[This is part 1 of the article “The Joys, Fears, and Faith of Church Planting” which Cheryl wrote a couple of months ago. While our situation has changed somewhat (our funding and health insurance are still uncertain, but we do have a forwarding address!), the struggle of faith in the midst of an uncertain future still remains.]
The first thing that comes to mind when I think about our church planting experience so far is uncertainty. Dove-tailed with that is that I don’t get to plan it out myself. I thought I would. I thought, way back in the “a few months ago” that God would lay the whole plan out on a platter and then I would get to make whatever decisions seemed best and wisest from there. The main dish would be our income and where, exactly, that would be coming from. The side dishes would be a house to live in, health insurance for our family of six, and dessert would be faith. I was expecting to be able to sample the goods, make my decision, and not have to look crazy. But alas, the tidy platter with the tidy plan has yet to show up. Or, it has, but it doesn’t have the prepared dishes I was expecting.
Instead, the main dish is Jesus, the side dishes are Jesus—and dessert? That’s still faith (surprisingly sweet and zero calories no matter how much you have so you might as well take as much as you can get). Our funding is anything but secured. Health insurance, a sensitive issue for everyone right now, is not in place and we’ve yet to find a forwarding address. But the time to turn back has come and gone.
It’s weird, but for some reason God wanted me to make a decision before all those other concerns were taken care of. He wanted me to make a decision whether or not to move forward based on Him and Him alone. In his mercy, each decision that has had to be made has come a little at a time, one at a time. But the last six months have basically boiled down to a daily decision to continue to walk forward in faith and obedience, despite the uncertainty, or to turn back in fear. After all, we could just stay where we are. Michael could take the promotion he is being offered in the army, and we could carry on. There is a big part of me that would be all too happy to do just that. It would be so. . .easy? Ordinary? Comfortable? Not crazy looking??? YES! All things I am a huge fan of! But to turn back would also mean something else that we have to take very seriously, disobedience. And disobedience would mean missing God’s call on our life and not experiencing the excitement, fruitfulness and adventure of following God wherever he leads, no matter what.
Some days I’m just shaking in my boots. Uncertainty fills the horizon and the “what ifs” circle overhead like vultures circling over a carcass. “What if the financial support never materializes?” “What if we have a lapse in health coverage for our family?” “What if we move to Yakima and everything falls apart?” “What if we have a big launch and no one comes?” “What if we end up looking like the biggest fools to ever walk the earth?”
This call to obedience to Christ has been radical for us but it is one we cannot ignore. We must remember that we are merely responding to God’s invitation to join him in the work he is doing in the Yakima Valley. I don’t know why he chose us to partner with him in this work. We are extremely ordinary Christ followers. We are prone to all the foibles and shortcomings of every other Christian on earth. We haven’t nailed godly parenting. We don’t pray for hours a day and sometimes, and I’ll speak for myself here, I watch tv instead of reading my Bible!
I cannot fathom why God has extended this invitation to us. Since I know it is not on our merit, it must be something about God. Something about His grace, His glory and His mission. He delights to show himself strong and mighty and that is best done through his weakest vessels. Finally! I feel qualified!
to be continued in part 2, “Signs and Wondering” and part 3, “Front Row Seats” …
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