This church has been what God used to challenge me, to protect me, to love me, to pursue me, and to grow me. I have made some of my best, best friends at this church. As a single woman, my church has helped me when things break around my house or when I just needed some company. I have seen newborns grow to adulthood, and, in recent years, said goodbye to friends at funerals. My faults have been found out, felt, and forgiven. I have seen the love of Christ transform lives. I have also seen the destruction of sin and lies. I have laughed, cried, prayed, and worshiped with some of the same people for a long, long time.
In my perfect world, I could just remain in that safe cocoon of friends and love and warmth forever. There are new babies to watch grow. There are new people to get to know. There are new songs to sing.
However, God's world, as He constantly reminds me, is not modeled after my design. As it says in Isaiah 55:8-9:
For my thoughts are not your thoughts,I recently began to feel unsettled and restless, and spent months trying to figure out why and pray through it. There wasn't anything wrong with where I was. I wasn't upset or mad at anyone or anything. Were there things I thought could be different? Yes. Have there always been things that I thought could be different? Yes. Will there always, no matter what church I am at, be things that I think could be different? Yes. But such is the way of church, and people, and life in general. No person/place/group of people is ever perfect. Could it be God calling me to something new? Surely not.
neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.
Something new would mean leaving something old. Something new would mean saying goodbye to good friends and people who love the Lord and who have loved me in spite of my failings. Something new would mean leaving by myself and seeking a new church. Something new would be scary. Something new would be sad. Something new was not in my plan.
Hebrews 12:1-2 says this:
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith. . .If I chose to ignore what I believed was God's leading to leave the familiar and safe for the scary and unknown, I would be allowing myself to be entangled in sin, in this case, the sin of fear and lack of trust that God would take care of me no matter where I was. If I didn't follow His promptings, I would not be able to run the race that was set before me.
I don't know why God is moving me right now, and I don't know where He is moving me. I have been equipped by my years with my church, and strengthened by the love and care and truth I have received there. I have cried many, many tears. However, as one friend told me, "It would be sadder if you were with a church for that long and you didn't want to cry."
I am sad to say goodbye to my home of eighteen years. I will miss it very, very much. I am thankful for the blessing of the people I have known there. I am excited to see what God has in store. I am also grateful to know that the family of God is not limited to specific churches. Someday, in heaven, all of us who believe will be worshiping the Lord together in eternal fellowship, and none of us will be crying.