Thursday, May 1, 2014

A Different Kind of Announcement

Okay, so I've been meaning to blog about this for a while. A long while.

Yes, we are moving. There, I said it. Does that make it more real? To Crystal Lake, Illinois, a suburb outside of Chicago. We are going to help in the upstart of a church there.

Really, I should probably start this story from the beginning. Crud, I don't want to blog right now. I am tired. I've been taking care of three little kids all day and I'm really just done. Please excuse any spelling or grammar errors, this is going to be just raw and real. Lord help me.

Where do I even begin?

About three and a half years ago we met a couple, Gabriel and Debbie Mayes. They came to Little Rock to start a business called QBot back then it was Qpon Revolution. They came to our church and just knew the Lord had led them there. Gabriel immediately started serving with me on the worship team. They are the kind of people who don't waste any time. They jump in with both feet. It's all or nothing with them. Gabriel is direct and passionate, he is a leader to the core. Debbie is quiet but has a fierceness about her (I'm pretty sure it's the irish blood that runs through her veins) that holds her to her convictions. For some reason, in their two years here in Little Rock the Lord knit our hearts together. I could call Debbie the night before and ask her to watch my kids the next morning. We had them over for dinner, they had us over. Gabriel and Ben would have game nights with other guys and go see movies together. They were the first couple who had ever mutually pursued us as we pursued them. We just clicked.

Anyways, around November of 2012 they told us they were going up to Chicago to start a church with Gabriel's cousin, Nick and his wife Lyndie. They challenged us to come with them. Honestly, in my head I thought "No way I'm leaving Little Rock, God has us here, I like it here, family is here, we're good." In other words, I was thinking, "in your dreams."  I was good and I didn't even need to pray about it.

Ben prayed about it and we didn't feel a peace about going. I was like, "of course" … :) I remember having one last meal with the Mayes and Gabriel saying that he had no doubts that we would end up in ministry together at some point. I'm being so honest here… I thought, yeah, when y'all come back to Little Rock, we will have ministry together. One thing I need to learn  in my life is to never say never.

The next year I decided to read through the Bible chronologically. I had never read through in a year before. I've read most of the Bible at different times, but for some reason I took the challenge and actually succeeded. I don't even know how.

Well, in mid July I remember reading a passage in Jeremiah. The israelites were asking Jeremiah for a word from the Lord. This was after most of them had been taken off into captivity in Babylon. God had a command for those who were to stay. He told them, "Do not go down to Egypt. (this is Jody paraphrasing) You think it will be safe there and you will be protected. But I want you to stay in Israel and live here even though it feels dangerous. If you go down to Egypt just know that sword and famine will follow you." So I thought, where is my Egypt? Lord, where do I seek comfort and ease? Am I where the Lord wants me? I remember talking to a friend about it and she was like, "This is Egypt." Referring to our easy, beautiful life down here in Little Rock.

Slowly, the Lord was pushing me out of my comfort zone.

Around September Gabriel came down to Little Rock to visit. I thought the issue was dead, but he took Ben out for dinner and laid out the whole reason why they want they Hefners up in Chicago to help with their church. It had been going for several months and they were doing exciting things in ministry. My heart was still in an "I'm never leaving Little Rock, it's way too good here" mentality. Ben and I talked afterward and I said, "So you turned him down right?" His response surprised me. He was excited about the church up there. He was really and truly considering it. I asked him why and his response cracked open my door to the possibility. He said, "No one has ever challenged me so much in the Lord as Gabriel Mayes. I don't always agree with him, but he has pushed me further into scripture than any other guy."

This gave me pause. … My husband wants to be around other men who cause him to grow closer to the Lord. I will move to the other side of the world for that.

So we prayed. Ben fasted. He told me that he wanted me to receive a word from the Lord as well, it couldn't just be him. I was still riding the reluctant train with the dread of the possibility of leaving family.

Enter October. This is the part of the chronological reading plan where Jesus FINALLY comes. By this time in your reading you are so tired of the Israelites and their kings and then their oppression and prophets, it's weary. So Jesus finally comes on the scene. Since all the gospels happen simultaneously I started to just read where Jesus was calling the disciples. God is good because if it had just been one or two callings I would have totally overlooked it. But I kept reading: follow Me, follow Me over and over. It was making me uncomfortable. They would ask Jesus questions like, "Where are you staying tonight?" and He would say vague things like, "Come and see." You mean… maybe we won't always know where we will be staying? This doesn't sound very safe and secure. Ummmm …

I think the passage that hit me the hardest was when James and John were fishing with their dad, Zebedee (cool name) and Jesus told them to follow Him. They literally got up and left their nets and their father and followed Jesus. For the first time I saw it from the parent's perspective. He was left there, holding those nets. Maybe he was glad they had been called, but maybe he was also heartbroken that he wouldn't see his sons anymore. I saw my parents and Ben's parents. We love them. We want to stay and hang out with them forever. Seriously, we are so weird. I want my kids to know them well. I want to be near them. But God was nudging me on the shoulder asking me if I could leave them so that I could serve Him.

Was I willing to do that?

Had James and John said, no, we don't want to leave our dad, we love him too much, they would have missed BEING TWO OF THE TWELVE DISCIPLES! Hello! And what would I be giving up in the Lord if I refused to follow Him wherever He would lead me?

The Lord kept telling me that this life is but a vapor. Use it for all it's worth right now because time is passing quickly. We will have an eternity to live near our family and love them. We only have this short life to follow and serve the Lord wherever He leads.

There is definitely more to this story. I'm ending this post, but I reserve the right to post more if needed.

Deep sigh.

Jesus, help us.

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