We don’t get to choose the path God’s calls us to; however, we do get to choose whether or not we obey. If obedience was easy, we would all do it and we would do it immediately. I know most people we know (and those we don’t) are very curious as to what we’re doing and why. I thought the easiest way to explain was to write a blog. God has been pushing me to do this for a long time but writing doesn’t come easily to me (hence the delayed obedience.)
Let me start by backing up about a year or so ago. The Lord starting working in our hearts to reveal that our time in youth ministry had come to a close. We both fought against this because we loved our students and we were COMFORTABLE. I have come to believe being comfortable is an enemy of your faith walk. Plus we hadn’t felt God call us to anything else so, why would you leave a place where you get a paycheck, your pastor allows you the freedom to run your ministry as you feel led, you love the people in your church, you can make your own schedule, and you’re not a trust fund baby that has money to live off of? This is the million dollar question. The only answer I have is: we would rather be obedient to Christ than be comfortable. I know this sounds soooo cliché. Trust me, I don’t say this lightly. Especially now that money is really tight, we still have no specific direction, and everyone around us thinks we have lost our minds. (Just to be clear, I would think we were crazy if I were in their shoes.) I do not say that judgmentally because I know for most people it comes from a place of love for us. We do not want the people we love to suffer but scripture is quite clear that in this life we will suffer hardships. I have always said that we don’t hear God the most from the mountaintop but from the valley. I would definitely say that we have had to seek the Lord more than we have in a long time (I hate to admit that but it’s true.)
We fought God’s path for us for at least a year. Then, we go to Guatemala in June for our annual mission trip with our students. While there, our friend Mynor led a devotion on John 10. He was referencing the scripture that talks about the sheep hearing the shepherd’s voice. He also referenced the fact that shepherd’s lead the sheep. They don’t get behind them and push them (which is how you herd cow’s) but they get in front and lead them. After the devotion, Jon and I talked and we both knew that there was no doubt about what God was telling us, the question was were we going to obey/follow or not. We went on a hike to the top of a mountain the next day because there was a beautiful view from the crest of the mountain. On the way up the mountain, Jon and I decided to tell our children what we felt God was saying to us. When we reached the top of the mountain, the fog and clouds were so thick, you couldn’t see your hand in front of your face. We took our kids up to the top of a lookout tower to tell them about our decision and as we were up there, the clouds parted and the most magnificent view came into sight. After this, God showed me an illustration that I have clung to ever since. God knew that view was there, we didn’t see it because of the fog but when God chose to remove the fog, we were able to see what He saw all along. That’s the picture of faith. Believing in what we cannot see. We planned on talking to Pastor Eddie when we returned and following through with the path God was showing us. I hate to admit this, but after we returned, we found every excuse and reason in the book not to do this. Basically, we decided to disobey. Yes, folks, we make decisions to disobey, it doesn’t just happen. Months go by, we get to November and decide to start a series by Craig Groeschel at CO2. The first lesson was on Fearing God. Basically, it was saying that when we, as Christians, disobey God then we are basically saying we don’t fear Him. CONVICTION struck me so hard. We can’t teach our students first time obedience if we aren’t willing to do the same thing. People learn by what we do, not what we say. I called Jon on the way home and said these exact words: “I can’t do this anymore.” He agreed and he told our pastor the following Monday. I can’t explain how you can be happy and devastated at the same time but that was how we felt. Pastor Eddie was so gracious to us and let us stay for our last trip to the Passion Conference in Atlanta with our students. Our official last day with The Orchard Community Church and CO2 student ministry was January 4, 2016. For those that don’t know the history of CO2, Jon and I started this ministry under the leadership of The Orchard Community Church 8 years ago. We have been blessed to minister to hundreds of teens and their parents. God gave us the opportunity to work with some of the most amazing leaders to ever work in youth ministry (just my opinion no offense to anyone else) so you can imagine how difficult this was to walk away from. Trust me, this decision was not easy nor was it made quickly. However, as Christians WE MUST CHOOSE TO OBEY GOD’S PATH OR CHOOSE OUR OWN PATH. Honestly, it really wasn’t a choice because the conviction of the Holy Spirit was making us miserable.
I completely understand that even after all this explanation many of you will still not understand our decision and that is perfectly ok. I will still love you and I do not place judgement on you. My words seem so inadequate to explain so I will resort to a story from the book of Genesis to assist. In Genesis 12:1-5, God calls Abraham, who at this point is called Abram, to take his family and all his belongings and leave his home. He doesn’t tell him where he is going until he obeys. He just says to go. Abraham took his wife, his nephew Lot and his wife, and all their possessions and left. I think we believe that just because Abraham’s story is in the Bible that he was just happy to obey and up and leave. Abraham was just as we are; he had feelings and emotions just like us. I feel sure he was comfortable where he was. However, he decided to obey. We all know the end result. He was blessed immeasurably. He was the father to a great nation and his name is still spoken of today. I am by no means comparing us to Abraham, however, his story gives me great comfort.
The following passage is taken from The Everyday Bible. “Abraham learned to trust God to lead him one step at a time. God essentially told him, Trust Me with this first, because it is best for you to go where I lead you. At that time, Abraham might have wondered whether or not packing up his tent and leaving his family and his country would be to his advantage, but God told him to go to the place that He would show him, and Abraham simply obeyed. We can’t forget that God required a sacrifice of obedience before Abraham could receive the promise. Abraham had to be willing to leave the place where he was comfortable; he had to leave his father and all of his relatives. And he did; he simply moved in faith to the place God said He would show him.”
Lord, my prayer is: May we have the faith to hang in there to see the place You are going to show us. We choose to be obedient, help us not to falter even though times are tough. May You be glorified in this trial.
Please feel free to call or contact us with any questions. You will not offend us. We are a very transparent couple and telling our story helps solidify our faith and our resolve to be obedient. Jon’s cell: 386-623-2016. Vanessa’s cell: 386-288-6084.
P.S. Kickin’ It 4 The King is NOT closing down. We are simply trying to cut costs during this time. We will be moving the office back to our house. God allowed us to minister just this week to a mom and her children with some furniture they were in need of.