On Sunday morning I was running late. I woke up a bit fuzzy with a dull headache and churning stomach. It could be that the outpouring of tears from the previous evening had caused this throbbing. Or perhaps it was the combination of pizza and barbeque from the dual parties preceding the tears. In any event, I arrived at church a bit pieced together. It turns out that this was representative of the rest of our congregation.
Service began as usual, with the welcome of handshakes and hugs as well as songs to lift up in worship. I sang through my receding aches, surrounded by youth and young adults. As Larry, founder of the Hoover Walk, took the mic to share about the results of this year’s walk for World Hope, I felt a shift in the air. Today would be different. Today we were on the brink of recognizing a need….and sharing it on our knees and in our speech.
Larry’s speech was purcilating with praise and humble gratitude. It is no question that the Holy Spirit was guiding us towards a moment of corporate awe. Soon after, a young adult took the mic. It had been some time since this man had shared in worship, which he acknowledged openly. What proceeded was a very genuine admission of anguish from sin. “Confessions”, he titled his poetry. We didn’t obtain dirty details, but it was obvious he was offering apology with traces of God’s grace.
As he stepped down, my heart began crying out, “please someone go to him. God, send a man to surround him!” In that very thought, a man stopped him in the middle of the aisle and embraced him, tears streaming down his face. A line from a Watermark song entered my head “Lord, send us rushing.” Before my pastor could finish his caring statement from the pulpit, my sister-in-law stood up. She shared how she had been praying for our church to be shaken up so that we could realize our need….and how, indeed, we have been. People stood up sporadically, giving testimonies and presenting heartaches. Some stood up and admitted desire to be changed and awaken from “sleep.”
The night prior to this event, I shared with a fellow young adult woman about my own brokenness. I was sideblinded at a party of primarily couples. Most of them I didn’t know, so my single self stood out like an ostrich among cattle. Or maybe a peacock among cattle…I was wearing some pretty bright colors. Something as simple as this caused me to spill years of pain and past offenses. I shared with her years of jumping between silent confusion and impulsive pacification. It seems that I have been awakening this last month from a sleeping giant. There is something unresolved in my life that I have handled so poorly in the past. I held it inside for so long, thinking it was too painful to share, that when I attempted to express it with people for the first time, I exploded with angry aversion. I jumped straight from offense to anger without passing hurt.
I have been experiencing the echoes of hurt for the last year. I’m not angry about it anymore. I just realize now how much this unresolved issue has mutilated my spirit and given misconception to the communities in which I have lived.
Isn’t that sometimes how brokenness occurs? We pack away pain, which may leak out in forms of rebellion or addiction, until we can run no longer. Enraged at how we’ve handled it, we jump over grieving and attack those who have ignored or caused the pain. Something shakes us out of our stupor and reveals how broken we really are inside.
I would be ashamed to admit how many people I have offended in my attempts to avoid admission of hurt. However, I know that I have. I am pretty certain we all have.
I would venture to say that somewhere in our young lives, we all experience a heart-shattering moment. Disappointment does not sit well unless it is replaced with an appointment. Even though this is going to sound extremely cheesy, I’m gonna share it. I have heard it said before that our disappointments are God’s appointments. Whether brought to Him in the instant of heartbreak or years later after bitter resignation…
God is a mender of brokenness. Sacrificing His Son, Jesus Christ, was the very expression of mending. This is ultimate reconciliation! If He can mend such a great rift between us and Him, I am certain He is able to mend the rifts we have built between us. It starts with recognizing our hurt and our need. And that is exactly what occured Sunday morning. Our church was shaken, and with our mending will come an outpouring of genuine testimony and evangelism. I’m so excited. God is AWESOME!
I kinda dislike steps. At the bottom staring up to the top of hundreds, it’s easy to wonder how long it will take to plateau out.
