In my recent "Diving In" post, I shared that we were "anticipating with much excitement what God is going to do as He leads us into a whole new adventure..." I promised some friends that I would share the story behind that new adventure here, as it's all come about so suddenly that we haven't had an opportunity to talk to many people about it in person.
On July 2, 2011, we made our first trip out to Grace Baptist Church in Lavaca. That night, I posted this on Facebook:
Wow. Went out to support and encourage our mission church, Grace Baptist, tonight, but ended up super-encouraged ourselves! What a blessing to catch up with some old friends, meet a few new ones, and fellowship with some of our own church family...not to mention enjoying some fun music and feasting on wonderful food. :)
Then in November, we went back to help with their Community Thanksgiving Meal. I posted this on Facebook that weekend, along with an album of photos:
Grace Baptist Church held their first annual Community Thanksgiving Meal on Thanksgiving Day. We had a wonderful time helping Bro. Gary and Becky and other GBC folks prepare and serve. It was such a blessing to be part of their ministry, and we are already looking forward to helping out again next year!
From the time we were there last July, and then even more after we were there on Thanksgiving, Billy and I have felt our hearts pulling toward Grace Baptist and the work Bro. Gary and Becky are doing there. We've talked several times about the fact that we wished that we could be two places at once...at Oak Cliff and Grace Lavaca. Our thought was that "maybe someday" God would call us out there. But in the meantime, Oak Cliff was our much-loved church and we couldn't imagine leaving.
Then a little over a month ago, Bro. Kent made a comment in a sermon about sending some people over to Grace...asking some people to go spend some time helping bolster up the work there. Although his comment was part of a hypothetical example, it stirred something in Billy and I both at the time. There were so many reasons we couldn't imagine leaving Oak Cliff that it was still a "maybe someday" thing...but the pull was getting stronger.
Three weeks ago yesterday, Bro. Kent was out of town, and Bro. Gary was our Sunday night supply preacher. As we visited with Bro. Gary and Becky that night, God again began to stir our hearts. There was nothing in particular said that night that it can be traced to, but very suddenly and unexpectedly we realized that God was no longer saying "maybe someday"...instead He seemed to be saying "now".
There were several things that had held us back from making a move in the past year: Bro. Kent's preaching. Adult choir. Our church family, which truly has been family to us for so many years...including one of my very dearest friends. And...my Sunday School class. How in the world could I leave what I knew had been my calling for the past two years, the class I'd planned to teach at least until Ammah Grace graduated?! How could I leave my precious Sunday School girls?
Not to mention the fact that we knew it would be really hard on our two oldest. For the little girls, it would be an adventure. But the older two had developed deep, deep roots at Oak Cliff...roots for which we were immensely grateful. How could we tear them away from those roots?
But as we prayed and sought God's will in the next couple of weeks, God just kept reminding us that His ways are higher than ours, and far beyond our understanding. He reminded us over and over, through His Word and through wise counsel (particularly from both our current and future pastors), that our job was to obey...and through that obedience would come blessing for our family, for Grace, and for Oak Cliff. He reminded us over and over that He loves our children even more than we do, and that HIS plan for them is best. He also gently reminded me that He is more than able to call another teacher who will love my Sunday School girls as much as I do. :)
As He was reminding us of all those things, He was also giving us an unexplainable peace about leaving the church we love so much, and an almost uncontainable excitement about the church He was calling us to. He began teaching me some amazing things about obedience as a JOY rather than a drudgery.
What a whirlwind! Two weeks after we first began to ask ourselves if "maybe someday" might be "now", we were sure. We've had lots of very sudden, unexpected course changes in the past 8 years, most of which have been very traumatic. It was an amazing thing to have a sudden, unexpected course change that we could be excited about!
The excitement is definitely tinged with sadness. I managed not to cry while saying good-bye to my Sunday School class yesterday and then got teary walking into the choir loft for the last Sunday morning. But then sitting at Grace last night listening to Bro. Gary teach from James, I got teary all over again realizing how blessed we are to be part of what God is doing out there. My Facebook status last night when we got home pretty much summed it up:
What a day! We are ending one chapter in our lives and beginning a new one. Lots of memories, lots of anticipation, lots of emotions...cried some sad tears this morning and then cried some joyful ones tonight. Excited about the new adventure God has called us to, and overwhelmed with gratitude that God has given us not one but two church families that we love so dearly. We are richly blessed!
Definitely richly blessed! And looking forward to the next stage of the journey. And thankful to know that our awesome God already has it completely mapped out...not just since last July, but since before the foundation of the world! What an amazing thought.
O Lord, you have searched me and known me!
You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
You search out my path and my lying down
Even before a word is on my tongue,
You hem me in, behind and before,
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
How precious to me are your thoughts, O God!
If I would count them, they are more than the sand.
~ Psalm 139: 1-6; 16-18
For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
“For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven
so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth;
“For you shall go out in joy
and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.
~Isaiah 55: 8-12