As I write this, I’m basking in the glow of three weekends spent sharing the grace of God with the people of Bethel Lutheran Church in Bryan, Texas. For me, it felt like the culmination of five years’ worth of hard learning. Well, I guess all of it wasn’t hard learning, but I’m not going to lie – a lot of it was hard. For any of you that have been following our story for a while, you’ve seen the exciting parts, and you may also have wondered what was going on when we went silent. Our journey of the last few years has been… well, let’s say it’s been unconventional.
When God called us to this different lifestyle, we really didn’t know what we were getting into. The early part – when we quit the job, sold the house, and hit the road was surprisingly exhilarating. (If you don’t know the story, you can read about it at dropnets.com) I thought, now this is living! I really think it was God’s sweet grace to make it so fun at the start. We were in such new territory that meeting much resistance would likely have sent us running back to our old way of living. The psalmist invites us to “taste and see that the Lord is good” (Psalm 34:8). Well, we tasted, and we saw, and we were smitten with this new way of following Jesus.
Well, we tasted, and we saw, and we were smitten
with this new way of following Jesus.
Here’s the thing, though. Life is not all mountaintops. And there are some things that must be learned in the valley. We’ve lived a valley, my friends. It was deep and dark and unexpected. (I guess it didn’t need to be unexpected, but sometimes we forget that pain is a part of life.) There have been days that we thought there would be no end to the darkness. I want you to know that we’re not super-Christians. Pain has a way of stripping us all down and leveling the playing field. It’s not pretty. I’ll spare you the details.
Yet there is something I’m discovering about God. He is able. As I type, that last sentence seems so inadequate. It doesn’t even come close to explaining my discovery. Let me see if I can describe it better. I’ve always been one who could buckle down and do stuff. Lots of passion and lots of drive. For the last year or so, I haven’t been able to do that. I guess you could say that my “dig deep” got broke. I would see problems around me (and within me), and I would know that I did not have what it took to solve them. It was an awful feeling. Somewhere in the middle of that, as I cried out to God and shared my struggle with a trusted friend, I began to discover that God had me right where he wanted me. No, he’s not a God who delights in pain. He is a God of freedom. All my life I thought that everything depended on me. I believe God wanted to ease me of that burden. I began to see that he is completely capable of accomplishing his purposes in me and around me. Even without me. (Gasp!)
I guess you could say that my “dig deep” got broke…
I believe God wanted to ease me of that burden.
That brings us to present day. I have been longing to share the story of who God is and what I have seen him doing. I have often been paralyzed by my perfectionism, fear of misrepresenting God, or fear of people rejecting my story. Somehow over these last few weeks, I had none of that. I lived in the supernatural grace of knowing that God would accomplish his good pleasure in the lives of the people of Bethel and in my own life. Even as I did the work of preparing and speaking, I felt confident that God was in control. What I experienced was a sweet connection with God and a confirmation of his calling on my life, without weight to me. What I saw was the way he used us to breathe life into his people in an amazing way. The result was deep gratitude.
I’ve been at this long enough to know that this will not always be my experience. There will be days when I don’t have courage or confidence or gratitude. Even still, God will be with me – loving me, fighting for my freedom, and working good in the lives of his beloved. He is able.
author | Jamie Wiechman