But today I was so peacefully encouraged by Dr. Jo Ann Lyon’s testimony. I don’t think I could quote anything she said today, but I took in every word. The luncheon was incredible, surrounded by 65 women and the Holy Spirit. Evidently, Dr. Lyon has climbed a collection of steps to take her to this present place of influence. She may not have seen the importance of each odd job or move, but God was laying a path for her to affect the heart of His church. As the founder and chair of World Hope International as well as the newly elected General Superintendent (i.e. “pope”) of the Wesleyan Church, she leads in compassion and determination.
I love how God leads. Sometimes it’s so gentle, like a nudge. Other times it is a flood, forcing us in the way His water sends us. Dr. Lyon made a point that I really think is great. We have two choices in these situations. Resignation and relinquishment. Relinquishment opens ourselves up for God to fully use us. Resignation, like a closed fist, fights everything off…even the good stuff.
What step are you on right now? Do you know where it’s leading, or are you completely baffled?
It is done!! I am impressed with my team. We had an hour to complete it, and we finished it in less than 15 minutes. Check it….
Pastor Joey Jennings is my pastor. He and his wonderful family have apart of Christ Wesleyan Church for years…not sure how many, honestly. On many occasions I have been challenged and comforted by his messages and pastoral leadership. Today I will positively post about him.
Pastor Joey is a wise guy. No, really! Not in the slang term way, but seriously wise. As his wife has assured me on several occasions, anything you take to him will be prayed over and considered carefully even if he doesn’t respond immediately. Our church is truly shepherded by this man. His responses to difficult situations and challenges are always seasoned with the leading of the Spirit. His challenges are pure at heart. If you hear him speak, you will hear someone deeply connected with the needs of the congregation.
Recently and on more than one occasion, I have felt the impulse to stand up and shout in agreement with some of his leading during worship services. Although I have not followed through on the impulse, I want to say right now how thankful I am that my pastor is not afraid to confront issues of concern. When the congregation needs direction, he is able and willing to give it. And as I mentioned above, he may not respond to things out loud immediately, but after experiencing his pastoring over time, I am more and more assured of his leadership.
I pray God will bless, keep, and drive the Jennings as they continue on at our church. The Lord knows we need this strong and Spirit-led governing.
Well, it’s Sunday morning. I planned to write this blog last night, but I ended up falling asleep really fast after having such an exciting night of fellowship with some college buddies, family, and church friends.
Anazao and I played at a really neat coffeehouse called Common Grounds Cafe over in Colfax, NC last night. The entire day just seemed to smile. I got a call from one of my best friends, Des (who lives about 5 hours away), saying “Mom and I are in Greensboro, btw. I don’t know what you are doing today….” So of course, I immediately invited them to the show. I had reconnected with Scott Johnson and Aaron and Sara Moore from GWU as well, and they came. So between all of them and my brother and sister-in-law, it was a GWU reunion. My Dr. Plate song (Pulse) was a hit with them cuz they were in those classes with me. 🙂
It’s so amazing how God works things out. First, Desiree and her mom Shoshanna where going to have to head on before the concert actually started…and they did. However within an hour Randy (owner of the cafe) interrupts, having found Des’s cell phone in the parking lot. Hmm. Yep. SO! They came back and stayed to listen, Shoshanna remarking “Andi, it was God’s will that we hear you.” I love these people. I pray they arrived home safely…they drove through the night to get home.
Also, this might be confusing for those who don’t go to Abbotts Creek Missionary Baptist or Christ Wesleyan, but humor me. What a small world! So my college buddy Aaron Moore (was in MOST of my classes at GWU) was previously a youth/worship pastor at Abbotts Creek. Scott Reid at the time was the youth pastor at Christ Wesleyan (where I attend.) THEN Scott became the youth pastor at Abbotts Creek. So last night here is Aaron and Sara coming to see me and here walks in people they know that attended Abbotts Creek, including Scott Reid’s wife and kids. LOL. The connections last night were just so awesome.
So we really got a chance to catch up and the music went brilliantly. The guys rocked as always and I got through my set 100% by memory! I gotta be honest, it kinda unnerved me at first, but I gave it to Jesus, and He sang me through it. Again, God is good and He knows the way when we don’t see it.
Well, I gotta get ready for church. I’m gonna try to make it to breakfast for once. LOL.