The Prize — St. Peter's Fireside | Vancouver, B.C. 

by Alastair Sterne
June 4, 2012
5 min read

I have been having a rough go of it lately, which is strange because nothing is overtly wrong in my life. Things may be different, but they aren’t wrong. My struggle is more of an internal battle than difficulties with external circumstances. Granted, Julia and I have gone through (and are still in) a massive transition. It’s difficult to put into words really. You know you’re in fog and you can’t quite put words to describe where you are? This is where I have been. Something is off, something hurts, but its hard to describe.

The best I can do to describe my current landscape is to say that I am in a place of sadness. It’s a valley, a low. It is marked perhaps even by mourning. Not in the melodramatic sense, but in the truest sense of the definition: sorrowing or lamenting. We often associate mourning with death, but I think it is more comprehensive than that.

We can mourn any sort of loss. Our transition is surely a part of the sadness I’m experiencing. I am mourning the loss of leaving Orlando. I am mourning all the friendships that are now changing, or are becoming strained. I am mourning the loss of consistency and routine. I am mourning the reality that the life Julia and I had in Orlando will never be again.

We can mourn brokenness. I am also mourning the reality of Vancouver. There is a deep need for the gospel. People have absolutely no sense of need for, or desire of Jesus. I am mourning the fact that the way of Jesus is a joke to most people here.

We can mourn over our sins. I am mourning my self. I am mourning the fact that I feel a sense of self-importance or arrogance. I am repenting of the belief that I am able enough, charismatic enough, or smart enough to bring about the hopes and dreams I have for God’s kingdom in Vancouver on my own. I’m mourning my loss of control (or more honestly, my recognition that I never had any to begin with).

We can mourn over our longing for what will be. While I see glimpses of God at work in this city, I am mourning his clear absence in much of the life of my new home. I am mourning the distance between heaven and Vancouver. When I see glimmers of his grace, love, and truth my heart turns to deep desire: an insatiable longing to experience more. I feel like I get a drop of water when I am parched and thirsting for more. I long for more, I end up mourning what is not.

Now, I am not in a bad place spiritually. I am convinced of that. I am in a hard place, but not a bad place. This isn’t some sort of crisis of faith. I am in a valley where I wonder how God will show up. But I believe this is exactly where God wants me to be. After all, the second beatitude is “Blessed are those who mourn for they will be comforted” (Matt. 5:4). If the beatitudes are the marks of people who belong to the kingdom of God, then mourning in all its forms is considered blessed.

If mourning is what it will take to keep my heart alive for the kingdom of God, then so be it. I will grieve over the changes from our transition. I will lament and long for God in this place. I will mourn over my own sin. I will be sad, even though mourning in and of itself is painful. 

Even in this place of mourning, I can be certain about one thing. A close mentor of mine said to me the other day “No matter if you succeed or fail in Vancouver; you already have the prize, Alastair.”

God is my prize.

Isn’t this a brilliant thought?

No matter what will come, God is our prize. No matter failure or success, God is our prize.

Be it a surprising change of plans, or the shattering of dreams, or if we gain everything we have ever hoped for, still God is our prize. He is with us and cares for us even more the sparrows. He is all we need. While we may have questions, unanswered prayers, uncertainty, and sorrowful longing, God is all we need. God is our prize.

The beatitude calls us blessed because we will be comforted. God is the one who has mourned so deeply for us. The Son offered himself for us. Jesus laid down his life, so that the Father’s lost children might come home. Yet, who can imagine the great depths of mourning that God the Father experienced over his crucified Son bearing the sins of the world? Who can fathom what God has gone through, what he has mourned, for us?

This is our comfort, blessed indeed.

Lord Jesus, have mercy on us. May our hearts be satisfied in you alone.

about the author
Alastair is the lead pastor at St. Peter’s Fireside. Once upon a time he was a touring musician of a forgettable indie band, and a Creative Director at a few design agencies. He is the husband of Julia, the father of Ansley and Maggie, and quite skilled with "the photoshop." If you're feeling up for it, you can follow him on Instagram.

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