Time is filled with swift transition, Naught of earth unmoved can stand, Build your hopes on things eternal, Hold to God’s unchanging hand. Refrain: Hold to God’s unchanging hand, Hold to God’s unchanging hand; Build your hopes on things eternal, Hold to God’s unchanging hand. Trust in Him who will not leave you, Whatsoever years may bring, If by earthly friends forsaken Still more closely to Him cling.
"Hold to God's Unchanging Hand"
Jeannie Wilson - 1906
Sometimes along this journey of Christian life, surrendering your all to Jesus looks a whole lot different than anything you could have ever imagined. Sometimes there are challenges that you never expected, often there are tests and trials that seem impossible to pass, and then after all that you can be led to a chasm to which there is no visible other side.
Over the next few weeks, I'll be sharing my latest leap of faith, my crossing of the never ending chasm, the great gulf of uncertainty, all in the name of faith, ministry and a love for the Body of Christ that wouldn't let me rest without heeding the call.
Step 1: The decision.
I'd been asked over and over to move to another state to lead worship for a church plant. My friends in ministry were doing some amazing things and although I was a voluntary fixture in that revival of young people completely pouring their lives out to God, I never thought twice about permanently relocating. I would be leaving my family and friends, my career and most importantly my church home. It was the place that I was able to walk in my calling, grow other leaders and have just enough responsibility to not feel stretched or uncomfortable. I was happy. Everything was easy, familiar and within close reach. I didn't have to go far to get to everything I could ever want. And I think that was the primary problem. Everything I needed was right there in my surroundings. I had stopped reaching out to God for anything. In essence, my very home had become a sort of idol, my greatest resource, and the biggest contributor to my stubborn independence.
Upon the ministry losing their worship leader, I thought I would do my "big sister" duty and go to love on the team, taking them teachings and resources and prayers from my leaders at home, hoping that spending 9 hours with them would in some way help with the gaping vacancy that was the leader that they were seeking for where the ministry was determined to go. Little did i know, this one day would be the catalyst for this entire life changing transition. A week later, I had another heartfelt request to come to the ministry. I decided to give the request fully to God, sincerely asking "What do you want me to do?"
Now, because I am a realist to the max, I'm not one of those people who can get a tingly feeling and know exactly what's coming next. I need signs. Big ones. Signs that shouted out from the rooftops.
I needed a sign like the one that I got the very next morning after I sincerely prayed. A sign like the email that I got from a mentor I hadn't spoken to in months, questioning the next season in my life. When I read that email, I thought my heart would stop. How would he know that I was afraid to step out, to move, to branch out beyond the familiar?
Many people would give God an immediate yes if they had gotten a sign that big. An all-out yes for me was not that easy. Move? How? When? Where?
There's nothing like getting a "Yes" when what you'd built your life around was a "No." But if that moment alone taught me nothing else, I learned that I can't arrange my life around the plans that I have made for myself. I must leave my life open for God to have access to work the plans that He has for me. The one thing that kept me confident in one of the hardest decisions of my life is that God's Word promises that His plans are to prosper me, to bring me to an expected end. (Jeremiah 29)
I had a moment of "Okay God, I'll look into it" that turned into three weeks of intense separation from everything familiar and completely moving my life to a brand new environment.
All He ever asks for is our Yes. Whatever version of that we choose to give He will work with because He's a gracious and loving God. He has lived this life and He knows what it's like to set out on a journey in the unfamiliar. He knows what it's like to leave His family and have to join in ministry with people who were not considered His inner circle. He knows. And He's ready and waiting for our Yes, Okay, What's next...