|Photo by Patricia Lyons|
Several years ago, my home church went through a very painful transition (as many churches, sadly, often do). I was living in DC at the time so was more removed from the situation, but to see my beloved church, a church I’d called mine since I was 2-weeks old, walk through such tumult was incredibly painful.
When I returned home, rather than seeing many of the smiling faces I had become so accustomed to and comfortable with and revel in the life and joy that once poured through, I saw empty pews, a struggling worship band, and an interim pastor. Make no mistake, there was still much life there, but you had to hunt for it.
Often, I would ask my parents, “Come on, guys…what are you doing? I think it’s time to move on. There are so many great churches in the area, why are you STILL here?”
Their answer was always the same, “It’s so tempting to run to something else, but until God gives us something to run to and calls us away, we’re not running away, just because it’s hard.”
Though it’s often tempting, we need to be careful not to run from something, but wait until God gives us something to run to.
In my parents’ case, that day never came. Rather, we watched in disbelief over God’s goodness to bring our church an incredible new pastor with a fresh vision and passion for the church, raised up new leaders within the church community, and brought new families into the church. At times, I may have thought God abandoned our church, but now when I return home, I can’t wait to get back to church. It’s hard for me to put into words just how clearly I’ve seen God’s goodness carry our church through such a hard time, but often, it brings me to tears, because I just can’t believe it. I could go on and on, but to sum up, God moved big time!
And it’s not just the fact that God brought one new pastor to us and all our problems went away; if I’ve learned anything through the highs and lows of one church’s life through the years, it’s that you can’t put all your hopes in one man, because you’ll inevitably be disappointed. It’s the fact that it was easy to feel abandoned and hopeless, but even in the hardest, most lifeless times, God did not leave us.
Walking through this season with my family, I’m beyond grateful for the example my parents set for each of their five children. Rather than listening to the pleas from their children and many friends, they did not run away and they didn’t jump ship. They listened to the Lord, prayed for His insight, and waited patiently to see what God would do. And he DID!
In life, there are lots of times we want to flee when things get hard, painful, or take an abrupt turn. But we need to make sure we’re tapped so tightly into God, that we’re not just running away, but we’re listening and waiting for Him to bring us something that we can run to. Sometimes He will, and other times, He calls us to stay the course, weather the storm, and watch and wait to see what He will do.