When John and I stepped out in faith and decided to plant a church, we began meeting with pastors and leaders to get advice for the journey ahead. One thing we heard over and over again was that church planting would be the greatest thing we’d ever do, but also the hardest thing we’d ever do. We are only a few months into this crazy adventure and I already understand exactly what they meant. I’m no Charles Dickens, but let me just say, church planting is the best of times and the worst of times.
It is the best of times. Every Sunday I am filled with so much joy as I welcome my church family into our humble church. Watching people connect, laugh and build relationships is such a blessing. Children bounce through the hallways, anxious to get to class, and they leave with a smile on their face and Jesus in their heart. As we worship together the Holy Spirit is on the move – the presence is tangible and my soul is at peace. My weeks are filled with coffee meetings, dreaming of the future, planning, preparing, praying and building relationships. Life is beautiful and I am amazed that God chose to use us in this way.
It is also the worst of times. Sunday mornings are always challenging and the list of obstacles we have to overcome before anyone walks through the door is long. It’s spiritual warfare and I’m not a morning person, so, frankly, sometimes I lose the fight. Trying to navigate my own tired kids, sick volunteers, technical difficulties and all the other challenges with a smile on my face and hope in my heart can be exhausting. Then there are people. Bless their hearts. I love them. All of them. However, where there are people there is drama. I’m learning that being a leader means sometimes having hard conversations and making hard decisions. The weight of what God has called us to do is heavier than I imagined. Life is messy, and while I’m amazed that God entrusted this to us, I often feel that it’s up to me to get it right.
The other day I was sorting through my feelings about all of this, trying to unbury myself from the weight of it and in that moment I knew what I needed to do in this season to keep my focus on Jesus. The answer is found in Matthew 16:24 -25:
Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”
The holidays are here. It’s a season of indulgence. Excess. Giving in to the desires of our flesh. The sales are awesome, amazon prime is (way too) convenient and by the end of every December I find myself disappointed, overweight and broke. I don’t want to repeat that pattern this year. My heart just can’t handle that on top of what I am already feeling. So, I’ve decided to take action by applying God’s truth directly to my life: In a season of excess, I’ve decided to deny myself. Each day I am going to intentionally withhold something I enjoy. In its place I will do something that draws me closer to God like pray, read the Bible, journal, worship or even simply rest. I will take up my cross and willingly carry the burdens God has entrusted me with. I will lose my life, because I know it is only then that I can really find it!
You are invited to join me on this journey. There are no guidelines here - I know it will look different for each person, and I also know that the Holy Spirit will lead each of us individually. As He does, I would love hear about how God is working in your life!