Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.(Ephesians 3:20-21)
Above and beyond, unimaginable, beyond the stars, immeasurably… For us it would be a hyperbole, but for God it is the norm. For us it is impossibility; for God it is simplicity. For us it is beyond our wildest imagination, for God it is all he imagines. For us it is inconceivable, for God it is all in a days work. For us it is unthinkable, for God it is just a thought. For us it is unheard of, for God it is seeing and believing.
This passage is a favorite for our family’s lives for sure. We have seen Him do the unimaginable time and time again. It was the theme verse God gave us as we joined hearts and hands with the people known as Harvest Church in Fort Worth, Texas in 2000 on this very day of January 16 years ago. He continued to use it as we stood shoulder to shoulder with this broken and bruised body of Christ, which God entrusted us to shepherd. We all stood in amazement as we saw God do one miracle after another to redeem a church that had been abused and wounded by their former pastor.
I believe every journey we take in our lives is amazing and we have loved every step … but so far, this particular journey (that lasted almost a decade) was our horse of different color. Strangely, it wasn’t just the people of Harvest who were broken. Our family was also in a place of depletion and confusion. We always ask why when things don’t turn out the way we expected. Was God unfaithful? Were we mistaken? In 1998 we left everything we loved, church, home, family and friends because we had surrendered to go overseas for missions. But in a strange twist of events, God soon brought us back. We were also broken. We held on to nothing … but God soon gave us back everything, and exceedingly abundantly more.
When your life doesn’t go the way you thought it would, you have a choice to make. You can walk away from it all, or you can stay and fight. We did the latter. Spiritually attacked and wounded, we hunkered low and close to Jesus. We knew he was our only hope of survival. God miraculously gave us a people to minister to as they also ministered to us. We bound up each other’s wounds and slowly began to heal together.
People asked us why we would even consider going to a church that had such public problems. My response to them was another question — why wouldn’t we? They need us and we need them. God has called us and we are going. We found our strength was their weakness. My husband is an amazing man of character and deeply rooted with integrity, it is his heritage. The blessing of our marriage and ministry was how God had grafted us together heart and soul to the death. God knew what we needed, and He knew the leader He was preparing for this time in the history of this particular church. They thought God was using us to rescue them, but I don’t think they realized how much God, simultaneously, was using them to rescue us.
People said it couldn’t be done, but God said I’m already doing it. People said it was too much to overcome, God said I have already overcome the world. People said you’ll never make it, but God said we already have. People said just give up, but God said He would never leave or forsake us.
Why? I have learned that the “whys” we throw at God don’t actually matter as much as the response we give Him when he asks us to follow. We ask why and He says, don’t worry about it. I’m resolved to let Him give me all the answers to this quiz called life when I meet Him face to face. I don’t need to know any of that now — which is a good thing — cause we won’t. Why did He take us away from these people we had been deep in the foxholes with? I was literally brokenhearted and unresolved. No matter how I looked at it, the fact remained that He did. I didn’t want to go — to leave my home, family and friends again — No. A song came to mind as I wrestled with God over this. Driving through Texas to Oklahoma, crossing over my life’s roots that seemed more like speed bumps this trip, I went to see our kids in college and as this song played these words ministered to my spirit.
“I Don’t Want To Go” (by Avalon)
You changed my world
When You came to me.
You drove a passion,
In my soul down deep,
Lord, to follow You in everything.
I don’t want to go somewhere
If I know that You’re not there,
‘Cause I know that me without You is a lie.
And I don’t want to walk that road,
Be a million miles from home,
Cause my heart needs to be where You are.
So I don’t want to go.
So come whatever,
I’ll stick with You.
I’ll walk, You’ll lead me,
Call me crazy or a fool,
For forever I promise You
Cause my heart needs to be
where You are.
So I don’t want to go
Without Your touch,
Without Your love
Filling me like an ocean.
For Your grace is enough,
Enough for me.
Never want to go somewhere
If I know that You’re not there.
I realized the other side of that proclamation had to be “I don’t want to stay somewhere if you’re (God’s) not there.” God was still at work there but He asked us go somewhere else. March of 2009 I followed my husband to accept the call as the senior pastor in the church he grew up in — Severns Valley Baptist Church in Elizabethtown, Kentucky. Unexpectedly, God steps into our lives and makes adjustments. Sometimes they make sense and sometimes they don’t. Our job is to obediently follow. This March we will have been in Kentucky for 7 years! It is another future blog or two to share all the miracles that God has done in our lives and the lives of our family that are exceedingly and abundantly more than all we could have imagined –We love the people of SV dearly and can’t imagine our lives without them.
I feel so extremely lucky to have gotten to know and love people for 57 years from all over the world by following God around. Oh the people God has graced my life with, simply because I’ve surrendered — even sometimes wrestled with God but finally answered Him, “Yes, I’ll go wherever you lead me,” “You have always been and will always be faithful to me.” “ I trust you completely with everything I hold dear.” Who in the world do I think I am to presume that I know better than God? To tell God “No, I won’t go” shakes me to the bone even as I write this.
I can’t even imagine my life without every single soul from every precious church we’ve served in, including all the people from the churches my father pastored. People I know and love to this day that have woven and continue to weave the tapestry of my life — from many towns in my birth state of Oklahoma, through Texas and California, and even into France and now Kentucky. It is so beautiful and wildly colorful because of these people. I’m humbled He gave me these people because I said yes.
You are all Gods gift to me!
After a lifetime in fulltime ministry I’ve found the frustration can be after we leave. Painful even…we have to let go of one church we love in order to join hands with another church God has asked us to love. This is a very hard thing to do from either end for everyone. To leave the ministry we have had and start somewhere new requires faith. What will happen after we leave? Sometimes it turns out great for everyone and other times it breaks our hearts. Regardless, the truth is, we are only responsible for our leg of the race. That’s all we can answer for. We are to run with endurance the race in the high calling of Christ Jesus for such a time as this. God has the whole course worked out- we only see a portion but He sees the whole. We may think the story is over but it isn’t, we just can’t see the rest of the story. We don’t have to understand, we just have to remain faithful in the part we are asked to play. No more no less. It is His church it was never ours. He’s got it.
Don’t ever settle for your own dreams, they are finite. See what Gods dreams are for you- because they are infinite….exceedingly abundantly more! Praise God for our “Horse of a Different Color”…I deeply love you.