When you first started to step out in faith and serve the Lord, were you under the impression it would be easy? Yeah, me too.
What a wake up call I got!
Sometimes I feel like as leaders of ministries, we often try to “hide” our struggles, our thoughts, our questions, our anger, irritations, burdens, and our “why?”.
Why do we do that? Why do we feel like we can’t share those kinds of things? Are we just too proud, do we think it will minimize or water down our witness? Why can’t we feel comfortable in just letting it out there? I mean, after all, we have a big God who can handle all our questions, thoughts, feelings and such. So why do we go to such great lengths to hide it?
Then…..I finally figured it out…..
It’s not God that gets me, it’s PEOPLE.
Is it ok if I be transparent for a minute? I honestly believed that when God called me to serve in volunteer ministry, it would be one of the most easiest thing I ever did….I was convinced it had to be, because if God called me, then why would He make it rough? Didn’t He realize that rough times makes people want to quite, I mean, really, who in their right mind would VOLUNTEER to get beat up on a regular basis. Surely, God knows this, right?
I started serving in ministry in the early 2000s when I first started attending Christ Church. I was blessed to meet an amazing lady who, at the time, literally took me under her wing and poured in to me. Under her, I developed a heart for serving the least of these. She and I became the best of friends. As I continued in my faith walk God later called me to step out from under her wing and start a new ministry called Winter Patrol. This was a homeless ministry that literally took Jesus to those living on the streets.
In the beginning, it was a slow ministry. Working with the homeless is not for everybody, that’s for sure. But in just a matter of a year, God blew that ministry in to something incredible. Our team grew by leaps and bounds We went out each month to feed, clothe and love on those who most people try to avoid. We shared Christ, we prayed for people. We developed close, personal relationships with those who found themselves in troubled times.
For me personally, my spirit life exploded during those times on the street. I developed a new found compassion and understanding for things I used to be judgemental of. My compassion for loving others grew beyond more than I could ever imagine.
In time, as the ministry continued to grow, so did the spirits of others on the team. It wasn’t long before some were feeling called by God to step out from under my wing and do other things with the homeless. Each time a new ministry “bloomed”, I was so excited because I knew that it was birthed from Winter Patrol. It was exciting to see a part of a ministry develop in to something unique, and it was even more exciting so watch the person who was obedient to God, step out and be faithful in what He was calling them to do.
From Winter Patrol. birthed ministries such as Birthday Wishes, a ministry that gave birthday parties to homeless children living in shelters, and Back Pack Attack (which is still continuing to this day)
While some of the ministries that birthed from Winter Patrol are no longer active, others are. I celebrate that each and every time I hear of the works they are doing.
One day, out of the blue, God had laid on my heart that it was time to let Winter Patrol go. I was heart broken. This was a ministry that was very personal to me and now He was asking me to walk away. I didn’t want to. I LOVED this ministry. I didn’t understand why He would ask this of me. I literally went in to mourning.
I am not even kidding.
I mourned the loss of something that had been such an active part of my life for the previous 10 years. I could not understand why God wanted me to step away.
What I do know is that God was very clear when He said that I was to step down. He told me that He had something else for me.
What I wasn’t prepared for was all that would happen when He called me to the next thing. In about 2015, He started laying on my heart a very specific ministry He wanted me to do. I did my best, for almost 2 years to blow Him off. I could not bring myself to even think about what He was asking.
I knew there would be a price to pay, and quite frankly, I wasn’t, at that time, willing to pay the price. God and I wrestled back and forth for quite some time. I was stubborn, I was being hard headed and I wouldn’t listen. Instead, I found myself acting like a defense attorney on any local tv show. I put God on the witness stand and grilled Him on why He thought this was a good idea. I remember thinking if there was a jury, they would surely rule in my favor.
But God didn’t let up.
Then, one day I was at Church.
