I have been staring at this screen for a long time trying to come up with a fresh perspective on my Monday Morning Update. I love sharing with my readers how God is working at The Crossroads, but sometimes I run out of ways to say "Wow." I could talk a long time about what a good job Shawn and Robby did this weekend. I could talk about the cool relationships I see people building with each other in our congregation. I could talk about the some of the specific "next steps" that are happening. But instead, I think that this week I will use this space to share my personal spiritual journey this weekend. Being honest about my ugly attitude is not easy, but I want my readers to see how God can work when we are obedient, even with a grumpy attitude. I want everybody to understand that we all have "those" days when we are defeated and discouraged, but God can still move in big ways.
Last night the owner of the cheer gym contacted us to say that one of the air conditioners was still broken, we probably needed to go ahead and set up so that we did not have the doors to the gym open as long on Sunday morning. We had not planned to do a Saturday set up, honestly because we were smooth wore out after all of our camping adventures. Our house was a mess, my kids were exhausted, we needed a night alone at home to recover and prepare our minds and hearts for worship on Sunday. I was in lots of pain from my sunburn and honestly wanted to take some tylenol and benadryl to get a good night's rest. As we sent out a plea for help, we discovered that most people already had plans for the evening, so only one other couple was available to help.
I was so frustrated and discouraged. Satan uses times of exhaustion to really get in my head.
Last night I was done. I had no desire to go drag the cheer mats with my horribly sore sunburned shoulders. I had a pity party about how much work and sacrifice is involved in a church plant. I felt sorry for myself that being in the ministry means leading by example which means that we never ask anyone to give more, work harder, or sacrifice any more than what we do. My pity party was so huge that Shawn decided to contact that other couple to cancel. There are times when I am not suitable to be around others and last night was certainly one of those times. He was actually holding his phone and dialing when God got through to my brain. God reminded me why we are doing what we are. We were going in to set up on a Saturday night so that visitors who arrived on Sunday could experience comfortable temperatures and be more receptive to the gospel. God reminded me that sunburned shoulders don't compare to nail scarred hands. God reminded me that my focus doesn't belong on me. My focus belongs on others. I was being selfish. He showed me a clear vision all over again about why we are doing this church planting gig. I stopped Shawn and said, "Having comfortable temperatures for our visitors is more important than us getting a night off to rest. It's not about us." I said the right words, but my attitude was lagging a little behind my obedience.
Sure enough, we arrived at the cheer gym, and it was hot. I was in a horribly foul mood about having to spend my Saturday evening doing the set up. But before the night was over, two families arrived to help and my discouragement turned to awe. You see, these are both families that have only recently begun attending The Crossroads. They gave up their Saturday evenings to help set up in the heat, and they aren't paid to do ministry. The only reason they arrived to help is because they wanted to be used by God. It's beautiful to see new families plugging in to service. As we were leaving, I was not tired, I had forgotten the pain in my shoulders, and I was refreshed by being with some Crossroadies. I turned around for one last look at the empty chairs. I realized that God had a plan for each one of those chairs. Each of those chairs was a special seat for a person that God had arranged to meet with on Sunday morning. I began praying over those chairs, and the people that would arrive the next morning, and God began to work in my heart and move me to worship.
This morning as I awoke, I remembered those chairs waiting expectantly. I began immediately praying for our services and had some incredible worship time before I ever left the house today. You see, God took my grumpy obedience, and used it to remind me of our vision and our purpose as The Crossroads. Everything that we do, we do to love others - especially those who may not know Jesus yet. Seeing the empty chairs reminded me that God's work in Anna and at The Crossroads is just beginning. I don't want to miss out on anything that He has in store. My bad attitude almost kept me from seeing those chairs and seeing God at work and sensing His promise for the future. I'm glad that I did not give in to that voice in my head, and instead remembered that making our environment more comfortable for visitors is more important than my own personal comfort. (By the way, this is not meant to be any type of guilt trip for anyone...just a confession of my own bad attitude and my need for a refocus.)
As I went into The Crossroads already worshiping, it was cool to join my worship with the worship of the other people there today, to become one voice of praise lifted up to a holy and amazing God. The worship set simply extended the worship I was already engaged in. As a matter of fact, at this point I cannot remember all the songs that we sang. It was all blurred together with my own internal song of worship of my Creator. It's a challenge to explain how my internal music works, so I only know to say it was an amazing worship experience. By this time I had played/sang probably 20 or more songs, so I honestly don't remember which ones were in the set and on which ones I was worshiping alone. I was sincerely just that lost in worship today.
Shawn continued his God at the Movies series with a sermon on "Harry Potter" - love that leaves a mark. It was a great sermon about how sacrificial love is life changing. You should be able to hear the sermon soon at www.welcometothecrossroads.com Be sure to listen to all the sermons in this series.
I don't know where God is headed next. In my personal life, God's doing some stuff that I can't explain in words. I am seeing some huge shifts in what I expected from God in my life and what is actually happening. So much of what's going on doesn't make any sense to me at all. But this I am sure of. God has big plans. He is on the move and is looking for people to work alongside Him. I'm in. Anybody else? I'm saying yes in advance to whatever God wants me to do, wherever he wants me to go - without knowing the desination or the details. And yes, that is exciting and scary all at the same time.