I don’t really like to write about ministry work, but since I committed to writing about how God has lead me two weeks ago, I feel like this is an important aspect to write about. In my Sanctuary days at Black Rock, I did a lot of serving… A LOT… to the point where my pastor sat down with me at least once to try to get me to slow down. There were months at a time where I would serve 3 nights a week, and some Saturdays. From serving with Prime Time, the weekly food truck in Bridgeport, leading Small Groups, organizing small groups for Sanctuary, occasion women’s nights etc… During the winter I would also begin to prepare for the summer gathering called Motion where the small groups take a hiatus and all come together as one big group (mind you I did all of this while holding a full time job). It was a lot of fun, and a lot of work.
The beginning of 2013 I really felt God leading me to step back from a few of the places I was serving. I felt that He wanted me to transition leadership of Prime Time to another volunteer (a process that took about 6 months), and then as I began to prepare for Motion that year, I felt God stop me in my tracks (and when I say stopped in my tracks, I mean that I was about to email to my pastor about beginning plans for Motion and instead I ended up emailing him about stepping back and telling him I felt God wanted me to pass on leadership to another leader). Feeling God lead me this way shocked me because I always like to be doing something, but by the end of the spring I was burnt out. Burn out is not fun friends, and He lead me to do something that was really uncomfortable for me… rest.
During my time of rest, God revealed to me my passions, and refined what really set my heart of fire. I came out of that time of rest ready to commit to serving in ways that I was passionate about, and ways that also helped me keep a good life, work, and ministry balance (this was one of the best things to come out of that time). So I committed to continuing to co-lead a group that helped develop the characteristics of a Christian leader, and do women’s ministry (which included women’s retreats). What happened next is one of the reasons why I believe God lead me into a season of rest. He knew what was ahead and knew where He needed me to be spiritually before He lead me down this next path.
At this point it was time for our second women’s retreat. At the time of the retreat, I was 8 and a half months pregnant, and wasn’t really thinking of what the future held for next year too much… but our plan at least at the beginning of the retreat was to continue with annual retreats as long as God lead us. I didn’t come into the retreat expecting the conversation that I would have with my friend Vera (who does the retreats with me) on the way home. On Saturday night of the retreat, I overhead Vera asking a woman that attended Black Rock why there were no women’s retreats at Black Rock. She said something along the lines of there was no one who was leading them at the time. Vera said to me later “you can step up and do the Black Rock women’s retreats and I can do the Sanctuary ones”. That was like a God sentence… you know those sentences that at first you wish you didn’t hear (I mean…hey… I was really pregnant and was about to have a baby…I don’t got time for that!), because in all honestly you know you have to do something about what you heard. So on the way home, we had a long talk about what that would actually look like. We decided to talk to our pastor to see if this would be welcomed or possible. The idea was to do a soft launch the next year, and then a bigger retreat the year after. This plan would help us to get our feet wet and also learn the ropes of doing a slightly bigger event.
Months of many God appointments happened after that, and we were made aware of an army of women who were willing to humbly step up and do whatever we needed. In the middle of a medical missions conference worship service I attended for work, the band was playing “Christ is Enough” and there were thousands of others singing “I have decided to follow Jesus, no turning back, no turning back”, and in that moment I prayed for the women of Black Rock and for what was before us. A week later, I had a crazy idea… considering there was an army of women ready to help out… why not a big women’s retreat that year? The only thing that was holding us back, was a place. So I got the okay to begin looking for retreat centers that could hold upwards of 150 women, and we found one! And so began the road to the “Igniting Hope” women’s retreat. God’s hand was all over the planning process, He paved our way, and moved mountains to get us to the place He prepared for us. It was awesome, it was beautiful, and women were filled with His hope.
To this day, I am still not sure why they let us do what we do. But what I do know is that when God puts a story in our hearts, He has many other hearts in mind.
Listen attentively, and be obedient
Ladies, balancing time is an important part of stewardship (yup, stewardship doesn’t always have to do with money). I could not do what God gives me so much grace to do, if I wasn’t careful about balancing my time. Am I perfect at it? No way, far from it. But I try to be so careful to what I say yes and no to. When we began talking about a possible 2015 soft launch women’s retreat, I had a lot of but’s to work through with God. The biggest one was that, I had a newborn, and I worked part time… where would I find the time to do this? I came across fire from someone in my family because they didn’t think I was prioritizing my time well having a newborn, working, and planning the retreat. And if I am honest there are some times that I have felt guilty for not spending that time with my family, and wonder if my family will resent me for the time spent in the planning. I am sure that many of you can relate to these feelings. However, if He has called you to do something… He has already considered all of these factors, and it is our job to be obedient to what He has called us to do, and trust that He will work out all the details.
whatchristianswanttoknow.com says this about the word obey- The Biblical word for “obey” comes from the Greek “hupakou” which means to listen attentively; by implication to heed or conform to a command or authority. This word conveys the idea of actively following a command. Beautiful One, listen attentively, and be obedient to what He places in your heart. I know how easy it is to make excuses, because I tried to make them. He already knows what you are up against. If He leads you to stop…. stop! If He leads you to go… go! If He leads you to jump in… jump in! If He leads you to go slow and get your feet wet first… go slow and get your feet wet first! His way is always the best.