We weren't looking. The opportunity came to us with the understanding that we have but a short time with which to make the most of it. There's a need for someone (maybe a family) to be a bridge between local churches who have poor to feed, homeless to shelter, aliens to welcome, hurt to heal and the Body scattered abroad. To pour into those who are in early phases of ministry, to lead teens and their leaders for short term so they can go and lead where they're located. Will we leave our home for a city we love? Will we go to those we do not know who dwell far from those we hold dear? Will we let go of a steady paycheck, a big yard, a consistent church family for the unknown? Will we become missionaries in Envision, Cleveland? Hesitant and excited, honored and humbled, uncertain and sure... We PLOW...
Continuing the discussion with God. Pouring out emotions to Him who can keep feelings from driving us. Laying down our fears in the warmth of His perfect love. Confessing our doubt and insecurity (which is such a cruel disguise for pride) at the cross of grace. Recounting all the reasons we should... and all the reasons we can't to the listening ear of the One who writes our faith and knows our story... Repeating often.
In the quiet stillness of our prayer times. In the depths of our hearts beating through our busy everydays. In His Word read and spoken over us. Through peace that inexplicably shows up where worry typically resides. Struck by the awe of an all-powerful God who speaks to His people... He says:
- "You are not alone. Go forward with your Church family."
- "I have called you to simply 'Follow Me'."
- "It's all temporary."
- "Do you truly want Me, or have you made idols out of My blessings?"
- "Insecurity is actually doubting My presence and power combined with your fear of how people perceive you."
- "I, who bless, am greater than the blessings I grant."
- "You are in danger of clinging to the things that are fading."
- "When has it ever been about 'what you want'? There is relief in laying that burden down."
- "My presence, full of joy, hope, love, rest, peace, and growth have been on the other side of every place you didn't want to live. You need not doubt now."
- "Be anxious in nothing. I AM enough for today and will move you to tomorrow."
So faithful to fill our listening ears with His voice.
Heeding those who the Holy Spirit leads to speak into this. Laying down what we think we want at the feet of Him who we know is all we need. Submitting to the plans God gives through those in authority. Waiting in silent heart ache. Visiting the place of ministry. Venting selfish tantrums to God alone. Refusing the worry about the unknown in order to choose the reality that God is responsible for the details... Moving... Leaving... Grieving over the distance, the change, the family we will miss terribly... Grasping hold of the excitement of the adventure. Breathing in the awe that Jesus wants to shine through us in Cleveland to the world. Going...
To see where we'll live. How we'll move. Where the money will come from. What the adjustment will feel like with four little West Virginians in a city. To figure out roles. To meet interns. How we will stay rooted with our church family 5 hours away. For direction on schooling... How we'll actually get from here to there... To see Jesus build His kingdom in and around and through us. For the realization of the promise that we are cracked vessels spilling out the light of life wherever the Creator decides to put us.
We are sowing in tears. These people, this place, His church mean so very much to us... But "we will not offer to the Lord our God offerings that have cost us nothing."
"Those who go out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will surely come back with shouts of joy, carrying sheaves with them." (Psalm 126:6) We tearfully embark on this ministry change fully believing that we will return often to share the harvest with our family in West Virginia.