Our church plant, Restoration, just celebrated its first anniversary! It's hard to believe that it's already been one year. I'm reflecting on the year...and I have to say it hasn't been easy. Everyone says that the first year of church planting is so hard so it wasn't surprising. I guess I was expecting some action! Some big stuff...some huge moves of God. Don't get me wrong, the church is great. And, we've seen huge moves from the Lord. We are continually seeing people being drawn to Christ, putting their trust in him, getting baptized, and lives changing! We are seeing families change...it's amazing and will always be worth it. As silly as it sounds, because I know the work of the enemy, I wasn't sure how life could get worse. We had come through so many difficult seasons, I naively thought that we'd weathered enough and that any trials would just seem like a nuisance when compared to what we'd been through. I didn't think they'd bring me down the the level that they did.
Daniel and I jumped into this scary but exciting adventure after a pretty intense journey of seeking God's will for our family and ministry. It taught us a lot about dependence on him. So we JUMPED! We were all in...we had visions of great things...we were in this together for the first time. We got to put together a vision of ministry that really reflected God's heart for the church. It was great! It was exciting. Then I crashed. With some fresh ministry wounds and some new struggles with my special needs son, I was landed...I was flattened...I was put into a cage. Or at least that was what it felt like. Everything had to stop for me...I was pulled out of the ministry that I helped to shape...I missed everything. I was so discouraged. I was mad at God. I was mad at my son. (Just keepin it real folks). There was no way out. There IS no way out.
Well, it's one year later...and I can say that not all that much has changed! I think so often we beg God to take us OUT of the pain...knowing that he has the power to do so. And why wouldn't he want to protect his children from pain? Doesn't he care? The truth is that it's easier to plant a house church than it is to plant a mega church. The enemy knows that what we're doing is HUGE. And, I am the easiest target...to discourage my husband, to mess up our family, and slowly to erode our church.
I started reading this book called, The Cure, by John Lynch. The book tells a story about a man who is forced to choose between two roads: the way that pleases God and the way that trusts God. As he struggles to make choices on his journey, he eventually comes to a place where there is a banner displaying the message "Standing with God, my sin in front of us, working on it together." This was so powerful for me...the image of sin/struggle being a barrier between Jesus and I...SHATTERED. He's standing next to me...looking at the map...he's journeying with me as I have good moments and bad. He cries with me as I watch my son struggle and as I say goodbye yet again to my husband and daughter...headed to church not understanding why our family cannot minister together. It feels so lonely...so isolating, but I'm not alone.
There is no real happy ending to my story. Not in the world's eyes anyway. My story is continually being written, and I have to say that it is littered with so much blessing along the way. And, Jesus has splattered good relationships all throughout my life to continually remind me of how good God really is. I have a strong faith. (It's probably related to how stubborn I am). I will not give up. I will not walk away. I love too much and I take my calling seriously. But it is hard...
I got the chance to see singer/songwriter JJ Heller in concert and fell in love again with her song "Your Hands". The lyric