I had some ideas for a church-planting post I wanted to write today. I was going to talk about my journey of following God through desperate prayers and waiting on him and starting a church, and how none of that process looked like I thought it was going to. I was going to weave in verses about the Israelites, and how from captivity to the desert, to Canaan, to the kingdom, when they got what they wanted from God, it was never quite what they expected either.
But then I started going through an old journal, one I wrote in during the darkest, most difficult part of our journey into church-planting. Jason and I were just waiting on God to show us what was next for us. We were tired of “church as usual,” and we felt that discontent was from the Lord. We knew he had something new for us in ministry, but we had no idea what it was.
We waited on him for an answer, and then waited some more. And still God was silent. And our hearts were growing ever more restless. Reading the words I wrote brought back all those feelings, and made me glad the Lord finally spoke out the silence and led us to where we are now.
And then I thought about my friend Christine, and the guts it must have taken for her to take the things she felt in the secret places of her own heart, and splash them all over a page, and offer it us church-planting wives so that we might have hope in our own struggles.
So in honor of her courage, I thought that instead of offering you a “testimony” sprinkled with biblical wisdom, hindsight, and plenty of editing, I thought I’d share the raw things I wrote in the midst of my darkest hours:
My journal, July 25, 2010:
I wish I could remember this morning’s message more vividly. But I do remember that as it ended, I was left with two distinct impressions: our work is not done here yet, and great change is on the horizon.
August 14, 2010: If God is calling Jason and I to do something new, something unlike anything we have ever seen before, I don’t want to be guilty of trying to box him in with my preconceived notions about what church should be. I just want him to tell me what he wants.
August 22: I may not be as prepared to sacrifice my comfort as I think. If a few hours without air conditioning makes me melt down, I may not be ready to give up other things.
August 29: I don’t know why I even get out of bed on Sundays.
September 4: I long to have a heart like Moses, who loved his people enough to stand in the gap for them in prayer when God wanted to destroy them. I’m afraid my love is not that great. If God wanted to destroy the people of my church, I would probably let him. Some sweet, gentle pastor’s wife I am, huh?
September 8: Jason called me on his way to staff lunch. He’s having a rough day. So when we got off the phone, I knelt beside the couch and prayed, “Lord, open a door for something to change. We can’t go on like this – change our hearts, or change our church, or lead us to a new place. I will follow you in whatever you do, but please, intervene on our behalf.”
October 6: There isn’t even anything to say anymore. We went to church. We came home. We’ll do it again next week.
October 24: Something is changing, I think. It’s not really something tangible I can point to – something with the church or anything like that. No, something is changing inside us. I don’t even know how to describe it. I feel as if, for the first time in months, as if maybe all this discontentment is actually leading somewhere.
January 30, 2011: It was wonderful to sit through an entire service, this morning, especially getting to hear Jason. I love that man. He’s so good in front of people. I don’t know that we’ll ever be senior pastors of a church, but if we are, I think Jason will be good at it. I don’t know if I’d be good at being a senior pastor’s wife, though.
February 20: After eight months of journeying through frustration, directionlessness, a dry spirit, and waning passion for our ministry, Jason and I feel like we have no better idea of what lies ahead than we did last July. I know I’ve said it a thousand times already, but I have to say it again: we are tired of being in this waiting place. Jason feels that change is around the next corner, and that we’ll be doing something new soon. I feel like the Lord has been completely silent to me.
I can’t believe it’s been almost two years since I penned those words. That spring, Jason and I finally began to receive some direction from God, and by the fall, we were taking concrete steps toward planting a church in Ozark. At the time, I thought the hard part–the waiting, the trusting, the desperation–was over.
But the truth is, it was just beginning. Even though we knew where we were going, we still had to dig down deep to find faith in God when he asked us to do things that were bigger than us. Even though God was giving us victory, we still had to do the hard work of fighting battles. And even though we are living our dream, we still have to be careful to protect it, to cultivate it, and to obey God while we live it. Those things are not easy. But we have learned to depend on God in the midst of them, which might not have happened without all the waiting and staying.
If you’re in a place of waiting, take heart – it won’t last forever. And even if you can’t see it now, I promise, God is doing things in your heart while you wait.
And if you’re a church-planting wife, please do yourself a favor and buy a copy of this book. You won’t be sorry.
I’m linking up with Christine over at Grace Covers Me today as she releases her book, The Church Planting Wife: Help and Hope for Her Heart, and collects heart stories from church planting and ministry wives. Join us?