Tuesday, February 7, 2017

You rarely know how things will turn out, but...

Denzel Washington starred in the movie "John Q." He was a desperate man on a mission to save his son, despite having no money to pay for the VERY expensive surgery. He faced criminal charges and many other battles, but he didn't give up. One of the people in the movie asked him, "How's it going to end, John?" If you've seen the movie, then you know how it ends. Things worked out for John and his family - despite the consequences he faced for his actions.

Life is a lot like this movie. Things happen beyond our control, and we are faced with tough decisions. As Christ followers, we have the Holy Spirit to guide us and a faith that is based on trust over feelings, and trust in God versus ourselves. This doesn't take away the struggle, though. Have you read the Bible? God's people faced major struggles and circumstances way beyond their abilities, but God was with them, even when all hope seemed lost. God's people were not always given the outcome "details" or the specifics of each step of the journey. They were told to trust, obey, and follow His lead. The same applies to us today.

Ultimately, we know how the "story" of our lives ends because Heaven is our final destination. Jesus overcome the grave and power of sin and darkness. We just have to hold on and be faithful to Him and allow Him to sustain us. In the mean time (or until we leave this world), we are called to share with others the hope we have and be faithful to our calling in Christ. With that said, God will lead us to make hard decisions that may not seem to make sense AND may feel way beyond our capabilities. The outcome is often uncertain, so faith leads us to trust and proceed, one step at a time.

Back in December 2016, I made a decision to resign from my church position only after 5 1/2 months. God led us to that church and we moved 760+ miles from Mississippi to start that journey of ministry. It felt cut way too short and the hurt and disappointment was very real. Regardless, we prayed about it and felt a peace about leaving the church, sadly leaving a group of very loving and supportive people.

The situation seemed illogical. It was three weeks before Christmas. I chose not to sign a legal document that would give me a month's pay. I left in the middle of a pay period and got a week's pay, plus 3 days of unused vacation. We had just gotten back into ministry full time, which was a huge blessing, but were leaving less than 6 months in. We left friends and loving people. The situation was tense and could be seen as a "red flag" to those who didn't know the details of what happened. It would likely take a few months to go through the hiring process at another church. Finances for us were already difficult, so being unemployed with no known full-time job prospects was a bit concerning, to say the least.

So, despite all of that, and many other things, I left the church and trusted that if God led me/my family to make the decision, then He would come through for us. Well, to make a long story short, He has and did. God has continued to amaze me with His grace, mercy, faithfulness, and goodness. Against all odds, God is working things out for good. I am working on a temporary full-time basis with a GREAT church here in St. Pete, while interviewing there for something more permanent. Amy is interviewing for a full-time position at the kids school. Finances, though still difficult, are stable due to making some adjustments (on half our salary). I am feeling energized, refreshed, and lively again as a person - with much growth still to go (not a bad thing - I never want to stop growing and improving). Our family is being shown love and constant encouragement. On and on I could go.

When we stepped out of the church on Dec. 2, 2016, we didn't know how it was going to end, but on faith, we trusted that God knew, and would help us in His time, and His way. The process is not complete, but we are blessed beyond measure. When things get more stable for us, we want to pay it forward and bless others because of the way people have blessed us during this rocky, scary, amazing, and difficult time of our life. We never gave up hope and God never gave up on us. Wow. What a mighty God we serve.

God is continually showing me to trust Him, give up control, be amazed by Him, and stop worrying. It's taken years, but I am GRATEFUL FOR THE LESSONS HE HAS LOVINGLY TAUGHT ME. Pruning is painful, but the fruit is sweet. 

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