I am nearly speechless. I feel so overwhelmed. Overwhelmed with Joy, fear, confusion, excitement. I can barely contain myself. I am buzzing. So much has happened. So much is changing, and yet my God is constant and good. I pray that He gives me focus right now to sort through my mess of thoughts.
Yesterday was my last official day as Associate Co-Director of Youth Ministry. I woke up early to pray, but as I sat outside in my summer prayer spot, I couldn’t focus: I was too cold. It was a cold morning and I could see my breath. I wanted to stay outside and watch the birds wake up, but even wrapped in my blanket the chill set into my bones and my teeth chattered. It was then that I recognized the irony of my situation. The seasons were changing in more ways than one, but in both seasons I was being called into my home.
Three years ago God called me to lead the high school teens at my church. At the time I didn’t understand the call: I was certified in Elementary Education, I was looking for a teaching job, and I was working for my family business. I didn’t have any qualifications to lead high school teens aside from the fact that I loved Jesus and I loved volunteering my Wednesday nights to hang with them. I didn’t even know the books of the bible by heart, a skill that all my high school teens learned in 3rd grade. But I answered the call and by the grace of God, He provided me with everything I needed.
I fully expected to remain in this position until God finally decided it was time that Dean and I become parents. My plan was to work until I became a mom and then I would stay at home with my kids and be a housewife. So when God called me to stay at home and be a housewife without kids, I felt, well, terrified! What would people think? I felt like this call went against every timeline the world taught me:
But if I put the fear of the world aside, this call feels so in tune with who I am. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely loved my job as a Youth Ministry Co-Director. It never felt like a job and it still remains a passion of mine. I love those teens like they are my own little brothers and sisters and in a way, they are. But throughout the past year I have often felt a pull to my home. I was in a constant battle. When I was working on my house, I ran through lists of ministry things that needed to get done. I felt guilty for spending time on my home, when there was so much stuff that I could be doing in ministry for others. But when I was doing ministry I felt like I should be spending more time on my house. I felt guilty that I was allowing other people to come before my husband and my home.
After a month of diligent prayer and counsel from those I trusted, I was able to discern God’s call for my life. I made the decision to obey God. I would resign from my staff position and become a full time housewife.
So there I was, standing on my deck, just hours before I would attend my very last staff meeting. I wanted so badly to remain outside, but out there in the cold I could not focus on God. The seasons were changing and I must go into my house. In that moment my yard felt like youth ministry. It looked the same, but I could feel change in the air. It even sounded different, not bad, just different. The cold had silenced the crickets and cicadas and the birds had not yet started singing their morning praises. It was a beautiful silence before the start of something new.
I looked out at the different parts of my yard as if I was looking at them for the last time – as if they were the different parts of my ministry: Sunday School, Diving In, Impact, Work Camp, retreats, fellowship, etc. Each part is full of so many memories. I can’t help but cry; what an honor it has been. The things I have seen and been a part of are priceless and I will cherish them forever. I had spent the last 3 years of my life in youth ministry, just as I had spent every morning for the last 3 months outside in my yard. And now it was time to go inside.
The memories make me want to stay, but I can’t, God has called me somewhere else. The mornings would be different now that the cold has rolled in. The ministry was beginning a new season too, and just as God did not design me to withstand the bitter cold, He did not design me for this season of ministry. I wish He did, but He didn’t. I must go inside. I walked slowly toward the door, hoping that before I reached the house the air would warm up and I could stay, but it didn’t. I must go inside. I stepped into the doorway and turned to take one last look at how things were, knowing that the change was good, knowing that there would be so much beauty in the new season, but allowing myself to feel the sorrow that I would not be there to experience it. But there were new experiences ahead of me. There would be new things to learn and cherish. So with the memories of the past and the excitement of the future I closed the door, the yard and ministry outside and I in my home.
That was yesterday, but today is different. Yesterday marked the end of something old; today marks the beginning of something new. To my great surprise, this morning was warm enough for me to sit on my deck and pray. My yard was no longer a metaphor for the ministry I once led, it was just my yard, open to my presence. I spent the morning listening to the world wake up and praising God for his beautiful creation.
“And the joy is found in the laying down,
so I give it all to You
And the joy is found in the laying down,
so I give it all to You
I’ll let go, so I can take hold of You”
Just as I sang these words, I felt a drop of water on my head, then my hand. A drop fell on my journal and then hundreds of drops fell from the heavens all around me. It was raining, but how? There was not a cloud above my head. I looked at the sky, perplexed. I stood up, turned my back to my yard, and looked for a cloud behind my house. What I found was not a cloud, but a rainbow. A beautiful rainbow that stretched across the whole sky with my house at its center. Yes, this was the beginning of something new, and something very beautiful.
“And I’ll let go, so I can take hold of You”