There’s something so amazing about 2nd chances. Maybe something happened and your world crumbled because you messed up, failed or maybe, just maybe it wasn’t your fault at all. But you walk away from that particular situation/season and wonder, “What now? Will I ever be able to do that again?”
Maybe you are grateful for the 2nd chance. Maybe you dread it. Maybe you wish you could just go back to the way things were. Maybe you miss the comfort of the past and wish you could just go back to that and stay there forever – at least it was familiar and comfortable, right? Right.
We all long to be comfortable and in a familiar place. But that’s not God’s promise to us. It’s not always His plan for us to be comfortable and in familiarity.
Remembering the Israelites
There was a huge famine throughout Egypt and Joseph was in charge of keeping the food supply going during those very lean years. The famine spread and soon his family, from whom he had been estranged for years, came for food. You know the story. After a while there was a big family reunion and Pharoah sent for Joseph’s family to move to Egypt. He gave them the land of Goshen. And while that Pharoah was alive, the Israelites were prosperous. They grew. God blessed them. And they had favor in the land.
Then that Pharoah died. The new leader, unfortunately, didn’t appreciate the Israelites. Instead he feared them and enslaved them to keep them under control. For 400 years they were slaves until God sent Moses to free them.
And yet, even while they were doing their freedom walk to the Promised land, they grumbled, complained and wanted things like they used to be. God was not too happy about that and was ready on several occasions to wipe. them. out. But Moses intervened each of those times and God relented. He gave them 2nd chance after 2nd chance after 2nd chance.
God is the best at 2nd chances. He’s the #1 go-to for all of the “agains.” I’m so glad because if it were left up to us, I have a feeling we’d not be as generous with those as He is. We should be, but sometimes we aren’t. But that’s not today’s topic, so we’ll move on.
Our own desert journey
Planting a church is no joke, folks. I mean this whole start from scratch thing is hard. That’s just being real. We started strong in March 2015, built up to about 20 peeps and by February 2016 we were down to us and 2 others. There was some inner dynamics that had to be addressed and there were those who weren’t ready to commit to a grass-roots start up. Totally understandable. This isn’t the most glamorous stage of church planting – the beginning. We get it.
When things started fizzling out, we kept going for about 6 more months. It was frustrating. Disheartening. Lonely. All of that. We are literally back to square one right now.
Over the last 6 months we have been plagued with all the feels and questions just like the Israelites as they made their way across the desert.
- Why did You bring us here to let this fail when we had a perfectly good thing going in Summerville?
- We remember the support back there instead of this going solo every day.
- We should just go back to those comforts instead of this wilderness living You have us in. At least back there we knew what was expected of us.
Sound familiar? Isn’t it so easy for all of us to fall into that place of longing for the past – that place of comfort – when God is pushing us into the next thing? Sometimes He has to strip us of the things that hold us back – fear of failure, fear of man, expectations that aren’t His, performance, you name it – so that we can step into the new thing solely intent on one thing . . . Him. His presence. Nothing more. Nothing less.
SIDEBAR: Listen, it’s okay to ask hard questions. It’s okay to question. It’s okay to reflect and process and have all the feels. What’s imperative is that you stay in a healthy place and have people around you that keep you in that healthy place. You must have that circle of friends who allow you to process, but don’t let you stay there. We should ultimately process that way with Papa as He is the best friend and confidante we can have. But our human connections are heaven on earth for us and so, we need those too.
The Israelites knew that God was taking them to their Promised Land, but they couldn’t grasp the journey, the work and the effort it would take to obtain it. He knew that the comfort of the past would dim in comparison to what awaited them in the land flowing with milk and honey. He not only saw the bigger picture but all of the tiny, intricate pieces of the puzzle that had to fit just perfectly for it all to work right. He knew the timing.
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that an 11 day journey can quickly turn into a 40 year one if you don’t recognize and stop going around the same mountain. Unfortunately the Israelites didn’t and well, you know the story. We, however, are determined to not repeat the same pattern.
So now we’re digging in during this tough, yet restful, season asking the hard questions – when? where? how? what? who? We are diligently and purposefully waiting for direction. This isn’t the really fun part, I’ll be honest. It has probably been the loneliest, most desert season we’ve been in – away from our friends and family, our community – and with no direction as to what to do next. But we know this: He is faithful. He is loving. And He is good. Always.
One day, when this finally kicks off and gains momentum, I’m sure we’ll look back and remember this season with a lot of fondness, joy and laughter.
I can promise you this: we aren’t looking at this season as one of punishment or abandonment or even failure. He always has a purpose. He always teaches in every season.
All of my life, in every season, You are still God. I have a reason to sing. I have a reason to worship. Desert Song by Hillsong
Thanking Him today for this season and anticipating the next one . . .
Until next time,