Monday, March 13, 2017

The Void {A Life Story Part 1}

As we're approaching the one year mark of turning our lives upside down, I've been thinking a lot about the last year. It's also due to the fact that we've made some new friends and have shared our story a few times too - every time I have to verbalize our journey here, I'm struck by another tidbit that I'd forgotten. Funny how that works.

Anyway, like I said, I've been thinking about all the bits and pieces that factored into making the decisions we did, our desires and dreams, the whole purpose of shifting our lives so drastically. And that purpose has really been tugging on my heart because I believe that I misplaced it somewhere along the way to today. Amidst all the stress of packing up our lives in SD, sending Adam off to the Army, figuring out how to live without him, dealing with the headache that is selling a house, readjusting to living with my parents, moving again, and starting a new career (it's a lot, right!?), not to mention the mere minutia of every day living, I forgot why we chose to do all that, the very simple reason for a very complex life adjustment. We wanted to influence lives for Jesus.

If you don't know anything of our history, this time last year Adam and I were working living as youth pastors in South Dakota. We loved our kids, we loved our church, we loved our town and the friends we had there. We wanted to be there long term. But God had different plans for us. Fast forward one year and Adam is in the Army, we live in Kansas, and I am working to become a teacher. As two people who were individually called to ministry, this looks like a dramatic shift in thinking. But hopefully I can explain. Now, from here on out, I'm going to share only my side of the story. Not being in Adam's head, I don't want to speak for him in this place. But I can share specifically what God was doing in my heart.

It started for me when I took a second job. As I only worked part time at the church, we decided I'd get another job to help us try to get ahead a little bit. So, I found a part time gig at a restaurant in town as a hostess. Nothing glamorous at all there, but I quickly found that I really loved it. I enjoyed all the people I got to interact with, coworkers and customers alike. I also quickly realized that I was working with and amidst broken humanity, people in desperate need of the love and grace of Jesus. Having come straight from Bible college and being completely immersed in the church world as I was, I had almost lost sight of that need. Now, I'm not saying that people already in church don't still need God's love and grace in their lives. That's not true. We all need Jesus. (Can I get an "Amen?!") But the desperation, the urgency of those in need of the life and eternity changing Gospel, that is what I had lost sight of. And so, without even realizing it, I was thrust back into "reality", a world where people I knew and cared about, who I interacted with daily, were unloved, uncared for, lost and wandering, dying without knowing Jesus - and that broke my heart. It created in me a sense of desperation and urgency. All of a sudden, I was surrounded by wonderful people who had never heard that God loves them.

A few weeks ago our pastor said something to the effect of "a great vision starts with a great void." He was talking about Nehemiah and how God began the reconstruction of the wall around Jerusalem. Nehemiah's first step in bringing wholeness to his people was seeing the brokenness, recognizing the need. Crazy enough, God used my job as a hostess to show me the need of my community, to let me see the void that so desperately needed to be filled - that there were still people in Watertown, SD, a town with plenty of churches and so many believers, who were hurting and in need of the Gospel AND that I had access to them through the channel of a restaurant hostess. And with that He began to grow in me a new vision for what His ministry might look like in my life.

This was where this upside down, crazy journey into the unknown started for me. Now, of course, there is a good bit more that goes into this story. But who wants to read more than four-five paragraphs at a time? I think I'll wrap it up here for today. We'll make this a series, shall we?

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