I am writing so much in regards to our church planting journey, but I can't help but share. God is doing an amazing work through this process, and it is my prayer that it will encourage and challenge others to step out into all that God has for them! The above picture speaks to my soul. It is a vivid picture of what this journey feels like. The depths of valleys, and yet the heights of the greatest mountains. We ride between them both. The valleys are quite dark and difficult, and yet worth it to reach the height of the mountain when we, for a brief moment, experience the breathtaking vast magnificence of our God. He is surely taking our breath away with His miraculous work.
I am sitting here in the stillness of the early morning dim light. Havyn woke us up predawn as she most often does and I wasn't able to go back to sleep. The fire is going, I have a warm cup of tea and all seems actually quite peaceful. I look up and see this pillow sitting across from me. Peace in bright, glittery bronze letters. I kept it out from Christmas simply because it's too pretty to put away, and well, I need the daily reminder. Christ offers peace.
The question is, will I receive it and live in it?
As I sit here drinking my cup of tea, I am processing the current cash offer for our home sitting on our desk. Did you read that right? YES. Crazy, huh?
Through this entire church planting process, there have been these little moments here and there that could only truly be described as God moments. God intended, appointed, and planned moments. Which are amazing, they bring peace and a soft reminder that whispers, "I am faithful, I am with you".
There have also been loud moments when you literally feel like God sat in front of you and with your life like a puzzle, He made certain things and certain timing all fit nicely together.
For example, anyone who knows us knows our love for Chic-fil-a. We were quite disappointed to find that there was not one located in West Hartford, the closest was 30 minutes away. But when God calls, you know...
Despite our deep love for chicken and fries and playgrounds, ultimately our disappointment came because they are a supportive, Christian partnering organization. There are ways they could have supported or even invested in this mission of building a church. Furthermore, it would have been a great job possibility since we plan to be bi-vocational for a little while.
There were a couple of other crazy dreams we had like hosting services in the restaurant, because why not? They are closed on Sundays. Or just, you know, contacting the corporate office to submit our dream project. They catch the vision, God moves, and they partner. Or, hey, we could start a Chic-fil-a first, and then the rest is history. We have awesome, crazy ideas when know one is looking.
BUT, alas, there was no Chic-fil-a and we have no business trying to open a restaurant. This has been an 8 month conversation, and I looked a thousand times to make sure there was, in fact, no Chic-fil-a. I don't know why, but we just felt there would be some sort of connection to Chic-Fil-a through the church. But how without one there?
I am talking to a sweet lady I met at a ministry training event last weekend. And, lo and behold, she hears where we are planting and states: "Hey, my nephew is opening a Chic-fil-a there in West Hartford on February 9."
Holy cow. I got so excited. I can't fully tell you why or what influence they will have other than a place to help us feel better when we have a rough week, but God is in it somehow. I am certain. The timing of discovery alone felt like a God ordained moment.
And, then, this house. In a crazy, completely uncharacteristic way - I threw our house out there on Zillow. Just to see...
In reality, I felt God lead me to take a leap of faith without having it all ready and just see what would happen. By ready, I mean we had nothing ready. There was no decluttering or cleaning done. Our house wasn't nicely staged. I didn't even have pictures to put up. I posted it For Sale By Owner. We started getting contacted 24 hours later, and we busted our tail ends to get it somewhat clean, slightly decluttered, and presentable.
This entire time, I am doing this because I feel led by God. Prior to this I had had two family friends offer generous helps if we got caught in a transition. One offered to let us stay with them (yeah, our crazy). And the other offered a garage for storage. Both felt an answer to prayer, and we put the options aside for safekeeping.
If you know me, you understand this. I am realist. When I say realist, sometimes I mean fatalist. I don't mean to be that way. It's my temperament, it's my life experiences, it's my thorn in the flesh...either way I deeply struggle with hope. I have faith, but I tend to qualify it or hold it loosely. I trust God, but I also know He allows difficulty. That sort of thing...it's a real struggle I am always working on.
This time, my faith was built. There had been too many things that just seemed to be put together by God himself. I was hopeful that God would work miraculously through our house situation. In fact, it had been a prayer of mine since last year and I truly felt He was going to respond.
10 days went by, and we had one showing pan out and it was the very first contact we had. They had positive feedback, but gave us nothing else. That was Tuesday of this week. My hope began waning by Friday, and by this morning, I was frustrated. That's putting it lightly. Granted, I had been very sick earlier in the week which threw the week and its schedule for me. There were other circumstances contributing, but my main stress this morning was the house. I had really been hopeful, and I felt like many times before, God in the end was doing something differently than what I had thought or prayed for. Now, I know He is sovereign. He has a plan that is trustworthy. He is always looking out for our best interest. I get it. But I was disappointed, and well, I am a hot mess that God regularly has to deal with. Whatever.
I am in the middle of crying out to God, literally crying. I am angry at the world, I feel like everything is falling apart (only slight exaggeration). I am working out my anger and frustration. I am in the middle of trying to process this disappointment and get to the other side of trust no matter what.
Then I get an email notification, and to distract myself from my misery-I look at it.
It's the realtor sending a cash offer from his buyer. (In the end, it became a bidding war between two cash buyers)
We are still in the process of this. We have no long term solution in front of us. There are many things to figure out. (Don't worry, Evangel folks, we are not leaving any earlier) Yet, there is peace that God is guiding this whole thing. And none of it makes sense or even seems practical. We are practical with a capital P. This messes up all kinds of original plans. This is crazy. And, yet, there is peace.
I have known God my entire life. I have followed Christ passionately since I understood anything about a relationship with Christ. But I will never truly understand His purposes and how He works them out. I can't wrap my mind around His plan for us, His plan for this world. The catch, though, is He is faithful. And He is bigger and better than me. His purposes are greater than my eye can see or my mind can comprehend. And even when He has disappointed me, His good was accomplished. Maybe not my good, but His good.
To obey is to surrender. To surrender is to trust. To trust is to love God wholeheartedly and to accept His unreserved, wholehearted love for me. Which ensures my best interest whether or not I like what is in front of me.
Could we have lost our minds and be making the biggest mistake of our lives? Possibly, but I know my God and I know how to hear His voice and in the end I choose to walk in obedient trust understanding to the best of my ability what He is leading us to do. If I misstep or I fail, it won't be for lack of trying or for lack of seeking all things His Kingdom.
There is a lot that happens around us and to us that regularly speaks to the unfaithfulness of people and even of our own unfaithfulness. Nonetheless, as followers of Christ, we must first trust in the faithfulness of our God. (Romans 3:3)
My desire is to grow in my trust and faith, so that I may live in peace always. To be able to say as Abraham - against all hope, I believe. Even when it seems or even actually looks hopeless, I will still believe in the promises and goodness of my God.