“It’s okay to move on.”
I kept repeating this to myself as my husband drove us out to Washington township. He wanted to listen to one of the men in his bible study preach at a different church.
“It’s a small church, not like you’re used too, but I really would like to give it a try.” He said.
“Okay honey” I said with a smile. Knowing inside I was scared to death. I loved my church. I had been there since 2008. Right when my previous marriage took a left turn for the worse. My daughters and I were baptized there in 2014, we volunteered for their Shine dances, spring clean-up, I even joined their medical team. My husband and I were married there and became members in 2015. Eight years I’ve put into this church, I can’t just up and leave!
I felt like I betrayed someone. But who? There were several pastors that had touched our lives on a twice weekly basis from mid-week service to Sunday morning service. I had become quite partial to listening to Pastor Steve preach, I had brought friends in who now belong and still attend. But things became different, things started…changing.
And that’s when God starting changing me.
Will they have my coffee I can sip while I listen to the sermon? What about jeans? I’m okay to wear jeans right? Oh my gosh I hadn’t even thought about the music! The music my church celebrated was like a rock concert! Music is so important to me, what do I do if it’s a one man band? All I listen to is Christian “rock music” on a daily basis. So much that my eighteen year old would catch herself singing the songs. And trust me, she’s the first one to say “Ah no way Ma, we’re changing this!”
I stepped out of the car and we approached the front doors, now this church doesn’t exactly have its home yet, it’s being held in the cafeteria of an elementary school. But I was okay with that, I was used to that with my church; building new churches as they ‘borrowed’ space from other places, cheering them on when they finally launched the new building.
I remember how driven I was when my church first spoke about launching a new campus in Traverse City. That was it! My husband and I always spoke about retiring there! Suddenly I felt this great pull that this was it! My daughters were out of high school we could make the move easily with his boys. I could feel the tug at my chest stronger each service, twice a week, with every announcement of their future campus, my future campus!
But then there was my wedding presents (stepson’s)Mom, my job, my husband starting a fresh career. Would the girls come with us at their ages of eighteen and twenty-one? Would they just commute for the summers? Could I handle that distance without them? It was all to much to bear. But I continued to feel that pull every Sunday. I prayed and prayed and prayed for an answer, some guidance, some kind of sign, but nothing came. Traverse City campus was launched; and I was not a part of it.
Did I miss the call? Was it that pull? I became so lost. This wasn’t like me, I was always able to find a way. But this time, I couldn’t. I felt my heart-break and my world crash.
So I took a deep breath, walked to the doors squeezing my husband’s hand like it was the only life support I had.
There were three gentlemen standing outside on this beautiful day. Each one with a warmer smile then the next along with a welcoming handshake with the statement of “Good morning, We’re happy to have you here with us today.”
Um, okay wow. That was different. Sure I had greeters meet us at my church but the gentleman in the middle; well, I was introduced to him by my husband. “Pastor Steve, (how ironic, another Pastor Steve!) I’d like you to meet my wife, Lori”.
WAIT A MINUTE !! HOLD THE PHONE!! The Pastor himself is outside shaking hands, being a greeter? Shouldn’t he be behind the big stage? Isn’t he suppose to be looking over his notes, detailing his scriptures? Come on!
Okay, yes..it captured my attention to say the least.
As we entered the school there were a few more greeters each shaking our hands and saying my name in their sentence of…”Welcome Lori”, Nice to meet you Lori”, “So glad you could join us Lori,”
It was okay, I could breath, I wasn’t terrified, I didn’t die. It was different, still overwhelming (even I’m not that outgoing) but I was still willing to take my chances. After all, I had my husband holding my hand, with him next to me I can do anything.
We turned the corner along the hallway to make our way to the cafeteria and suddenly this aroma hit me, there it was…a COFFEE STATION!
Thank you, Jesus!! No, really, thank you!
A couple of Keurigs were whirring up some java, hot cocoa, tea, even hot cider. There was table with bagels and cream cheese also. (I try to stay away from bagels, there like the devil to my diet that I never actually commit to) But it was pleasant, I felt pretty good, I actually passed up the station and kept walking because apparently my coffee-cup-in-hand security blanket wasn’t needed. Once again, I’m still surviving.
We took to some seats in the center and waited for service to start. Once the worship team started to play the parishioners began to stand. We joined them listening to the songs. They were delivered differently, there was no fog lamps, no fancy lighting and no flash photography. But they still used the same words, and it’s the words that touch me, not all those ‘extra’s.’ But it took me until now to learn that.
Okay, Lord I can hear you loud and clear. Suddenly I felt like that childhood book I used to read “Are you there God, it’s me Margaret”. Only I this time, I was Margaret.
My church did a great deal for me while I was there. But, this church is more my speed; which surprises me still, learning more about myself daily is a good thing. Opening up out of my comfort zone to find Christ in more places than one is also a good thing.
I should have known things would be fine. After all, He was the one who put me here. And I can’t wait to see what He has in store for me in the coming years.
So what’s the final score you ask, Pastor Steve(s) 0, Jesus 1
“Be grateful. Be sorry. Then and only then, can you truly ask for help”