Monday, August 8, 2011

Taken Away



This morning, sitting in a brand new home surrounded by boxes and the silence of sleeping children, I opened up my bible. The passage I happened to turn to was Daniel chapters four and five. Despite my whole-hearted belief in the sovereignty of the Lord, I forget His ordination of even a page I turn to so randomly.

Two years ago we left a church full of deep relationships to pursue selfish ambition at another church who like on a first date had been on her best behavior. The move there was unsettling and not very joyful. Literally after about two months into the new church I now refer to as the Bermuda Triangle, we began to recognize a crumbly foundation, deep character flaws and manipulation on catastrophic levels, that would later even attempt to assault our marriage. Toughing it out for fifteen months until things transpired to a point we could not in good conscience continue to keep our family there, we turned our resignation in and literally only one individual in leadership even attempted to hear our account of events. Severence was offered for three months as long as we followed a gag order and what followed was months of struggle - deep emotional stress, nausea, insomnia, nightmares, spiritual depression and isolation.

As painful as this experience was - a shock to my little girl brought up in church senses - I knew even this time was from His almighty hand. Since this location had been such a train wreck, we prayed for God to give us clarity, and over and over again, we received a clear "no," either we or they didn't feel we were a right fit or we would be the second choice out of sometimes seventy applicants. It was exhausting waiting, struggling day to day just to keep up. Months of searching for employment saying "Lord, we will go Wherever you want, just show us where," took us literally to other countries even, yet we didn't 'hear' a call. After the end of a weeks long interview series with multiple churches, we decided to stop looking and figure out how to survive where we were.

Shane and I had had our own little happy kingdom that we chose to leave. It was by God's hand of judgement and grace He took us away into this isolation. Even His putting us on a main road instead of a neighborhood kept us isolated. After so many months of struggling, not just financially, but deeply battling to understand this affliction and the injustice of our voice not being heard, we knew it was brought by our Father, and asked over and over again to be taken away from this Bermuda Triangle that we couldn't escape on our own. He led us to a church plant in North Atlanta where we were welcomed and our wounds began to heal. Their kindness went beyond appearances and they weren't afraid to enter into that pain with us. Just as we began to feel comfortable there, our Lord would take us away.

One weekend while the children and I spent time with family out of town, my husband went to a lunch with a couple of men who were a part of an online network of worship leaders. One of them passed my husband's contact information to a pastor friend whose church was in search of a worship leader. By the time my husband got home from that meeting, he already had an email from the pastor. Just days later he met the pastors in person and soon after our family went to worship and interview with their session and we knew we had found our call.

I am still certain that it is from His Hand we are afflicted with all kinds of hardships, but it also by His hand we were and are blessed. It was His judgement of our selfish ambition and non-recognition of His blessings, but also was His grace to take us into the valley to teach us, to reveal our need for all that He IS. It was His mercy and grace to bring us back to life, back to community. The judgement and grace of my King, so intertwined, so hard, but so GOOD is such a mystery.

I cannot begin to describe the blessings and community we have experienced in these past four days since moving. Moment after moment we have experienced being the exception to the rule in how we came to rest in a lovely brand new home, how we needed a washer and dryer and were given some the day we moved in, how when we arrived our porch was filled with kind people waiting to help - unloading the trucks in less than two hours, how delicious meals have been brought to our door each evening so we can focus on unpacking and settling in, meeting new neighbors and their children joining ours in play.....The kindness and community is overwhelming and so good for this broken, patched up heart.

At every turn God is winking at me, reminding me that each gift is from Him. His very taking us away from what we had made into our little earthly heaven into isolation - His grace and judgement intertwined is GOOD. He took us from what seemed like such a desperate situation and lifted us out so we could recognize His might hand in every moment.

My little kingdom wasn't near as vast as King Nebuchadnezzar's, but like him, God drove us from what we called 'life,' took us away until we knew that it is He who gives and He who takes away - yet He is Lord and He IS Good. In His judgement AND His grace He takes us away to Himself.

May each of us be taken away........away from this cluttered, selfish, culturized frame of mind and into the hand of our King, our Maker, the one who ordains our steps and calls us His own.


2 comments:

  1. Oh Andrea,

    I am so sorry for your pain and the difficulties you have faced.

    This post hits home for me in some ways.

    Yet your heart and spirit are stilled and beautiful.

    "May each of us be taken away........away from this cluttered, selfish, culturized frame of mind and into the hand of our King, our Maker, the one who ordains our steps and calls us His own."

    Amen.

    I will be waiting with eager expectation to see what God will be doing next for your family.

    Thank you for sharing your story, your heart, your loss and your joy.

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  2. Dear Andrea,
    I can't tell you how thankful Wesley and I are to finally see the end of a painful season for you, Shane and your rare and beloved children. Your grief was like a knife through our hearts yet we could see God doing some transforming work in you both that would not only serve you well in your personal lives, but in ministry. Thank you for sharing your honest account, your gut-wrenching pain of a season that felt like it would emotionally kill your hearts but God used it to fuel you for a ministry that needs the growth that came from the things you have learned in that season. I hate how the church wounded you, wronged you. It was sin. I appreciate you sharing your sin own as well. The strength you have now gained is that of David when he refused to let go and give up due to "the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living." You both are such a tremendous encouragement, blessing to the Body of Christ at large. Keep it coming and know you are dearly, dearly loved.

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