Part 18 of a Blog Series Called “How Did We Get Here?” (click here to go to the beginning), the Story of How I was Called to Start Life Mission Church and What Got Us to Where We are Today.
Within a matter of just a day or so, God was indeed building this church. He brought unlikely people to fill big roles. He brought diverse people to fill specific roles. It was incredible, and it was crazy exciting. For me, it was such a testimony of seeing God’s faithfulness and ability to move in our life in ways we didn’t expect. I was second guessing my decision to not attempt any recruiting or inviting. My biggest fear, to be honest, was that my friends would think that I didn’t care about them or care to have them join us because I didn’t ask them. It was tough, because everything in me wanted to invite people to join us, because I’d made lots of really, really incredible friends over the years.
But I just prayed and hoped that God would simply draw those whom He had in mind. I knew I didn’t need to try and sway anyone or coax anyone. I wanted the Lord to do that part. And He did.
From kids’ ministry to video, graphic arts, greeting team, musicians, small group leaders, administrators, and even an accountant, God was putting together this incredibly diverse team of incredible people. And lots of people I just didn’t expect, which was my favorite part. The whole week had absolutely been beyond anything I could possibly do in my own strength, ability, or influence. It simply was taking shape so perfectly.
Finally, on October 19th, we had our first “post-announcement” meeting, and from that point on, we met every Sunday night officially as the Life Mission Launch Team. This core group of excited, ready-to-jump-in, faith-filled were coming together for great nights of prayer, worship, and getting immersed in the vision that God has called us to do. We kept moving from one house to a bigger house as each week grew. From the first night at my house, to the Garcia home, and then finally the Jobin home, which is two doors down from us so we could do childcare there, the momentum, unity, and excitement was building.
But it sure didn’t lack any speed bumps though. I told the group even at the first meeting to expect lots and lots and lots of warfare in any and every form or fashion. There would be doubt, there would be fear, there would be gossip, there would be rumors, there would be awkwardness, there would be financial tests, there would be all kinds of fun stuff. And there was. And some retracted amid that. And in all of it, I knew that God was using every last bit of it so that He could build His church. This was not going to be, and it never will be, my church.
For me, this season was absolutely brutal. The doubt, fear, loneliness, second guessing, pain, hurt, and anguish became unbearable at times. It was coming from all angles. At one of my lowest points, I once was even at a party with my wife at our friends’ home and I had to secretly leave the party to go hide and cry. I kept it hidden that night, even from my wife, but I confessed to her on the car ride home that I didn’t think I could do this, that I didn’t think it could possibly be worth it. It became too much to bear, and I didn’t think I had it in me to survive.
But the fact of the matter is that this is absolutely true. I don’t have it in me to survive. But what I do know, is that His grace is sufficient for me, and I know that God’s power will be made perfect in my weakness. I do know that I can do “all things through Christ who gives me strength.” I do know that God uses the foolish to confound the wise, He uses the weak to shame the strong, that He doesn’t look upon the outside, but the inside, that He will uphold me with His righteous right hand, and that He has already prepared beforehand for me all the good works that He created me to walk in. And those are just a few of the promises that His Word was reminding me of.
And really, that’s all I’ve got. Nothing more. Nothing but faith that God’s Word is true, and that it’s His truth that I can stand on. Nut just believe, but really stand on.
And so we kept going. Despite the hardships, I thought about the people that God was calling Katie and I to be with; I pictured their faces in my mind, even faceless people in our unknown future, and I knew that this was my new “immediate family.” These were the people that God called us to, and I knew, because He was the One building it, that it was the right people, the right time, and the right call.
None of that makes the hardship go away, but it makes the hardship easier to face. After all, the Good Shepherd promised to walk with me through the Valley of the Shadow of Death. He didn’t say He would meet me on the other side, and nor did He say He would walk me around it. But through it.
He’s not just a good shepherd, but the Good Shepherd. And that’s why I am content letting Him build His church His way by His Word.
When is the last time you recall God doing the unexpected? Here’s my guess…if you can’t think of something, my natural response would be to say “it’s because you haven’t stepped out in big faith lately.” But that just simply isn’t accurate. Chances are, you just simply aren’t noticing God’s hand in your life. Let me put it this way, you and I deserve one thing and one thing only: separation from God because of our sin. We deserve His punishment, just as Adam and Eve did. But like with Adam and Eve, God did the unexpected: He had grace and mercy. Today, the very air you breath is an unexpected gift of God. You don’t deserve it, but He lovingly gives it to you. I get to hang out with my two boys today. As a sinful man, I’m amazed that God gives me this most unexpected and undeserved gift. Start seeing the “good and perfect gifts” in your life as unexpected, and undeserved gifts from your Father. It will change your heart on a daily basis.
The Last of the Launch Team: A new story begins…