Five years ago, God steered John and I from one ministry to another. When I say “steered” I mean, He closed doors on a situation where we had been working to move us somewhere else. It was a painful time as I deeply loved the people we were serving alongside, had poured a lot of energy into the work, and, honestly , I had never experienced that kind of door-closing in a church situation. I felt very alone, empty, like dry bones, and sunk into a depression, the opposite of my true nature. Tears came easy and often.
When I read the New Testament, there are many situations where God closed doors on people as He directed His work. Partnerships went separate ways, the Spirit didn’t allow work into certain regions for a time, persecution tore communities away from each other. All of these were beyond human understanding. In the end, God worked in all areas as He willed and desired for His reasons which are higher than ours, and the gospel and His Kingdom spread. I view our experience in this light knowing now God had to close some doors on us because of how He wanted to direct His work.
We decided to visit a new church just five minutes down the street from where we lived. It was a new beginning for us. We didn’t know anyone at the church except the youth minister who also worked with John and had met with John to pray every Monday in the two years since we moved to Pittsburg, Kansas from Texas. Our sons were approaching “youth group” age, so we thought it would be good to give that program a try. We started attending the church weekly and began to connect with new friends mainly through activities with our children and through an invitation to a small group gathering. The people started opening their lives and hearts to us, and we simply walked in falling deeper in love with them. We began living life beside them. Energy that had been pent up inside us during our dry season was released, and we served wholeheartedly using gifts God had given, and it was sweet. Cup-filling.
Our home became the meeting place for a women’s Bible study group on Wednesday mornings, and the men likewise came on Wednesday evenings for a study/accountability group John helped teach because space was running out at our church building and hey!, we lived just five minutes away (hmmm, convenient. God, you did that, right?!). The two groups were sacred, and I loved everything about hosting them. Yes, even the cleaning. Every Wednesday for years I lit candles, made coffee, organized curriculum for the women to study, baked a treat for the men, arranged chairs, and created an environment. I was working in my zone! I deeply believed in the importance of coming together in a safe place to point one another to the Word, to Christ, to life. I loved showing my boys that THIS is what you do: you gather and become family with the body of Christ. It was all life to me…….full overflowing life.
I’m reflecting on that empty-to-full journey today because yesterday I found myself again feeling like a sack of dry bones with tears flowing easy. God abruptly closed the door on that season almost nine months ago…….so abrupt that we didn’t even have a chance to say good-bye to half our friends who are like family……, and the new door has not opened yet. We are being held in a waiting place, and while it is most uncomfortable, thanksgiving abounds for God’s hand is evident and good. I don’t have any idea what our future will look like, but I know God is waiting for the perfect time to open our new door……
…..and we will walk through……
….and life will come again….
because our God is all about life coming again.
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life,and have it to the full.
See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.