Friday, May 20, 2016

Surprised by God

If you were here with me, you could sit and laugh with me.  God is doing something that is simply amazing and still makes me giggle.  I've been swamped and busy, so not able to sit back and work through the rest of the story.  I will one day.  I feel it is valuable for me to write out.  Maybe I will learn; maybe others will learn from it.

But now....

Our support was low, so we were asked to raise support.  Oh how we all love that job!!  So we were asked by a friend to come to his church and speak to his pastor.  We did.  The meeting went for hours, until 11:30 at night!!  He did not want to let us go.  But at the end of the day, the pastor had a strange request.  "We've been looking and praying for a women's pastor.  Would you be interested?"  I laughed!  I have never even led a ladies Bible study!  Teens once, yes.  Years of children's work, yes.  Women?  Never.  

Before we got home, we got a text.  Would I consider sharing my testimony with the women's group?  I thought I could do that...  The day I showed up, the pastor was there and introduced me as "the woman he is strongly recommending for women's pastor."  I was a little shocked, but ignored him.  The funny thing is that this is a church of immigrants, and a people group I have never worked with.  
The meeting went well, and the women were wonderful to be with.  Before I got home, my husband had a message from the pastor again saying that the women were very happy and came to him and wanted me to teach their study.  Mild panic.  Mild is a mild word.  It was more like gut wrenching fear.  My mentor was gone - something about celebrating his 40th wedding anniversary.... some people!  So I phoned another friend who used to be a youth pastor and who knew me.  He laughed, and then talked me through some of it.  My husband and I decided I would take the offered one month trial position.

So here I am, three weeks in to being an interim women's pastor in an immigrant church.  I am one of the few white people there.  And yet, I fit so much more in with these immigrants than I do with the typical American church.  I feel at home.

I've been teaching on what I have been taught for ten years.  Who God is.  God is not a task master judging how well we do our faith.  He is a quiet God who sings over us with delight, who is gentle with those with young.  I taught them about our God-image that we have developed over our lives and how distortions in our God image leave us with handicaps in our relationship with God.  Then I began teaching them about us in community.... that God is not enough; He designed us to be in community with others. Also how community is not enough; He puts within our hearts a remnant of dissatisfaction with even the most perfect of relationships because we were designed for relationship with Him, and we were created with eternity in our hearts.  Next week, I will be teaching on God's plan for reaching out and healing is to work with people.  How we need to function both as wounded and those helping the wounded.  Community again, and the knowledge that God is smiling and encouraging our faltering steps towards Him.

In this church, these women have not heard this - it is a good church, but they came out of a first generation immigrant church that is more legalistic.  Every week, they have been in tears....  They are being challenged to rest with God, to know they are loved.

And I go away each week feeling both a sense of bubbling joy and a sense of wanting to sit down and cry.  Joy because it is unbelievable - here I am, a year ago, kicked out of a mission, strongly censored by my church, horrifically slandered by a team leader.  Now teaching, sharing with women in a church.  I suspect I will get called to go on past this trial month.  I am enjoying these women.  Enjoying seeing God work.  And laughing that God has this sense of humor.

But as I teach, as I see them benefit from the lessons I learned over these years of pain, as I hear them talk about how God is talking to them, I myself heal.  God is quietly healing the wounds of being rejected in my heart.

In a week or two, I will hear if we are asked to join this church with me in a pastoral role.  I'll let you know.  I still giggle at the thought.  But I have a quiet sense of calm.  God is working here, and I stand amazed.