Saturday, January 12, 2013

Reflections of the Past Six Months

There are two kinds of people: those who say to God, "Thy will be done," and those to whom God says, "All right, then, have it your way."
 ~C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters, 1943

Also called "This is What Happened When I Did Not Listen to My Lord."

In retrospect, I have come to the conclusion that I just could not fit everything I wanted in my life into...well, my life. What was important to me—what had become too important to me—was apparently not in God's plan and while I was kind of thinking that I needed to drop a few things, I just did not want to do so.

So what happened is I shuffled through is some short-seasoned, all-consuming tasks to help me quit things I liked doing and people were counting on me to do them so I had difficulty with the idea of quitting.

In August I had been asked to become the praise and worship leader of my church. I felt the right way to do this was through much time spent in prayer and listening to music. I would prepare lyrics and chose from a growing assortment of music videos, CDs, and MP3 downloads to place on a thumb drive to upload to the church media computer. It was a very time consuming task and within just a few weeks, I knew that I would have to quit taking care of the horses and barn on Tuesday mornings. I quit the barn just three months ago, but it seems like a year already. Oddly, I had felt for several weeks before that I should quit the barn, but there was that thing of not wanting to quit anything, so I realize now that my Lord made it so I had to do so.

Within a couple of weeks of quitting the horse barn, my husband bought me a new laptop computer. I cannot tell you how much I have wanted a new computer but it was not until I was preparing the praise and worship services that I really needed one. However, setting up a new computer with the programs I use and transferring data was another time consuming thing to do just as the holidays approach!

Still, I tried focusing on the praise and worship services and homeschooling until Thanksgiving. I usually do not have the Princess do much homeschool seatwork from the week of Thansgiving until after the New Year. There are other things for her to learn and do. For instance, since she was quite young she has been designing the Christmas cards every year. We print them out in full color with a nice greeting in each. She has been able to address envelopes since she was quite young also, but I do the Christmas card envelopes and she does the addressing of her own thank-you cards.

We also have lots of extra baking and social events, but for the last two months we have not been to any of the 4-H events and that would be because I was still too overloaded emotionally to fit in anything. The Princess said she wanted to continue with 4-H, but she was not asking about it. I began thinking it is likely that was something else of which we needed to let go.

Princess is also preparing for the annual judging for piano. If she gets five points this time, she will get a trophy...and she really wants that trophy. The child is so capable at this point, she can do anything but the attitude is of a tween and most of the tween attitude is toward me. Considering that I have been on the edge emotionally and rather busy, we both needed some quality, quantity, together time just being mama and daughter, which we did more so after Christmas.

I was really looking forward to preparing the praise and worship service during advent, but by mid December I was hating it. You know that I rarely use the word hate so that it has the weight that it should have. What made me hate it was a combination of things. I felt the Lord's leading to prepare my church, the members in particular, for younger newcomers and children, however opposition was voiced repeatedly. It was just one email now and then, but the sentiments were obvious during church service as well and constantly weighed on me.

After breaking out in hives, having anxiety issues with a few panic attacks to boot, and some scary things happening with my vision, I was praying quite a bit, but I really did not welcome either answer my Lord could give me. Either I would feel trapped or like a deserter, so I prayed but at the same time I would close my heart to His answer. Now as a parent, I have experienced the flip side with my own daughter and it is very frustrating; at some point I would just not bother to answer and let her stumble around until she was finally ready to use the advice I prepared to give her. Likewise, I think God let me stumble around while my health issues increased, because He knew these would get my attention and break me down to be willing to accept His will.

My husband and I felt that the vote regarding a name change for the church would be the last test indicator of whether the church really wanted to change. The vote was taken on December 23rd and that evening an email was sent out with the results: 3/5 against. We knew then it was very likely that the Christmas Eve Service would be our last. It was not, though. We led last week, the first Sunday of the new year, but it was our last.

We had already decided before Christmas that we would take the last Sunday of the year off—actually, my husband insisted. The week of Christmas was relaxing. My husband was on vacation time and without having to prepare for the next service I was able to decompress. That is when I really came to terms with how bad my anxiety had really become by comparison. With a clearer mind and a broken heart, I was finally able to listen to what the Lord had been telling me and I began writing our resignation letter.

