The last two weeks I have shared some true stories of accepting God’s direction in our lives to make a seeming illogical trip from Idaho to Rhode Island–with two you children, a VW Van and almost no money! We finally made it to Providence and what was to become the Eastern headquarters of the ministry we belonged to. We arrived road weary but full of God’s testimonies. We knew a few of the people, but there were many new brothers and sisters to get to know.
A few days after our arrival we went to Massachusetts, to attend the wedding of our long time friends. On the way to the wedding, we stopped at another ministry home. As we walked into the house I heard in my spirit Satan laughing and cackling–“some ministry house this is. ” It was a shock to me–and I found myself replying to his taunts–God, I don’t care what you have to do, shut him up. I found out later that the current leaders were struggling with marriage issues and other attacks which led them to seek some not so wise choices influenced by our enemy.
As I stood there in the foyer and I heard those taunts, as I responded to those taunts with that phrase “no matter what it takes” I did not know the course of change I was setting in motion. The following day our overseer asked Darryl and I if we could/would move into that home and take over the pastorate! This was not what I expected. I already felt awkward and confused by some of the obvious differences between the west and the east–but I had asked the Lord to make the changes, so what choice did I have? If you are upset about something–be prepared to be the solution! Talk about denying my flesh and wants–this was not on our agenda. We had planned to be gone two weeks and now we were being asked to remain for an unspecified time! As we discussed what would happen to our home and church in Idaho, what it would mean for the church and ministry there in Massachusetts, we felt God say yes. He would work all those other things out.
None of it was easy. It definitely became a learning school for us in so many ways. The Holy Spirit began to teach me some very interesting lessons. Such as the familiar is always “better” than the “new”. I found myself comparing the west coast to the east coast, and due to this prejudice the west coast always seemed better. I finally learned, different is just different and to stop putting a judgment on it (which was a great lesson to have learned when we did overseas ministry!). I learned that spiritual warfare is real. For months I had to remind myself everyday that putting on the helmet of salvation was not an option! To defeat and silent that voice took perseverance and determination. I learned about homesickness, and how to give it to the Lord. It has given me compassion for the many military folks we’ve encountered here in Washington. I learned the God loves, cares for our nation and he loves diversity. As the years passed and we traveled back and forth from the east to the west, I learned to appreciate the different aspects of our nation. Yes, we had to “deny ourselves” to live in a new place, learning new ways and new things–but it was worth it. We made long time friends and it opened doors of ministry and influence that we still have today.
We discussed in our Life Group the other day what denying yourself meant versus self-denial. Someone described it this way, self denial is our decision to refrain from something, while denying our self for the gospel’s sake is submitting to God’s request. There is no way we can take up our cross and follow him without first recognizing it entails His will, not our will. Learning to trust His will as the better way takes the doing it! As we practice it everyday, it becomes easier to say yes. I still struggle from time to time, but I have learned that His way really is the better way. It is not always the easy way, nor without pain, but we can trust it will bring good fruit. I love and miss my east coast brethren. My life is sooo much richer because of them. The lessons were hard, but the fruit is sweeter. Please say yes to Him, you won’t regret it.