(isn’t this is where all great stories start….with that famous line of “one day, I was at church)
Anyway, I was at Church. For some reason, I had arrived early that day. My husband was working so I was alone. I was sitting in the sanctuary listening to the band practice. I will never forget that moment. It was if God sat next me, held my hand, (or maybe smacked me, I am not sure which, to be honest) and said to me” My daughter, you have served me well, I know your heart is hurting, but I have more work for you to do, even bigger work. Work that overfill your heart more than you can ever comprehend. Now, I need you to make that right turn and go a different direction for me”
It was at that very moment that Right Turn Ministries was formed. God asked me to make a right turn and go a different direction. I remember texting my husband at that very moment and said “God just told me to make a right turn and go a different direction. I think that is a new ministry name”
He simply replied “About Time…..”
You see, my husband is one of the most Godlies men I know, he is obedient to God without ever second guessing Him. I long to be that person someday. He knew all along God was calling me to do something, and he watched me fight that battle every single day, so I think a part of him was relieved when I finally said yes.
But then it happened…..
IT GOT REALLY HARD!!!
I had finally said “yes” to God, I was super excited, I got busy working to get a new ministry up and running and before I knew it, I experienced hardship like I hadn’t prepared for.
I wasn’t prepared for people to be angry at me for saying Yes to God
I wasn’t prepared for the backlash I would soon take
I wasn’t prepared to lose my mentor and one of my closest and dearest friend
I. WAS. NOT. PREPARED!
I guess I just assumed that people would be like my husband, excited to watch somebody be obedient. I guess I assumed that those who had poured in to me all those years ago would be excited to see a new ministry birthed….much like I was excited when I saw new ministries birthed from Winter Patrol.
It wasn’t like that.
In fact, shortly after RTM was born, I remember being summoned to a “meeting” where I won’t go in to detail what was said, but just know I left in tears. I came home, curled up next to my husband and cried out “I can’t do this….it’s not worth It. Serving God isn’t supposed to be hard”
He almost choked. Literally, he chuckled. And yes, that made me even more mad. “Really?” I asked him…”you are laughing right now”. I saw NO humor in this what so ever.
He simply took my hand and said “Sweetie, who ever told you serving Jesus would be easy? Have you not read your Bible??? The ones whom Jesus hand chose to serve by his side all died….and died horrible deaths”
This was not helping. Not even a little.
I had just taken a verbal beating from somebody whom I once held in high regard, and now my husband was lecturing me on how the disciples all died.
This was a crappy day. I am not even gonna lie about that.
But you know what, my husband was right.
Life is not fair.
It is not fair that Jesus had to die on a cross for you and me….but he did
It is not fair that when we say “yes” to God, that our brothers and sisters in Christ cannot celebrate…but some won’t.
It is not fair that not everybody is passionate about what God calls you to…but they aren’t
Jesus, in His own words told us that serving Him would be hard. In fact, it is recorded in scripture time and time again. “Whoever wishes to be my disciple must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.”
Clearly He knew that following Him would come at great cost.
Here is what I have found to be truth in serving:
- There is an enemy that wants those who serve Christ out of a job and all out of faith. Satan is not going down without a fight. He will use things like stress, weariness, discouragement and what others think about us come to stop us from doing the work that God has called us to do. He will hit below the belt. He plays dirty. He will use the least likely of people to do his dirty work.
- God Wins in the end. Even though I know God wins, I still believe that God allows challenges, trials and a lot of hardships to remind us always that the ministry works is never about us, but instead about the grace and favor of God over our lives and over our ministries.
- We are working for Jesus. We need to remember that. We don’t answer to anybody else. Don’t listen to the haters out there…listening to the cynicism and negativity will destroy you. (*disclaimer..I am still working on this one**)
- People will hurt you. They will let you down. But Jesus will never disappoint you. Wake up every day and ask how you can serve him. This will free you to love people, regardless of the words others speak or the actions they take.
- Realize that life isn’t fair. Get over it.
- Go out and Love God and Love People. You won’t regret it