A strategy is so essential in this season of our lives. And, I need to state from the beginning that this is not a strategy from this great mind of mine. No strategy or logic of mine would have led us to the place we are currently in.
And, yet, here we are. The strategy that has marked each step of our journey is beyond any human logic or rationale. Some would say we are crazy. I have said this many times. In fact, I think that was the word one of our neighbor's last week used when we were trying to explain why we moved to the neighborhood, and then why we were planting a church. I said something to the effect that we love God, but I promise we are not crazy. We both laughed, and then he said, No I think you still might be crazy.
It brings me back to this passage that has been foundational since the beginning.
2 Corinthians 5:13-18
"If it seems we are crazy, it is to bring glory to God. And if we are in our right minds, it is for your benefit. 14 Either way, Christ’s love controls us. Since we believe that Christ died for all, we also believe that we have all died to our old life. 15 He died for everyone so that those who receive his new life will no longer live for themselves. Instead, they will live for Christ, who died and was raised for them. 16 So we have stopped evaluating others from a human point of view. At one time we thought of Christ merely from a human point of view. How differently we know him now! 17 This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! 18 And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to himself through Christ. And God has given us this task of reconciling people to him."
It's strategic, but it's a strategy that humankind could never create or understand. It's the strategy of our magnificent God. One who intricately weaves all things together for the great purpose of loving and restoring His creation. He says to obey, we say yes, and then He begins masterly weaving together something exquisite and beautiful out of steps of obedience that at the time didn't seem to add up or line up.
More often than not, He calls us to start walking before He ever gives the road map. He desires that we simply trust and obey. All of our "what if's" and likely scenarios can never truly measure against the plan and purposes of a sovereign God.
When we work feverishly to understand and set in motion the plans or steps HE gave us-I think He gently smiles and shakes His head at our insistence to create our path. The quote was posted from Steven Furtick a few days ago, Our responsibility is to obey, the outcome is God's.
Let go. We believe that each step on this journey of starting a church would be strategic. It would be spiritually and strategically planned and formed by the Master Creator. The One who knows each person we will love and care for as the community of Essence Place grows. He is the One who knows where every dollar will come from to raise up the necessary funds, every person with the right gifts and abilities to help work and serve, the building, EVERY small and large detail needed for this to come together - and it's not so we can have another church in New England. No, it's solely for the purpose that more would know His grace, His greatness, and His ability to restore and redeem.
So, there is a strategy to all of this that is beyond comprehension. So, we pray, we listen, and we wait. When we sense Him leading us, we step forward. Then we release, and we let Him work. The outcome is His responsibility. Always.
There is such a freedom and open-handedness that occurs when surrendered to this process. When you live open-handed saying, "God, as you lead, I will go here, step there-AND I will totally release the outcome." It takes the pressure off immensely and allows God to work in the miraculous, great ways that characterize His hand. And He does work in great ways.
About year ago, as I prayed about our future, I began to feel I should apply for a job at Starbucks. It came from a desire to work in the community, to build relationships with different people groups, and to become connected with others in a different way and different environment. I had pastored and cared for people within the church for years, and I knew God was calling me to do the same but outside of the four walls of the church. Along the way, this desire has grown and evolved to a strong sense that this was another strategic piece to this journey. It went from-"that would be a great way to meet people and learn the community" to "I need to be there and invest in that company and the community around it".
It probably sounds weird to many. But it made perfect sense in my soul and spirit.
But like many other times, my head got in the way. I began to learn about the pay, I thought more about the schedule, I tried to envision myself making drinks and talking at the same time. Yikes. Then my pride and fear crept up. Why would you walk away from your profession/career? Why would you purposefully seek a deep pay cut? How does this make any sense with where you hope to head with pursuing your Master's? How would this ever support your family? Is this schedule realistic?
Needless to say, my fierce logic took center stage.
Yet, every time I went to prayer about it-I felt God draw my attention back. I felt Him whisper, "Do you trust me? Do you provide for your family or do I? Is the outcome yours or mine?"
So, despite all logic-I moved forward. And, throwing caution to the wind-I found myself excited and hopeful. I love Starbucks and love their passion for community and care. Their chai tea latte is an addiction. I felt giddy with the thought of serving people in this capacity. And my heart grew with anticipation to think of all of the people I would have an opportunity to talk with, meet, and hopefully bring encouragement to their day. Even for this introvert, the idea of new coworkers and friends was so exciting.
I still had my doubts about how it would all work IF I even got the job. But, I was choosing to trust.
Long story short, several weeks and an interview later, I got the job offer today. I start in a few weeks. I am nervous as all get out. It's a huge change from what I have done previously and what I am used to, but I know God is in this. He has something great up His sleeve, and I am a willing participant. I have no idea how it will all work. What I do know is that it will all work together. I might be crazy, God's strategy may not be mine. But, it will a fun, crazy and rewarding adventure. I am confident of that.
It doesn't matter, though. What does matter is thatI said yes, and I am letting Him handle the outcome.
Oh, and a little side note of more crazy cool things...Brad had coffee with West Hartford's mayor this morning. But that's another story for another day. :)