Several years ago, my husband was on fire for the Lord. He had a fire burning within him that I had never seen before. He was always doing something with the church. Always at revivals. Always at meetings. I’ll admit, I was jealous. I wanted in on it. But, I was always stuck at home with 5 or 6 kids, needing so desperately to be fed, but not getting anything.
The next year, my husband started feeling like the Lord was calling him (us!) to the mission field. He approached a trusted man of God about it, and was told that God generally calls men to preach before he calls them as missionaries. My husband felt discouraged and figured, “Well, God must not be calling me to be a missionary.” I wanted to help. I wanted to be there for him. So, I went on a mission. I decided it was time for me to get my life on track. If God was calling my husband to be a missionary, I didn’t want to miss that call. I wanted to love him and support him right through it. I started focusing on my own relationship with Christ. I studied my Bible daily – for hours. I prayed every chance I got. I wanted to get as close as I possibly could so that I could be there for my husband as a missionary’s wife – or in whatever capacity Christ wanted.
But nothing ever came of it. We missed our chance to go off and serve the Lord because we didn’t know how. We didn’t know what steps we were required to take next. We knew what we were supposed to do, but we had no idea how to do it.
We both felt the Lord telling us to leave our church. Not because we were angry at the church, but because it wasn’t where He wanted us to be. We both knew it. We had even discussed it at length.
But, we told God no. We didn’t want to leave our church. We had been at that church since the Sunday after we moved down to Georgia. All of our friends were there. Our family was there. It was all that we knew. We made every excuse in the book to stay. “It will hurt so-and-so’s feelings if we leave.” “Our kids are doing so well in church, and they love going. We don’t want to risk them hating a new church.” “How will we ever find a church that can replace what we’ve found here?”
It was all true. We really did love our church. In the 8 years we were there, I got saved and baptized, and 4 of our children were saved and baptized as well. I would watch as Christ would move in the hearts of my children. Many tears were shed on the altar as we would all bring our burdens to the Lord and leave them there.
But, one thing was happening during this time that I couldn’t fix, no matter how many tears I cried, or how many times I went to the altar. For 3 years, I watched my husband slowly pull himself farther and farther away from God and our church. And the entire time, I knew it was because we weren’t where God wanted us to be. Yet, I stayed. I continued to tell God no.
My husband became discouraged. He has a job that requires him to work on Sunday mornings, so he is rarely at church during the morning worship service. Before, he would always make sure to get off on Sunday evenings and Wednesday nights to still be at church. But, more and more, through the years, he would stop doing that. Instead, he would find just “one more thing” that would keep him busy enough that he would be too late for church.
It tore my heart to pieces. All I wanted was to be in church with my husband sitting beside me, but church was the last place he wanted to be.
So, I approached him about it. The first few times I asked, he gave me excuses: things were really busy at work, he had too much to do, etc., etc.
But, recently, I approached him in a different way. I asked him what he needed to get back to the Lord. I was already praying, but I knew he needed more from me. I wanted to make sure I gave it to him. We talked, we cried, and we both realized we already had the answer: God was calling us to move on. To trust HIM to lead us to a new church, one that He had picked out just for us. All those months, Gene didn’t want to say anything to me, because He had seen how close I had drawn to the Lord, and He was afraid by asking me to leave the church, he would ruin that. If only he had known I was already feeling the same way. Why hadn’t we talked sooner?
The next night, we sat the kids down, and told them that we felt like the Lord was leading us to find a new church. Some of the kids were totally on board with it, but one of the kids was completely against it. He started crying and begged us to change our minds. He didn’t want to leave his friends. He told us he would hate any new church he tried, just so we would change our minds and go back to “our” church.
That next Sunday night, we tried a new church. We spoke with the pastor and found out just how missions-minded their church was. In a church with 95 members, their Faith Promise giving was $46,000 for the year. Did you catch that? On top of regular tithes and offerings, this church had promised $46,000 to missionaries. Amazing.
The first service went really well. It was different than what we had become used to for the past 8 years, but not different in a bad way. Just different. Plus, the people were kind and welcoming, and there were lots and lots of kids.
We went back that Wednesday night, and the kids all went off to their own classes. After the service that night, Jace, (the one who had been so against us even trying a new church), came up to Gene and I and said, “I’m so sorry I didn’t trust you or God. I really like it here. If this is where God wants us to be, I’m OK with it.”
Isn’t it nice to know that even the hardest hearts can be changed?
Before Gene and I committed to anything, we wanted to come to a few more services. I needed to try a Sunday morning without my husband there and make sure I could handle it.
The pastor and his wife came even came over one day to hear our testimonies and tell us more about what they believe as a church.
After every service, and almost every night since we had started attending the new church, Gene and I would talk, and it wasn’t long before we both felt that was exactly where God was leading us.
This past Sunday night, Gene and I, along with 7 of our kids, joined Shining Light Baptist Church.
(Pictured left to right: Angie, Carly, Gage, Zander, Gene, Sawyer, Jace, Lucy, Parker, and Pastor Tim Mason.)
Yes, we have 8 kids. And, yes, only 7 of them are pictured with us here. Our oldest daughter is 18. Gene and I both feel she is old enough to make her own decisions in the Lord. We had to do something VERY hard, and let her decide where she would go to church. If the Lord is not moving her on, we don’t want to force her. We are praying every day that she will seek only HIS will, and that she will do whatever is right for her in HIS eyes.
I am praying that the Lord will really use us in this new church. We are excited about serving in whatever way possible. I’m praying the Lord will send Gene a man who will truly encourage him in the things of the Lord, who will become his friend and uplift him in prayer. I want nothing more than to see my husband have that fire burning within him again. I know he wants it to, and I’m praying with everything I have that he finds it here, not because of the people, but because of the Spirit. I’m also praying the Lord will send me ladies that I can draw close to, that I can minister to and to learn from. I’m praying that my kids will find Jesus here. That the ones who are saved will cultivate a real relationship with Him, and that the ones who are not saved will discover the love of our Savior and invite Him into their hearts. God can do mighty things, and I’m trusting Him to do just that.
Sometimes, the Lord calls us to do hard things. Sometimes, we tell him no, and we suffer because of it. Yes, our kind and loving Father still blesses us from time to time. But just imagine the blessings He will give us when we are willing to follow Him, no matter how hard it may be.
Step out on faith. Trust Him to guide your steps. He has your best interest at heart. You just have to let Him lead. And stop telling Him no.