When I finally see Jesus, there are a few thing I won’t say.
I won’t say my life was boring.
I won’t say I didn’t take risks.
I won’t say it was easy.
I won’t say I’d like like to do it all over again.
But, there are a few things I will say.
I will say that he never left me or forsook me.
I will say that I felt His consuming love for me more times than I can count.
I will say thank you for the adventure.
I will say that, if He asked me to, I’d do it all over again.
Truly from the very first moment I surrendered myself to His plan for me, I have been in a state of perpetual change. This is significant in that change is scary for me. At least, the change that He always asks of me. You know, that change that I am cannot control. You’ve been there? I’m in good company then.
Here’s a quick list, if you’re curious.
- August 1995: Got serious about Jesus. I told Him wherever he led me, I’d go. This required a complete lifestyle change. I lost every friend I had. He brought new friends.
- August 1996: College freshmen. My career path was being brought into question by Him. I had a plan. He had a different plan. I thought I’d be a famous clarinetist, or teach at a college, or… But, full-time ministry? Yikes.
- Summer 1997: My first full-time summer ministry position. It.was.hard. My cute dreams of ‘church work is sweet and fulfilling and rewarding and…’ were interrupted by ‘people are messy and needy and hard to deal with and…’
- August 1997: Barry and I began dating. Perhaps it was his life that was changed.*ahem*
- Summer 1998: My second full-time summer ministry position… at a different place. People were still mess and needy and hard to deal with, but now I was tired and cranky and wondering why God brought me here. For 13 weeks, I labored and learned to follow God with a glad heart in the place He had me. I also adopted a new phrase, ‘I can do anything for 13 weeks.’
- May 1999: Married! We began our married life ministry together. Barry was on staff at Wesley Foundation. I was finishing school and volunteering at Wesley Foundation. All that would soon change…
- Fall 1999: Barry receives a call from Heritage UMC in Van Buren asking if he’d be interested in being their youth pastor. He says no. That was it…. no.January 2000: Barry seeks the Lord, prays, reconsiders. He will be the new youth pastor at Heritage UMC in May. Our first big move.
- March 2004: Youth ministry is growing like crazy. We’re about to have our first child. Things are great. Barry gets that familiar urging from the Lord. This time, it’s to start a second campus of Heritage. Something new. Something in a different location. So, we do it. It really should have flopped. It didn’t.
- June 2007: Mt Olive has plateaued. It’s not going well. We begin to think we are wasting our time and God’s resources. We consider quitting and shutting it down. God says to continue. We do not feel that release and we are angry. But, we don’t stop. In August, our second child is born.
- 2008, 2009: Mt Olive begins to grow like crazy. We’re shocked. It’s become apparent that we will soon outgrown our space in that one-room sanctuary. What do we do now, Lord?
- 2010: The new location for Mt Olive church is found and purchased. The l-o-n-g renovation process begins. No one ever wants to see a paint can again… ever.
- Spring 2011: Our first worship gathering at the *new* Mt Olive. We can rest, we think.
- Summer 2011: That old familiar urging of the Lord begins in Barry’s heart again. This time, it is more dangerous than ever, at least by human standards. He asks us to leave the UMC, who has been so good to us. In obedience, we agree. The Lord does not give us a timeline however. We are only to pray and watch. We remind the Lord that we just renovated a building. He remembers.
- 2011-2012: The church again grows like crazy. People come to know Jesus. People get serious about their relationship. God is moving everywhere we turn. He continues to remind us that we are leaving. Finally, He reveals the time.
- January 20, 2013: Our last Sunday as Mt Olive Church.
- Our first moment as Momentum Church.
It would make sense that after all of the familiar urging of the Father, we would become accustomed to His unfailing provision. It would stand to reason that after all of this, we would know beyond a shadow of a doubt that He will never leave us. But, I can tell you, that each time He has said ‘Now go this way’ we have been put in the same place. It’s that place that feels like a newborn calf: wobbly, uncertain, curious. It’s that place of ‘if you don’t do this God, it’s over!’ It’s that place of ‘please, please don’t leave us!’ But, it’s also that place of ‘I will follow You alone, no matter what You ask.’ For me, I am instantly taken back to the first time I say ‘yes’ to Him. I was completely afraid and overwhelmed. I am flooded with new joy that come straight from His hand. It’s what David said in Psalms 51:12–
Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.
So again, I’ll say ‘Yes’ to Him. We move forward with Momentum.
Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.