After 13 years in ministry, today is my last Sunday as a pastor’s wife.
I never expected to fall in love with a church. But I did. And it is hard to say goodbye when you know your heart wants to stay behind.
This is only our second church, but I did not always love it. The truth is, when we had been here only for one year, I was ready to walk away. Walk away from this church. Then the second year I was ready to walk away from ministry. To walk away form church for a while. I’d been hurt. Deeply. I did not believe we had a future here. I begged my husband for us to leave, I knew if things were hard for me, it was nothing compared to what he had to go through. But he was certain God wanted us here.
Then three years ago God spoke to me about what was happening in my heart, and what He saw for His church. It happened at a Writer’s Retreat, and you can read about it here, because I came back from that retreat and I killed our church with a rock.
Sunday morning after church I stood outside facing the building. I told my husband I had one thing I needed to do.
I reached into my pocket to grab the rock and held it in my hand real tight.
I thought about the bitterness, the broken relationships, the hurt, the manipulation, the loneliness of the church, my own doubt, my unbelief, my sin; the dead bones.
And I threw that rock as hard as I could, a symbol of killing the giant that has been keeping God from breathing life into this place.
And I prayed, “Come from the four winds. Come, breath. Breathe on us. Breathe life!”
And I believe He is.
I cannot tell you I know exactly how things changed after that, but they did.
I don’t know how it happened, but it did.
Our church is unique. Unique in many ways. The most obvious difference is that if you walked into our church today you would immediately notice that our church is the church where adults and families impacted by disability belong. A place where people are real. A place where people do not pretend they have it all together because we are willing to be honest.
Our church is the most beautiful and vulnerable community I have ever been a part of. And this is why I fell in love.
These are the people who I fell in love with.
I can be me. Completely me.
There is no pretending, I don’t have to have it all together, there are no mighty expectations placed on me.
This is a very rare gift to receive as a pastor’s wife.
That is why last September when I felt God call me into ministry – a ministry away from our church – I was not sure what to think about it. Why would God not want us here? But when I talked to my husband – who was working on his maser’s degree in Counseling – he too felt that God was calling us into different areas in ministry. Andy felt God had called him to this church to do something specific, and now that we have accomplished the task, it is time for us to move on and allow the next person to come and grow this church.
It is hard to find your heart invested in one place and to then feel God move you in a different direction. And as hard as it is, we know we have to follow God’s call.
For Andy, that calling takes him away from being a pastor to become a Counselor.
For me – and if you have been around here for a while – you know I have a burning passion to see every church embrace disability. I started an organization called Disability Matters where I help churches begin conversations about disability, understand disability from a biblical perspective, help them figure out what a disability ministry looks like specifically to their congregation, and I do consulting and coaching. I also host a weekly podcast called The Accessible Church, and it has been so exciting to see how God is using this resources to reach out to church leaders.
And although it is exciting to see where God is taking this ministry, it is not with great sadness that we say goodbye.
I love these people. They are my friends. My family.
And I want to hold on to them a little bit longer.
I want to continue to do life with these incredible group of people. It has been an honor to be the pastor’s wife in this congregation.
I am who I am today because of my little church. I have grown and learned and become passionate about disability ministry through the people I have served, and the people who have served me.
There is no perfect church, but I tell you this, serving in this church was a privilege, and there will never be another church like this one. What we have is unique, it is real, it is strong. We are a Luke 14 church. Everyone belongs here.
God breathed life into the once dead bones and I see a thriving church full of life.
So how do you say goodbye to the life you have lived for 13 years? How do you step out in faith when you do not know what comes next and you simply trust that this is what God wants you to do? We don’t have a next job, we don’t have a set plan. We are trusting God completely and stepping out in obedience.
And we do it because God knew we would be here, in this place, at this time, and under these circumstances. God is in this, and God is good.
And I will treasure all the days I spent at Orchard View Church.