So, tonight I am reminded of that passage in James where he admonishes “You do not even know what will happen tomorrow!” Apparently computer problems and then a weird tummy thing that kept me in bed for a day. So, now after two days of posting I am back with part two of the story of our mission. After writing the last piece, and reading it to Corey, it was met with the response that I hadn’t really given a lot of detail, except some teasers about what was coming. I have to laugh, because he’s totally right, and I’m usually a little better at being concise with that. Even so, I am pretty sure God had His reasons for the somewhat windy lead in to what we are actually up to for the next year. It’s a little hard to explain, which may be why I needed the groundwork.
I have been a Methodist now for probably going on 10 or 12 years. We joined Liberty Hill United Methodist way back while we still lived in Canton I think. It’s likely I’ve probably been a Methodist longer than that, because I’m pretty sure the church I got baptized in way back in the mist of memory was a Methodist church, though, I can’t swear by that. But, if it was, baptism after the age of consent usually comes with membership vows. Funny thing is that though I would say I was a cultural Christian for all that time, and probably longer, I’ve really only been a follower of Christ since about seven years ago or so, when we started attending Ball Ground UMC in Ball Ground, Georgia. Before that, I was still in that phase where I was very much looking for the love of God, and the forgiveness of God, but I hadn’t quite reached the point of understanding what it meant to profess Christ as Lord, and that there was more to it than what God promised me. There was committing my life to Him that was needed too.
So, you could say that I finally grew up into Christ about the same time I landed at Ball Ground UMC, and most of my time as an active follower of Christ has come as I attended that Methodist church I have lived, loved folks and served in for these years. A few years ago, as my friend likes to remind me, I also knew with the certainty that comes from the things God speaks to our hearts, that I would have to leave this church. And that I would likely leave the Methodist fold at some point. I honestly believed that was going to be a very hard and permanent parting at that time. But, instead it seems God has something else in mind. I’m grateful for that, because I’ve spent an awful lot of time learning about the Methodist, well Methods, over these last few years. And while I often struggle over some of the current shifts within the denomination, the core teaching of Wesley, while not perfect, speaks a lot of deep truths that call to me.
Over the last two years though, I have gotten the sense that God was calling me to stretch. Not just stretch in the work I was doing for Him, or in my studying, but in looking at other denominations. I’ve had the building sense that we are not meant to maintain these divisions we have. That God allowed these divisions for a time because they served a purpose. But, we as the body of Christ are ALL one body, no matter our man-created denominations and their underlying rifts. Now, I have to tell you, I had no idea what exactly He wanted to me to DO about that sense we needed to come together at the body. Especially given that there truly is a lot of heretical teaching and apostasy that has crept into a lot of the denominations. What am I supposed to do to bring together denominations that have been deeply divided, to the point of hatred in some cases, for hundreds of years? Worse, the average congregant probably doesn’t even know why it is the other denominations are looked upon as heathens by their leadership. At least not most that I have met, and I grant that’s not a whole lot. But, our obstacles are often made up of what our mind extrapolates from our experience.
So, on to the mission. A few weeks ago, what God unfolded in my head with His command to go was not a break from the Methodist church. It was also not a complete break from my current congregation. It was instead literally a one year sojourn to visit all the churches, specifically every church I can find in Jasper, Ball Ground, Tate and Talking Rock. I’m not even actually sure how many churches that is, or what kind they all are, or if I actually have to do all of them, or if I’m supposed to start in Jasper and Ball Ground and then work my way in until I run out of my 52 weeks. I trust God will give me some insight on that as we go along. He usually does.
The other part of the mission, that I’m still wrestling with some, is that I’m supposed to listen for what is missing. That’s a little hard to do in a single visit to a church, I know. But, it is the message I get when I pray about what we’re supposed to accomplish by visiting all the churches. I’m supposed to hear what is missing, and I think make contacts along the way. Because afterward He’s sending me home. But He’s not sending me back the same. I don’t know if He will lead me back to BGUMC to stay. I kinda hope so, because I really do love my church family there. But, like I mentioned in the last note, family is family whether I’m close or not, so if He has something else in mind with that homecoming, I’m sure it’ll be beautiful. In the meantime, I’m praying for them. And I’m praying for us. And I’m praying for the churches we’re visiting. Because God is moving, and we all really need that in this day we’re living in. And I’m praying for us in particular because it isn’t easy being untethered from your church home. Small groups are a help in that, but I worry for my son and husband in that, and I’m grateful for that Navy background I mentioned.
The other reason I’m praying is because like I said last time, God has shown me the why, even if He hasn’t quite shown me how to see what’s missing. And it’s gonna be quite awesome to see Him unfold it, but it has to be Him that does it, because I can’t. Not to sound like a tease, but I’ll tell you that part tomorrow. It’s late and I don’t want to worry Corey being up all night. Until tomorrow, I pray you all listen for God’s whisper, and that He reveals to you your part in His glorious plans.
Be blessed and be a blessing.