Tomorrow we begin our 4th year here in Waynesville, NC. Three years ago today we moved from Summerville, SC, leaving behind family, friends, our church community, jobs and everything we’ve known for a lifetime, all because God asked us to.
Three full years have passed since we said the big Yes to Him. Things sure haven’t gone like we thought they would, but we haven’t stopped saying Yes. And even though it isn’t where we want it to be, I sure am learning a lot through this process. I know you’re DYING to hear what I’ve learned, so I’m happy to share. 😉
My first take-away from these past three years: His timing is everything. Mine isn’t. Some days feel like they fly by and then other’s drag to infinity. I know we can all say that to some degree or other. But when you’re waiting on the “thing” to happen that you moved here for – your next mission, destiny, assignment – whatever you want to call it – and that thing hasn’t happened yet ANDITSBEENTHREEYEARSALREADY, one can get a bit over the waiting. Not me – Shannon. I’m totally fine with waiting forever. Really, it’s him.
I’m joking. I’m joking. It’s totally my impatience. There. I said it.
And yet there are two glaring reminders in Scripture that I must reflect on now and again to bring me back from the edge. Not a literal edge – just the proverbial one.
I really don’t have to go into detail because I’m sure you all know their stories. But dang. Thanks for the reminder, God that Joseph waited 17 years for his fulfilled promise. And let’s not forget that Joseph had no idea the path he’d have to walk to get to the fulfilled promise. Abraham never saw his promise fulfilled completely in his earthly life, only partially. God just said, “Go.” So he did. No other directive. WHAT?!
Sometimes we find ourselves very antsy that we aren’t “planting a church” like we heard Him tell us to. Yes, we are doing what He’s directed us to do, but we can’t see anything yet. It’s been three LONG years to us and it feels like nothing is ever going to happen. But in reality, three years is such a very short time and He gives us great examples in the Word that always bring us back around to “His timing is never our timing but He keeps his promises.” And so we wait.
The second thing I’ve learned in the last three years is this: my story isn’t your story and that’s okay.
Our pastors, Scott & Stephanie Jones, recieved a directive from God to move from their home in Michigan to South Carolina to plant a church. So they did. And within 6 months they had about 30 people coming alongside them. Now, almost 10 years later, there are 150 people who call New Day home.
We’ve heard so many faith-building stories from them about how God hooked them up with these people or that place or sent that money at just the right time. And it all happened so quickly. it’s an amazing, exciting story that just screams “God is all over this! Wow! Look at how amazing He is!”
When we received our directive to “Go” and we moved here, I think I had it in my mind that our story would be very similar to theirs. I mean, afterall, we had a real God-moment when He said “Go.” Right?! But when our timeline started stretching out, and things that we were trying to do weren’t panning out, I found myself really questioning everything. Did God say go? Did He tell us the right time? Did we miss it? Why isn’t it happening for us like that?
Hard questions. Hard emotions. Lots of inner struggle.
But I’ve learned more in these last three years about coming to terms with my story, about being okay with my story not looking like anyone else’s story, and more importantly, about not being afraid of what other’s may think of me because my story doesn’t look as successful as someone else’s.
God made me. God made Shannon. He brought us together and He is writing our story. And it’s going to be – it already is – but it’s going to be even more amazing than we can imagine because it’s our own, very unique, written-only-for-us, story.
That’s pretty cool.
The third big take-away from three years in is this: Until He tells you to do something differently, keep doing the last thing He said to do. If you choose to try something on your own, it will fail. And that will leave you feeling defeated. Not. Fun.
One of the last things that God clearly told us to do was “Go out and live your life. Get involved in your community. Be present.” Sounds pretty anti-climatic for building a church. I mean, won’t we always be “living life?” But that’s what He said. And as time has passed (yes, that directive was given about 3 months after we moved here), I can begin to see why He said that.
Life here is different than in Summerville. Mountain-living has it’s own culture. A culture we weren’t privvy to prior to moving. A culture that takes time to break into. A culture that doesn’t accept outsiders at the drop of a hat. So maybe God was on to something when He said to get out there and do life – get to know people – establish ourselves in the community.
It’s been hard to just keep doing that and not see a church plant springing forth from it just yet. Really hard.
So there you have it. A few take-aways from our three years here. And the biggest thing we’ve settled into? We want to keep saying Yes – even when we don’t understand.
To us, the Yes is more important than the success. It’s more important than what everyone thinks about us, our successes, our failures, all of it. The Yes is being sold out, no matter the outcome. And that’s what we will continue to do.
Three years in . . . a lifetime to go.