Right after all the deaths in our family last year and Marcos’ surgery there was a whole series of events that happened at our church in Eureka.
It’s a long story, there was a lot to it. There’s much that shouldn’t be said, lots that just can’t be said and things that just aren’t worth being said.
Marcos and I ended up taking a sabbatical from the church for the summer.
Not only was there the stress and drama of what was going on in our family, the one thing that was keeping me moving forward was suddenly missing.
I’ve grown up in church. My dad is a Pastor. Church and ministry – it’s what we do. It’s like breathing. It just comes naturally. It’s in my heart so deeply that I can’t imagine a life without it.
And suddenly it was gone.
For some, stepping out into ministry is so far beyond them.
For me, NOT being in ministry was so far past my comfort zone.
I didn’t know how to just go to church and be able to sit in a worship service. I didn’t know how to just hear a sermon and be able to get something out of it?
The minister inside of me was making mental notes:
“Those songs didn’t flow right…they should’ve transitioned sooner…that was an awkward jump in keys between those songs…the video for announcements was’t edited right…that plan will never work for that youth activity, it’s going to be a disaster…” and on and on…I just wanted to jump in and save everything. (how lame, right?)
I didn’t know how to let go and find what God wanted for me.
I’m real big on telling everyone, “It’s only for a moment of your life that you’re here right now. Find your lessons, enjoy the moment and don’t wish away this season you’re in.”
I obviously didn’t know how to do that for myself. Easier said than done, I guess.
My mind was clouded with grief and confusion. The deeper we went, the more we were digging up 2 and 3 different sides to stories and promises and things we were being told. We didn’t know who to believe and if there was anyone we could really trust. We began to question if people had our best interests at heart or did they just want something we had to offer? That’s a sad reality of life, church or no church. We are all human at the end of the day after all…
Looking back, it was a huge turning point in my life.
For the best?
Without a doubt.
I learned so much about myself…
About His heart.
About His nature.
Mostly, I learned about freedom…
I came to the point that I didn’t know where to go next, what to do next…I didn’t know what my life was going to look like from one day to the next, let alone a month or two months down the road.
I remember one day on my day off, I went down to a beach near our house with my headphones and my Bible and sat on these rocks and cried as I listened to worship music.
I remember being afraid of the unseen and the unfamiliar and being tired. So tired. I just wanted to have something solid to look to and trust in, something I would have in front of me to know everything was going to be OK.
I opened my Bible and I had a marker in it in the book of James…
“Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do it’s work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in ANY way…Anyone who meets a testing challenge head-on and manages to stick it out is mighty fortunate. For such persons loyally in love with God, the reward is life and more life.” James 1:2-4, 12 MSG version
Consider it a gift…don’t try to get out of it prematurely…let it do its work…meet a testing challenge head on…
Those words swirled around in my head. And I understood the depth of truth in them for the first time in a long time.
God had our back. He wasn’t out to harm us. He wasn’t surprised by our circumstances. He had a plan to not get us OUT of them, but THROUGH them. And not barely, by the skin of our teeth, but triumphantly.
I’d love to say I went home super victoriously and never struggled throughout the remainder of our time there. It just isn’t true, my humanness got the best of me a few more (million) times. There were times I snapped at people, got angry at them, said things I shouldn’t have to them or about them.
There were days I just didn’t want to be there and I didn’t want to be obedient. I CAN say I did everything I was asked…not always joyfully…but I did my best to honor the leaders in my life at that time. All the while under my breath,
“Lord, I’m doing this for YOU, because I love YOU, not because of them…could you do me a solid and tell them that??? Like, audibly tell them that? Thanks!!”
But overall there was so much freedom found in my prayer and worship time after that. I would go back to that passage and read it again and again. At the end of my life, my prayer is that I honor my Father in heaven in everything I do and every choice I make.
I was able to walk away with a clear conscience and the freedom of knowing that it didn’t matter what 1,000 other people could say to me, I heard the voice of God and found His will for my life and it didn’t matter if anyone else liked it or agreed, I was on the path God had for me.
An unfamiliar one.
A scary one.
One that doesn’t make any sense to me still in my mind.
One that is beginning to open doors for my family that have been my hearts desire for a long time.
And that is the freedom I found…OBEDIENCE…even when it seems crazy and out of character. God’s laws don’t make sense to us, but they work!!! Obedience seems like bondage to some people, but trust me when I say it’s sheer FREEDOM!!!! I don’t have to worry, I don’t have to justify myself, I don’t have to care what anyone else thinks…I don’t have to worry about what the future will look like a month or a year or 10 years from now…I just have to worry about taking the next obedient step and watch it all work itself out.
God’s got me.