This week has been insanely busy. We had events (both family and church) at our house 6 days this week. Six days of having a minimum of 10 people in the house. Several days of having more than 25 people in the house. We ran out of bath towels this morning because I had been too busy to wash them. And we have a ridiculous number of towels to work with… But as I prepared Sunday dinner for 12 people today, I was reminded that serving God doesn’t always look like what you planned.
Between meals with newcomers to the church, to house groups, to Bible studies and birthday parties for a teenager, life has just been crazy. The good kind of crazy where the church is growing and people are being reached and ministered to.
But if you would have told me 10 years ago (even 3 1/2 years ago), that I would return to my home church with my own family and that my husband would be the pastor I would have told you that you were crazy. We were missionaries overseas and never thought that would change. We planned to stay overseas ‘forever’.
Three years ago that changed when we needed to leave the country we were serving to seek a diagnosis for our youngest daughter, who we later learned has Rett Syndrome. Because of many of her issues we were unable to travel anymore and living in a country with an antiquated medical system was no longer an option.
I was mad.
I was hurt.
I wanted to know what I had done wrong.
We took 2 years off from full-time ministry to adjust to life with Rett Syndrome looming over our heads. Two years to get our feet on the ground as a family and adjust back to life in the United States. Two years to heal from the hurt of leaving the mission field that we had set our hearts on.
Because when God’s plan for you doesn’t match the plan you made, it can hurt. A lot.
Not an “I hate God” hurt, but an “I love these people we’ve served so much that I can’t bear the thought of leaving them.”
My babies. Spiritual children.
I didn’t want to leave them.
Serving God didn’t look anything like my plan.
It took two years to be able to allow people into my life again.
My husband had received several requests from churches to become their pastor, but none of them had seemed right.
Six months ago we were given the opportunity to pastor the church I went to as a teenager. It was the one place that we had wanted to go other than going overseas. We knew that this is where God wanted us, but I was scared.
I was scared to allow people back into my life. To love them, to minister to them, to befriend them.
We’ve been here for almost 4 months now and this week… this.week. 6 days of busy. 6 days of constantly being around people. 6 days of smiling and making meals and cleaning and serving…
This week has been the turning point. Yes, amazing things happened. Yes, it has been a really special week. But it wasn’t the awesome services or people getting baptized that was the turning point for me.
It was the hot dogs and macaroni and cheese that I made for the tweens and teens that gathered around my table today. I should have been ready to collapse from this busy week, but I had let these teens and this church into my heart and there is nothing that I would have rather been doing than grilling hot dogs and making macaroni and cheese.
Has serving God looked different from what you planned? Are you feeling hurt from the changes that have come to your life?
Take a minute today and ask God to help you see what serving Him looks like in your life right now. Maybe it’s not making a random meal…
Maybe it’s visiting a nursing home.
Maybe it’s taking food to a new mom.
Maybe it’s focusing on your own family.
However you are serving God, let Him bring the joy back into your heart.