Tuesday, March 3, 2009

A Glimpse Into My Journey

I often wonder why I am here, what my mission in life is.

After DH graduated from school, we planned on him getting a job in the southern state where the rest of our family was already living. But after sending out resumes to firms in the south, DH felt impressed that maybe he should investigate firms in his hometown in the northwest. Together, after much praying and asking for signs (of course, we asked for signs...or at least I did...I mean, come on, the northwest?), we decided to "step out in faith" and follow what we felt like was God's leading.  And we still feel like God lead us there.

However...

Since I grew up in the Bible-belt and had a Southern Baptist evangelical background for 27 or so years, I just figured this was some kind of mission trip. Of course, since I knew all the "right" answers, the do's and don'ts, how to pray, how to lead worship and sing in choir, how to read and "study" the Bible, then I was probably being sent up there to the northwest for God to use me in some way to minister for Him.

So we got involved in a small Baptist church as soon as we arrived. There aren't many Baptist churches in the northwest so I thought, ah-ha, there was my mission, to help grow a little church. I sang in the choir, then I sang with the praise team, I lead vacation bible school music, I played the piano and led the praise team for almost a year, I put my two cents into numerous Bible studies and Sunday schools, I taught preschool Sunday school...heck, I was busy for God...I was doing "His Will".  And I felt ok about everything, but not real excited about any of it. I'm a Christian, so I'm obligated to serve in the church, and if I don't enjoy it, then that is my cross to bear, right? But then...

Some friends of ours gave us the opportunity to help start a church. It was going to be a non-denominational church with the purpose of reaching out to the un-churched. So I figured, ah-ha, this must be where it has all been leading. God wants us to help lead and finance a new church that will really make a difference in people. That must be the "mission" and reason why we are here in the northwest.

So, again, I sang with the praise team, I led Bible studies, I taught children's Sunday school, I brought food to potlucks, etc. But none of it seemed fulfilling. I thought, if I were doing "God's Will", shouldn't I at least enjoy it, shouldn't I kinda look forward and not dread it, shouldn't I at least have some kind of contentment?

So we left the church. And we church hopped. Soon, we decided we just needed to find a church where they would be scripturally fed and take a break from all the "serving".

We tried the Episcopal church that DH's grandpa attended. It was great for a transition time. Our kids liked the church school, and they enjoyed getting to go to church with another family member and getting to take communion every Sunday, but we didn't feel like they were getting spiritually fed at this particular church.

Then we tried a Catholic church (our kids go to a Catholic school, and I was already attending a scripture study at one of the Catholic churches). We liked it ok there too. I knew people, the homilies (sermons) were fine, but, in the end, we didn't feel like it was the place for us at this time either.

So we tried some other churches and finally found a little church located within a small neighborhood. It was a four square church which we had no idea what that was (we had to google it, and, fortunately, nothing seemed too foreign about it). But for about 2-3 months, I cried every Sunday through the whole service.  It got to the point that when we arrived, I just automatically grabbed a handful of tissues from the back. The pastor was talking to us. And it was like God was talking to us.  Finally, I was looking forward to attending church again. And I didn't know anyone. And I didn't want to know anyone. And I didn't feel compelled to get involved or do anything but just attend church and, well, cry. And God gave me rest.

And...

He revealed something to me through all this. Partly through the scripture study at the Catholic church and partly through attending this church and a subsequent women's retreat I went to with the church during the summer. God did not bring me there to the northwest to do anything for Him.  He brought me there to show me what He wants to do for me. He wants to give me freedom, rest, peace, contentment, love, fearlessness, joy. And, huh...who would of thought, once I decided to just sit back and receive it, I wanted to give too.

But it was with a different perspective. It was not what I could do for Him, or what I felt obligated to do because I'm a "Christian", or what I thought people expected me to do. But it was more about paying attention to what I was receiving from Him through any service or actions. Recognizing that He's the giver.

I realize I'm moving more and more outside my little Southern Baptist box, and I hope with God's grace that I can continue to see the bigger picture from His perspective. I want to see the "church" as the body of Christ that it is, not the little divisions of hands here and feet over there that we humans have made it.

And the journey goes on...

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