Monday, October 14

What's Next

The day we said it out loud it was a sunny Thursday mid-afternoon, just days before summer ended, weeks since our ministry had come to its confusing stop.  The house was quiet when the phone call came for him.  Regardless of who was really on the other end, all he could hear was the Almighty saying in the subtext, "Do this.  Just say you'll do it."  It was a kairos moment we'll never forget.

When he hung up the phone he took a deep breath and looked at me.  "What if we just say we're going to do this?  What if, from this point on, we make all of our decisions through this filter?  This is now who we are and what we do?"

"I was just waiting on you," I said.

We said the words out loud, sat in the silence of the turning page, blinked long blinks, took deep "yes" breaths, clasped hands and took the afternoon walk to our son's school to pick him up.  Breathless, we shared the sidewalk while we repeated, "O.K.  ok."  As if by agreeing over and over again we could move more deeply into this commitment, quick-dry cementing our feet into a new path.

We were planting a church. 

We are.

The neighborhood looked different.  The houses were now the homes of potential friends, of partners in-waiting, of missional community, intentional service.  The air was thinner, fresher.  I couldn't for the life of me think what had made me cry for weeks on end when suddenly hope was wrapped around me, moving me from the old to the new.

Our first phone call on that walk was to a friend, "We have an idea about what's next. We want to talk to you."  And the very next day we met and shared and invited and he said, "yes."

And the Father has paid close attention to us.  Each week, in quiet moments or over coffees or stuffed in envelopes full of cash and gift cards in the mail, we sense his presence and his deep "with-ness."  We're sitting back and watching him work.  We're amazed and humbled and ever so grateful.

This is right.  This is real.

We are church planters.

It's not where I ever thought I'd be. It's not what I thought I came here to do.  But leaning harder and harder into this new thing I can see how it came to be.

How that first church plant -- that one that we snuck away from our city for a day to attend their leadership meetings in secret -- was the training ground, the season for learning.  We know how to shut down an old work and begin it anew with joy and promise.  We know the steps and the way to invite and pray and plan.  It made our hearts beat fast and broadened our scope of what the kingdom looked like.

And then there was that second one, the one we didn't plant, but found while it was months young.  We were in our own season of groping and wandering but we committed ourselves to those new-creation people for the duration, no matter what, to experience what true living in community looked and tasted like.  But we know how to grow into an unconventional space and let worship happen even there.  We know how to let go of our second-level beliefs to make room for more at the table. Those friends got under our skin, held up our arms, and let us change right before their eyes.  Maybe we were the neediest people there, or maybe we were the lives punched full of holes through which the light could shine in all directions.

And then we came here to a people we found ourselves loving with intensity -- even now still.  In the past four and a half years I've seen him become a wonderful shepherd, jotting notes to himself to follow-up, sitting together over countless coffees, bringing the drunk fiance in to sober up on the couch and locking away the gun, writing the letters to the courts, inviting the next person and the next person to dinner in our home, to homegroups, to advent prayers.  He loves these people.

And I remember how I didn't even hesitate to dress to appear in court with the friend who was sentenced to jail time, led away in handcuffs.  And how I tenderly cooked the meal for the couple who lost their baby at birth and took it to their white, trembling, empty hands.  The Bible study I began with fear that grew me into a teacher.  All the "yeses" to the "Can I stop by?" questions.  I chose this home to host groups and guests, for its proximity, for its commonness, for its extra bedroom.  I've never seen this life as mine.  It always, always belonged to others.

We've moved through our seasons of learning to plant, of living in a community that was planted, and now of loving the people we're supposed to plant with.   This is no surprise to God; it's what he's been in the course of doing for a very long time.

One step at a time, we begin a new life of obedience with a new community of friends doing a new thing in Denver.

He was just waiting on us.