We are leaving the church we have attended for four years. I do not know where we are being led to at this time, but I do know that we are being told to leave this one. On Wednesday, my husband informed the man who has been leading the church so they would have time to prepare the service on Sunday and he plans to go to the board meeting to read our resignation letter and hand in his key. I am not certain if he further edited the letter, as he thinks the reasons should be left out and only given to those who ask, but here was my final draft of it:

Our friends and family in Christ, we wish to thank you all for the opportunity to serve as board members and on the praise and worship team. Each of you has been a special blessing to us. It is with both deep sadness in our hearts and anticipation in serving our Lord in a new capacity that we are asking for you to accept our resignations from all our positions, including membership.

We have been prayerful, cautious, and patient in determining God's leading in this, because we felt such a burden knowing how our parting would affect the future of this church and our relationship with you. We wish to thank you all for being of service to God in making His will clearly known to us when we were stubborn in not accepting His leading. So that there is no speculation or misunderstanding, we wish to be completely open and truthful about how God has shown us that we are now to change the direction of our service for Him. We welcome you to ask us questions directly to us should this letter leave unanswered ones.

It was not through any one particular sign but through several small ones over a long period of time, but we will share the three that indicated to us without doubt that the Lord wants us to make this change at this time.

We have heard members say for years that we need to do some things different because what we have been doing is not working, yet whenever changes were introduced at the board meetings, they rarely went beyond discussion. Recently, comments regarding the website symbolized this continued resistance to change or recognizing the need to change to fulfill God's purpose for the church.

While we were in prayer and preparation for each praise and worship service, we were met with opposition, as expected with any major change. However, accompanying it was increasing depression and anxiety for Linda. Still, we felt the Holy Spirit leading us to introduce contemporary Christian music to help all church members come to appreciate what is the most appealing to younger newcomers and our own children. We were amazed how the Holy Spirit confirmed through the flow of each service that we were doing as the Lord wished. However, we were also amazed that this was not growing into welcomed change and the tension went beyond a spiritual and emotional struggle to a physical one when Linda began to break out in hives and experience other uncommon health issues. It has been confirmed through words from the Lord coming from trusted intercessors and prayer partners that the physical issues were allowed to bring us to this decision to follow the Lord as He was leading us away from the church.

The vote declining the church name change was another sign to us. The name change was probably not going to put the church on the map, but it would have served as an inspiration to focus us in the pursuit of attracting the lost souls from outside of our church. We prayed about this and felt that a majority "no" vote would only confirm that the church as a whole would not be focusing on its God-given mission to reach the unsaved. It was the final confirmation for us.

We feel that you all wish to serve God, but the church as a whole has been hampered in fulfilling its stated mission of "reaching up and reaching out." We were hopeful when the church participated in the 40-day fast two years ago and we witnessed the Holy Spirit moving powerfully in the personal lives of a few...because we did something very different and earnestly sought the Lord! For us, that fast was the one of the most spiritually awakening experiences of our lives and it profoundly changed us. It made us keenly aware that we have desired to have heightened spiritual walk with God, sharing in the gifts of the Holy Spirit with believers who desire the same and are willing to act on faith in agreement with the Lord, because the End Times are fast approaching.

We feel we have not just been released from our service here, but have been told to leave by our Lord. We finally recognize that the Lord has been very patient with the church when we have resisted focusing on the mission He wanted for us and we personally accept the blame that we were part of the problem, asking your forgiveness as well as from our Lord.

We will miss worshiping with you all very much and will keep you close in our hearts and prayers. Please know that you are welcomed to call, email, and come by anytime.

I will be passing on the website information so they can work on it, but it is formatted and done as far as I can go without the content and images for which we asked.

So now my life has been completely decluttered and prepared for whatever my Lord wishes us to do next. For now, I will be focusing on my health, home, family, and listening better to my Lord so we go where we are supposed to be.


~ My Lord, I truly do have a special place in my heart for each of the members so leaving is a difficult thing to do, but it is my greatest desire to follow where You lead and be of service to You in bringing the unsaved to know You. Please make your will known in regards to the future of the church and for each individual there. Help me to keep my heart always open to You, my Lord. ~

1 comment:

  1. Love. Prayers. I will email again, perhaps later today. This is when I hate the distance ~ thogh prayer makes no distance. lol ♥

    ReplyDelete

Thank you fellow travelers for walking and talking with me along this journey.