Just about 6 years ago, Matt and I pulled into the wrong entrance of Mission Hills Church in Greenwood Village, Colorado. We had been married a year and a half and in Colorado for the last 6 months. The first half a year had been pretty tough, Matt in seminary, me in my first nursing job, broke as broke can be, and missing our family. We had not yet found a church that felt like home. And once you have experienced a true church home, it's painful to be lacking that.
It was early January, 2008. Matt's favorite prof had told him about this old Baptist church that had an opening for a youth ministry intern. So we drove in the wrong entrance, parked, and walked into an old and dated, yet inviting sanctuary. The songs were a bit dated as well, which won me over right away. There was an old man in a plaid shirt strumming at a base on the stage. I was crying within minutes.
I was home.
I leaned over to my sweet husband and respectfully told him that I loved this church and if he ever made me leave I would hate him. Forever. And ever.
Matt was the junior high intern 2 weeks later. My work schedule immediately was finagled to fit between youth group, church, and trips.
It's been a busy six years. Uh---understatement. It's been full. Nope….understatement. It has been abundant.
Matt moved from intern to junior high pastor. The church built a new building a few miles south. The staff moved into temporary offices for a year. We started a family. We finished our family. We saw the youth group grow from 40 kids to 200. The church went from 1,200 to over 5,000. Matt got a staff including an admin, a worship director, and an associate, and interns. We started The Adored Conference. We bought our first house. Sold our first house. Bought our second house. We took the youth to camps, retreats, mission trips to Africa and even as crazy as…wait for it…Iowa.
We have made amazing friends. The church ladies (they hate when I call them that :) ) have taught me how to serve my children, how to trust my husband, how to find my identity in Christ. The church leadership has allowed Matt to be Matt, refusing to make him fit into a box. (Matt is NOT a box-fitter-inner) We have seen our dreams take form. It has been exciting, overwhelming, and humbling! We have seen God's powerful hand at work, felt his presence, and trusted his love.
But now, now... we must trust him at an even deeper level than we have known before.
A few weeks ago Matt resigned from Mission Hills.
Saturday we sold our house.
April 4th, we will be moving back to Iowa.
Most everything in my life has changed in the past months.
But not God.
He is still the God of my youth. The God who loves me. The God who gives me grace upon grace. He has always been faithful, and will continue to be.
And NONE of this was a surprise to Him.
And so ALL of this, is ok.
We are going to be ok. There is a lot of change right now, there is a lot of loss. There are people wondering what horrible thing happened that led the Johnsons to resign and then head out of town. And it's not like that. My husband loves me (despite my weaknesses) and LOVES his God. There was no horrible moral failure. We love Mission Hills and are greatly mourning leaving our "family" here.
There are lots of reasons why we are leaving. But they all fit under the honest statement that God has asked us to.
He has led us to close this first chapter of our ministry lives, take a bit of a break, and prepare for the next job that he has for us.
For those of you who read my blog regularly, you can probably pick up on some themes from this last year's entries. Yes, the Johnson's are walking with a bit of a limp right now. And yes, there are a lot of tears. And yes, this has shocked a lot of people. Myself included.
But the bottom line is this: God is good. And he loves us. Loves us more than our weak hearts can comprehend. And so when He says this:
,I can trust him. But I must make sure that I understand that the "GOOD" in that verse, does not refer so much to my comfort, as it does to my character.
So when his Word says
, then I'm going to curl up under the shadow of His wing and wait for the healing. And I'll even pray for a bit of a scar, that I might inspire those who doubt, as Jesus did with Thomas.
So if he says "Leave what you know. Go where I show," then we grab a box of kleenex and head out.
We have preached obedience for 6 years. We have preached of a love worth trusting. We have even said a few times that God adores us, and that living for Him is the way to thrive in life. :) We have preached that there is hope in obedience, that God has adventure for all of us. We have proclaimed that all is loss compared to knowing Christ.
Now it's our turn to live it.
Yet not by our strength. Enduring this amount of upheaval, loss, and change is beyond our abilities.
In fact, we aren't even going to try. We are going to stick with brokenness and desperation as our tactics. That we might find more of Christ's power.
I had a friend remind me of my own words that I had shared with her. That, someday, this will all be summarized in a paragraph. Someday, we will look back at these past months and understand what God was teaching us, where he was leading us, and even how he was protecting us.
Therefore, we will praise Him.