it has taken three months, but in the last week i could almost literally feel myself turning the corner in my transition to alabama. there have been many sweet ah-ha moments sprinkled in between what i felt was my constant state of cluelessness, but when i walked home from church last wednesday, i experienced a bend in my journey that plastered a smile across my face. i believe i would have sat right there and celebrated had it not happened right in the middle of the road. 🙂
i would have considered myself someone that “loves change”, but when the rubber met the road this summer i saw things in me that were surprising, disappointing, and in need of being challenged. i have failed miserably at some and faced others head on, all while growing stronger and more dependent on God as my guide.
now let’s don’t get all crazy. i still use my gps to get most places and have almost caused quite a few wrecks because i am gawking at the beautiful birmingham scenery or nearly missing a turn. i still have many places, names, and sweet faces to learn. there are also many stories to hear and history in relationships to be developed. i am learning the key to transition is time and i realized i was beginning to embrace this truth when without thinking last week i referenced my little yellow house in homewood as “home.”
for 13 years i have stood on the safe side of change and talked to group after group of 6th graders that were entering a pivotal point of transition in their lives. tonight is different. tonight i stand before a group of kids that i’ve shared 95% of their children’s ministry time with, but left two and a half months shy of their 6th grade graduation. tonight as i speak to them about their new season in life, i stand waist deep in mine. tonight, i am not full of answers, quick fixes, perky cliches, or empty promises. the only thing i am full of tonight is peace.
tonight as i share, i don’t want to recount the past or even dwell on this colorful cast of characters. what i can share with them tonight is that no matter what is written in the next chapter of their stories, if their Salvation is in Christ each stroke is written by a mighty Author.
when they begin to experience that change is hard, they can know that the One who holds the pen has a strong, secure hand.
Hebrews 6: 18-19 “God did this so that, by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled to take hold of the hope set before us may be greatly encouraged. We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain,”
Isaiah 41:10 “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
when they start to feel alone in the newness, i can assure them of a Savior that will never leave them or forsake them. (whether it “feels” like it at the time or not.)
Hebrews 13:5 “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”
when their new adventure begins to take them to new heights that can often be scary, i can remind them that their Creator is the strength in their feet.
Habakuk 3:19 “The Sovereign LORD is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to go on the heights.”
when the world seems to win and they become weary, i can remind them our God is faithful to give them a safe place to rest.
Matthew 11:28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”
in a world full of faces causing them to just long to be known, i can confidently say their Creator knows them better than they know themselves.
Psalm 138:13-16 “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.”
and when it all may feel like it is not worth it, the snares are many, and the goal line distant, i can challenge us all to continue the fight. because, when we see Jesus, this vapored life will be a no more.
Hebrews 12:1- 3 “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”
we all have a story, and it is in the time of transition i believe we are tested to see the level of our trust. may we each seek to become less, so that the Author of Life, Jesus Christ receives all the glory. oh how i want a story worth sharing even between chapters.
at first glance it may not make much sense to put pictures of my new office in my blog entitled “clean slate.” well, in my head it makes perfect sense. you see, i am highly visual and i am a slow learner. so i knew if i was going to make the most of this new ministry adventure God has given me, i would have to give myself a daily reminder.
i believe a fresh start in ministry is a precious gift and i want to come face to face with this truth each day. so, the extremist in me went from bright blue, glitter covered walls with a red velvet couch to an office that is, well, white. i simply couldn’t conceive a better palette to scream clean start to myself each day.
here are just some of the things i hope and pray these surroundings remind me of each day:
– have no agenda other than God’s agenda – this new ministry is not the 2.0 version of the last ministry – dream fresh, God-sized dreams – my way is not always the best way, try something new – learn and grow from past failures and conflicts, but don’t let them mar the new ministry
– it takes time to fill a blank canvas – be patient and purposed with each stroke
the other important piece to my new office was one of the scriptures God used in calling me to dawson. (pictured left) ephesians 3:20-21,“now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! amen.” i believe it is when i get out of the way and abandon myself to His vision and dreams, i can experience the Creator’s abundantly more!
the last few months have been filled with tremors of transition, impending change, and absolute uncertainty. (absolute uncertainty, that’s like an oxymoron isn’t it?) i am in awe as i recount daily how my God has been faithful each and every step, but i would be lying if i didn’t confess that my flesh cries out (also daily), “it is just easier to stay.”
why wouldn’t it be easier? i have been planted in a great town for 20 years, served in a church i love for 15 years, and have a far greater group of friends and godly influences than i deserve. yep, i am comfortable here. i know this place. although this season in life has been far from perfect, it has become familiar. no wonder my flesh begs me to stay where i am all too often complacent. my worldly self is so tempted to settle, but my Spirit is eager to soar.
on the morning of my last Sunday at belle aire, God was perfectly personal to send me a devotional through email that was of great comfort and timely encouragement. (read that devotional here.) it is through the imperfect, yet faithful life of abraham i am reminded that sometimes we have to leave to receive.
with each day’s goodbyes i learn that leaving is simply letting go. it means that with each step forward the ground that once felt secure and certain gives way to uncharted territory and adventure only the Author of Life could write. leaving means not knowing what all the future holds, but trusting the One who holds it in His hands.
surely i can’t be alone in facing the fight of wanting to stay or leave. for me, leaving is literally packing boxes and memories from such a precious season in life and moving to a new town, a new church, and new friends. what about you, what is God asking you to leave?
is it a habit that crept in slowly, but has you quickly moving further from Him?
is is a sin that seems small and insignificant? maybe it is something no one notices but you and God, but you sense you need to agree about the stronghold and release it to Him?
maybe it is an attitude, an action, desire that you are holding on to more tightly than His hand and He is urging you to lay it down?
or maybe you are like me. He has clearly spoken to you through His Word to go and your act of obedience is to just take the next step.
lately my mind is flooded with the visual of open palms ready to release the past and receive the future God has planned. just think about all that abraham would have missed if He would have settled for staying. sure, it may be easier to stay, but how will i ever truly walk in faith if i waiver in indecision? God said go. so with trembling steps, an expectant outlook, a heart filled with bittersweet goodbyes, and eyes fixed on Him i step forward. oh, how i find comfort in knowing the One who walks on water will walk faithfully with me during this new season.