A year ago today I was on my way to Slovakia with a mission team. As I sit here this morning I am reflecting on everything I learned while on that trip and since that trip. The things I learned 3000 miles away have definitely made a difference in my life here in Virginia. I have called on those life lessons over and over again in the past year. My life is basicly the same, but I am not the same person. It’s funny how God works and we make a choice to see him or not. He is in all things and he does indeed make all things new and right in our hearts. We may not have new “things” materially and we must see that it is the spiritual part of us that becomes new. Our hearts, our minds, our souls and our bodies.
One of the things I keep recalling is how we carry our “junk” around. It is heavy, burdensome and tiring. These full buckets represent that junk. The shovel and pickaxe are what God uses to get rid of the junk, chipping it away a little at a time. In order to be in communion with our Creator, we must leave our junk at the foot of the cross. We cannot get the best that God has to offer when we carry this stuff around. When I was called to go to Slovakia I didn’t know what God’s plans were, but I knew that I was going. I had to make a conscious decision to TRUST GOD. Once I did I became much lighter. I wanted to know everything, but that wasn’t in God’s plan. Pastor Ty kept saying “be flexible, be flexible, be flexible.” He was right. How’d he get so smart? 🙂
Once my thought processes, prayers, actions and deeds fell in line with God, then I could move forward. I didn’t have the answers, but I knew I had to trust in Him. So, a year later, I find myself doing the same thing again. Going on a mission.
Hillsville is our Jerusalem. God is asking my family and I to trust in Him-to not have all the answers-and to follow Him to a new worship center, a new time and new people. In the beginning of all of this, I struggled greatly with the time issue and how I was going to have to give up Sunday School to be there. My kids were going to have to give up their classes to be there. I felt like that was too much of a sacrifice, but was it really? Or was it just selfishness?
I had to look at the good of all to get the best of God. I had to recall what it meant to be a team and to work as a team for God. When in Slovakia-we had plans to do this or that and those plans changed every day. Ty said, “be flexible.” Some of us were selfish there. I know I was. I wanted to paint this mural on the wall outside in the playground area. It wasn’t going to happen. Why? Because it wasn’t in God’s plan. Sure, I spent some time pouting about it, but I eventually got over it and got back on board with the team. I think several of us went through this process over different issues. I wanted what I wanted, but it wasn’t what God wanted.
So, how does this relate to downtown? Well, I wanted Ronnie to change the service to a time that would be suitable to me. But that isn’t what God wants. Again, I was being selfish. Very selfish. Ronnie said, “this isn’t about you…it’s about the lost.” He’s right. I wrestled with God over this for awhile. I pouted. I had to let go of that selfishness. The fact of the matter is that 78% of Carroll County is sitting home on Sunday mornings-all for different reasons. God has given Ronnie a vision and that is to reach those folks in this mission area. We don’t have to understand all the ins and outs of the mission-we are called to TRUST and OBEY. We can speak the words easily enough- but putting them into action is harder. It has been for me. The words of Pastor Ty keep coming back to me…be flexible.
So, my family and I have chosen to be flexible. We have chosen to TRUST and OBEY what we feel like God is calling us to do. To be on mission in downtown Hillsville. We have no idea how any of it will work out but we know who does- GOD! Just like my trip to Slovakia was a groaning, growing, stretching process, this is too. I know, without a doubt, that while we were in Slovakia- all of you were praying for us. Those prayers were felt. Thank you! We couldn’t have done it without your prayers and love, just like we can’t do this without your prayers and love. We are all on the same team-God’s Team. Some are called to be in mission at Open Table, the food pantry, FCA, the youth center, Nicaragua, Sudan, Camp Dickensen, the pregnancy center and at the new worship center. We are all ONE TEAM striving for the same goal- to get to God. Many of you have been in our church as long as I have been alive. What a blessing you are to all of us! What you see in us has come down from you-from your teachings, your experience, your guidance, your prayers, your love. You are our patriarchs. We can’t do this without your prayers, love and guidance.
The hardest part of my trip to Slovakia was leaving my family. When we all got on the bus to go to the airport I sat in a seat by myself, turned my face to the window and just cried. The tears just flowed. I had never been away from them for any length of time and certainly not to a foreign country. It’s the same way with going downtown. I have cried over having to leave what is familiar and comfortable to me. Just like I knew I belonged in Slovakia- I know we belong downtown. Leaving home is never easy, but the great thing about this is that we won’t be that far away! I had to make sacrifices to go to Slovakia and we have to make sacrifices to go downtown. It’s all worth it to see one soul brought into the kingdom of God. What I am being asked to sacrifice is nothing compared to what Jesus sacrificed-his very life. His Father watched him be born, live, be tortured, crucified and die. In order for all those things to happen- his Father had to let Him go. The victory is in the resurrection-today the Son sits next to Father on the throne. What a glorious sight that must be! I want us to take as many people as we can with us to sit with them, in heaven. Don’t you?
In the weeks before my trip, you were gracious and generous in giving me love, encouragement, hugs, prayers, cards and financial donations. YOU sent ME for YOU! I vividly recall one person saying to me, ” Donna, I can’t go-but you can. This isn’t much, but please take it and know that we are with you in prayer and this is a way that you can take us with you.” Wow. That blessed my heart and I was blown away to think that this person was entrusting me to do the job that God called me to do in Slovakia-even though we didn’t know what that job was!
Going downtown is exactly like this. You are entrusting us to do the job that God has called each of us to do. We are leaving with your encouragement, love and prayers. Not going far, but going where God is calling us. In everything we do downtown- you are already in it because of your prayers, your teachings, your life, your love for God. God is building his team by sending us out-he wants us to gather in those who are in need of a Savior. He doesn’t want anyone to perish, nor do we.
So, my prayer is that when you look at this drawing you will see yourself somewhere in it. The more we walk forward, the closer we get to God. The more we lay our burdens down, the lighter we become and when we are lighter-we can move with better agility and purpose. Will you pray for us as God sends us out of our comfort zone? We are all in this together and I love you all very much. They will know we are Christians by our love…let’s spread it on thick like apple butter on a hot biscuit! Mmmmmm goood!
Blessings for your journey,