Wednesday, January 30, 2013

A Heart of Joyful Sacrifice (Link Up!)

I am really excited about the release of The Church Planting Wife: Help and Hope for Her Heart by fellow church planting wife Christine Hoover. I have had the opportunity to be a part of her launch team and have been blessed to not only read it but also share it. I will be writing a review soon, so be on the lookout for that!

Today, I'm linking up with Christine over at Grace Covers Me as she releases her book and collects heart stories from church planting and ministry wives. Join us?

How has God used church planting to create a heart of joyful sacrifice?

I can't pretend that I have some incredible widsom to offer when it comes to church planting and what I have learned through it. If anything, I have very little to offer at this point; mostly because I am still at the beginning of my journey as a church planting wife. But the Lord wastes nothing, and He has certainly taught me a lot, even in my short journey. And I know He will continue to teach me more as we seek to fulfill this calling to reach the city of McKinney for the gospel.

We chose to do things the difficult adventurous way. My sweet groom left his job at an existing church, we got married, left our church family and all of our friends, and moved to McKinney. All in the same month. There we were, newlyweds in a new city, on a mission to start something new, only knowing one other couple. Lots of change all at once for this lover of consistency/routine.  :)

In order for us to be able to move to McKinney and pursue church planting, I needed to keep my job. Mike had started working at Starbucks and at a church in town with raising support, but we still needed my income, as well as some semblence of normalcy admist all the change. My job, however, was located near downtown Dallas. If you are unfamiliar with the DFW area, McKinney to Dallas is about a 45 minute drive without traffic on one of the main thoroughfares that runs North and South. In order to get out ahead of the traffic, I was getting up at 4:45am to be out the door by 5:45am and in the office by 6:30am. My commute home was always longer, so I would get home, make dinner, go to bed, and start over the next day. I was thankful that my office allowed me to adjust my work hours, but it became increasingly more difficult to keep that schedule. Mike had started meeting people in the community, but I was doing all I could to make it through another day; we have often described it as feeling like I was just sleeping in McKinney. But because I knew my role was important to what we felt called to do, I made the necessary sacrifice.

But I will be honest and say that it was FAR from joyful. As a new wife in a new city, I was at a loss of knowing how to balance it all. I was lonely and missed my friends. My morning quiet times went out the window because I just couldn't get up any earlier. I literally cried my entire commute both to and from work for months. I began to question God; not even on what we felt called to do, but mostly on what was being required of me in order to be obedient to that call. If this was what things were going to look like, how on earth would I survive a life of this? And then the seeds of discontent and resentment started growing. Why did I have to make this huge sacrifice? Wasn't leaving behind my community of church and friends enough? Wasn't choosing a life of service in ministry over comfort and security enough?

I am sure no one would argue that it wasn't the most ideal situation; I wouldn't recommend it to anyone if it can be avoided, nor would I want to go back {you can read the story of God's abundant provision of relief here}. But the Lord definitely used it to mold and shape and conform my broken and weary heart. You see, I had forgotten and missed altogehter what sacrifice really meant.

sac - ri - fice [sak-ruh-fahys], verb, giving up of something valued: a giving up of something valuable or important for somebody or something else considered to be of more value or importance

I was certainly giving up things I valued: time, sleep, expectations, comforts, etc. But when I read the second part of that definition, it hit me like a ton of bricks. Giving up something valuable {yes, I got that part} for somebody or something considered to be more valuable {ouch}. This is where peaking into the depths of my heart got uncomfortable. I knew who the somebody {Jesus} or something {the gospel} was supposed to be. It was supposed to be why we moved to McKinney in the first place. By the looks of it, I valued Jesus and the gospel. I had, after all, made the big leap to move out here; I gave up some expectations and comforts and securities to say "yes" to this calling. But when things got hard, and more was required, the things that I wanted to be valuable started to outweigh the things that actually are valuable. The dark recesses of my heart were revealing where my values truly were. When I said I was willing to sacrifice, I only meant the easier things, or the things I wanted to sacrifice. How much and what was I really willing to sacrifice? Did I really value Jesus more than {fill in the blank}?

Another dark corner of my heart was how selfish my "sacrifice" really was. During those hard months when I was commuting, I slipped into making the sacrifice all about me. What I was giving up so we could be in McKinney. The dreams and comforts I had to put aside. How hard I was working. What I was doing for the Lord and for my husband and for our ministry...if I think about it, how can anything selfish be truly joyful?

Again, it wasn't the most ideal situation. I was giving up a lot and working really hard. But left unchecked, my heart can {and will} wander; I can lose sight of my calling as a church planter's wife, and more importantly, as a Christ-follower. While things are ten times better now that I am not commuting, those heart issues will inevitably resurface if I don't address them. Because there will be more sacrifices in the days ahead. They may look different in the future, but they may still be hard and will still be required of me.

So where does the joyful part come from? Well, I'm still learning that part :) But I can say that a recalibration of my heart is always a good place to start. Realigning my values and reminding myself of the joy I felt when I first said "yes" to God's calling on my life {both in following Him and in obeying Him} helps too. The joy in the sacrifice comes when I see my husband operate within His gifts, and I realize that I need to do whatever it takes to make sure he can continue to do that. It comes when I see God's grace and provision poured out in my life. It comes when I step out in faith and I see His faithfulness.

But more importantly, the joy in the sacrifice comes when I do truly see Jesus as most valued in my life. It comes when I know that following Him is worth the sacrifice {no matter what it is} and so much more. It comes when I get to see others meet Jesus and learn to value Him as most important in their lives, learn that following Him is worth the sacrifice. It comes when I remember the joyful sacrifice He made for me.


1 comment:

  1. Beautiful, Erin! Thank you for sharing what God is doing in your heart.