Tuesday, July 26, 2011

I'm a thinker. Some might say I'm an over thinker but they'd be wrong. Of course. I evaluate. I weigh out the options, the pros and cons, and make decisions based on the information. I wish I could say that I was always spontaneous but the truth is that that's not the way I was made. Sometimes but not always. It's true, too, that sometimes, even after doing the heavy lifting of decision making in advance, I still have a bit of "buyer's remorse," even if I'm not buying anything. "Did I do the right thing?" "But what about...?" "What if...?" Sometimes but not always.

And then life changes. For some reason, when I make changes in my life (or maybe one could say when change enters my life!), I make them in bundles. A couple of years ago, I managed to change jobs - a change that sent a major tremor through my life, change churches, moved and found a new roommate. It was almost as if one change became the earthquake, followed by a number of little after shocks. I'm still not sure which one was the actual catalyst, the original quake. The decisions were difficult but not impossible and, in the end, the spot that I arrived in was far better than the place I began in. It seems as though there are seasons of change.

I've been thinking a bit about the biblical nature of that lately. Moving away from something does not make it any less. Solomon talks about there being a time for everything:

There is a time for everything and a season for every activity under heaven:
a time to be born and a time to die, 
a time to plan and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh, 
a time to mourn and a time to dance, 
a time to scatter stones and a time to gathr them, 
a time to embrace and a time to refrain, 
a time to search and a time to give up, 
a time to keep and a time to throw away, 
a time to tear and a time to mend, 
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate, 
a time for war and a time for peace. 
Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

There is a time for everything, a time for change.

It seems as though I'm entering into one of those seasons again and this time there's no buyer's remorse. I've thought it through and it sits well in my heart. While the process was not peaceful, I am at peace.

Several years ago - close to six years, I think - I became the part of a church plant. The vision and passion of the planting team, and therefore of the church, resonated deeply with what I felt God speaking into my heart about church and ministry and being kingdom people and so I made that my home. Fast forward a bit. The children's minister was having a baby. It was exciting and we celebrated together. Someone needed to cover her mat leave. After much wrestling, I applied for the job and was hired. It was good. I knew the remaining staff and felt like I fit in well. We worked as a team. We prayed together and thought about the things of His Kingdom together, looking for ways we could be a part of His kingdom work.

There was something about it that was healing. For someone who had almost decided to not enter into ministry again (ever) to be back in an environment where contributions were accepted and expected, team work was the norm and ministry was fun was a gift.

And then things changed. A crisis, a scandal, hit with the magnitude of something known only by the likes of Jerry Springer and the people he hangs out with. I'm not exaggerating. Our little staff team was descimated, hearts were broken and the suggestion was made by those on the outside that we should shut the doors. We didn't. Perhaps we should of but it seemed so unimaginable.

But we survivied. Some would even say that in the time following, we thrived. We worked together. We trusted God and sought his leading. We leaned on each other when we cried and when we laughed, oh did we laugh.

And yet, to me, it seems like somehow that changed. too. Perhaps it was as the intense pain of crisis eased, we didn't need to lean on God or each other in the same way. Perhaps the sin of what had been had infected too deeply. Perhaps we're just all selfish and wrong.  Perhaps it's just change...but change it indeed is.

Over the last several years, people have left, community has changed, money has been an issue, vision has changed, ministry philosophy has morphed and my place, my role, has been dismembered. The people are still wonderful. They are family. They are love. But the organization of it, the structure surrounding them, has changed.

And so I began to evaluate. Is this the place for me? Can I be free to be me in this role, this leadership context? Am I being a good steward of the gifts that God has given me if I continue? Can I be an agent of positive change in this environment? Do I belong? Am I helping? Is this healthy for me?

Hard questions. Painful questions brought on by a painful situation and made more difficult by my deep level of investment and relationship.

Change often comes from those difficult questions. I have just recently resigned from my position on staff at Journey Church. I can't begin to describe how difficult the final decision became or the process that brought me there. All I can say is that I'm at peace...now. I feel a freedom and a hope that I have not felt for a long time.

There, I said it. I left the church and I feel hopeful.

I know the cynics out there would say that it's about time, that it's another example of "the church" failing but I don't see it that way. I see it as a time of seasons, as a time for everything. There was a time when being a part of Journey and serving His kingdom in this way with this group of people was very good. This time, this season of my life, is for something else and I'm finally starting to look forward to it. Even that's taken time but I believe God is a god who knows that and uses that time for good things if we choose to let him.

I still love the people there and pray that God will continue to grow them into people after His own heart, using them to fulfill His purposes and plan here on earth. I pray that they will love God and others deeply and with abandon, that the light of Jesus will radiate from them. I am thankful for moments along the way to catch up with them in different occasions and pray that the relationships forged through the many experiences we've all shared can continue.

But I feel hopeful.

Truthfully, I also feel a little bit of anticipation. Have you ever known a storm was coming? A glorious, powerful, majestic thunderstorm? You could somehow feel it on the air and somehow, you just knew that it was coming? That's a little bit how I feel.  I'm curious to find what else is in store. Stay tuned.

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