeat to occur. We are tired of hearing: You should have fought harder. Done better. Been more. This is your fault, not ours. And maybe they are right—we should have, but before all of you outsiders get too smug about the demise of the Review and Herald Publishing Association—what is happening here is your fault too.

If the publishing houses had been given the support due (tithe, for starters)—would this be happening? Hard to say. But likely we'd at least of had a fighting chance to succeed.  After all, our books have had to go up against bestselling authors such as Max Lucado, Beth Moore, Priscilla Shirer, David Platt, John MacArthur, Kay Arthur, Karen Kingsbury, and Francis Chan. These authors write to the masses, to the individual, to the race, the woman, the man, the teen, the nerd, the good girl, the wild heart—they don't limit, but expand.

Where did we go wrong? And why is this mess our fault? We just followed orders. Why has the Church turned their back on us? How is it that we have been expected to capture the talent inside the Adventist Church when we are given so little to work with? There talent within these walls, has it been wasted? Imagine how different things would have been if we had actually produced product that inspired and nourished the soul? Bestsellers—imagine that, our books being read by the Atheist, the Catholic, the Baptist, the Jew, or even the Muslim—found nationwide in bookstores that are easy to get to. Books that speak to our inner soul, drawing us closer to our Creator.

But we didn't.
We stuck with the familiar. We got comfortable. We supported the idea of outreach—but didn't do it ourselves. We worried about what others thought and stuck with their ideals instead reaching the unchurched masses. Our books have become stuffy and doctrine filled. Full of ideals that damage and starve the spiritually hungry—our audience has gone elsewhere, and really—can you really blame them?

Our books are printed and then they sit.
And sit. In our warehouse. Unread. Unwanted. You wouldn't believe the stuff that is back there.
How then can we blame our consumers for not wanting what we print? If we don't even buy our books—how can we fault others? The demise of the Review and Herald started with us. We make up the Church. The Church didn't let us down, we let ourselves down. And to be perfectly honest, we let God down too.

The closure isn't our punishment. It is the outcome of bad management.

And yet, God is still faithful. Even though we messed up (again), God has given us another chance—to try again, to do better, to learn from our mistakes, to reach. We have Pacific Press Publishing Association and it is alive—it is still publishing, printing, and getting the word out. What are we going to do with that gift?

We are going to let the Review and Herald go. And we are going to support Pacific Press—we don't have to like what is happening, we don't even have to like the people stepping into this change. But we have been called to support it—to climb out of the trenches—to let go.

And that is where the trouble often starts. We will let go under these conditions. If you meet these needs, we will consider it. It is as if we think that we can keep Change in line.

Except we can't.
I've sat through the meetings. I've listened to the questions, demands, and the words of "unfair!" spoken in no uncertain terms. I've heard the grumbles, the slander, and bitterness. Since this is now happening, people want to squeeze as much as possible out of the Church—they want "their" money.

The problem is—Change is scared too. The more people poke, prod, and lecture him—the more defensive he gets. We aren't the only ones experiencing change—Change is changing too.

Get back! All of you! Touch not the cat! Grrrrrrr!

My point?
Stop fighting Change.
The closure of the Review and Herald is going to happen whether we like it or not. We have been asked to pass the baton to the next runner. We've been asked to move on. Of course it is scary, but we serve a mighty God—we have nothing to fear, though our world is crumbling around us.

It is important to remember that we can't force our ideals on God—His solution might not be what we think it should be—but He will provide for us. His provision might require us to move. It might require us to go back to school. It might require us to put our children in public school or even face the fear of unemployment. But the point is—He will still provide.

Our God is mighty.
Our God is strong.
Our God will provide.
Our God is just.

What are you going to do with this knowledge?

First, I'm going to remember. This building holds memories for me, as it does for many of us.
My sister and I knew every inch of this building growing up. We explored the drainage pipe by the duck pond, climbed the trees, got stuck in the elevator, had swivel chair races down the halls, explored the warehouse (in the spooky dark), climbed the stairs to the roof, thought the door to the darkroom was incredible, explored backstage, and waited (not always patiently) for our parents to get off work. This building was our playground.

And then, I'm going to let it go. All of it. The God I serve is not confined to structures made by men. He can use me anywhere. Me and Change, we are going places. The trenches need us no longer.

This idea is totally crazy!