(At the risk of sounding like a teeny-bopper) It’s the Start of Something New
God’s faithfulness never ceases to amaze me. I struggle sometimes with trying to understand how God works and how much God works in our daily lives. It’s tricky to see where God has orchestrated a situation versus God allowing something to happen. I think the key is found in the Old Testament, where God time and again hardened hearts and gave people over to their sinful tendencies and then used the results to further His kingdom. I don’t think God causes or makes people sin. We do that enough on our own. But sometimes He throws up His hands and chooses not to intervene because He knows what He’s going to do in the aftermath.
I think that’s what has happened for me. So many times I begged and pleaded with God to intervene and bring restoration, but God had a different plan. He hardened hearts and made it abundantly crystal clear that there was a new task at hand for me. That task is at Valley Christian Church in Chino, CA.
A bit of backstory: I have been blessed in my life to have been raised amongst a group of weirdos. These weirdos are friends of my mom and dad from their college days, plus a few friends of friends and some friends from the church I grew up in. All in all, when all the kids, kids’ spouses, and now grandkids get together (which we have yet to do, I think), our numbers reach into the low 50s. And there are a few families in particular that we are very close to. One of those families is the Galbreaths. When our lives imploded in May, Russ sent the sweetest email to my mom and dad. And there was a little note at the end that said that their church might be in the market for a worship leader, and I should get in touch with Mike, the senior pastor. So I did. Less than a week later, Mike and I were chatting in his office. From there, I met with their Worship Pastor, and finally, the Elders. And a little note about the Elders. I have yet to meet a more caring and dialed-in group of men. They showed more care and concern for me as a person and a pastor in the hour I spent with them than I had experienced in the last five years. What a solid group of good, godly men!
So to make a long story a little shorter, this past Sunday, the 2nd, was my first week as a worship leader at Valley. The plan is for me to phase in over the next 3 months as I get to know the congregation and vice versa. Already I am overwhelmed with the welcoming spirit and friendliness of everyone I’ve had the pleasure of meeting, particularly on the worship team. From my first visit to the church, I understood that this was a congregation that was excited about worshiping God. As a worship leader, I know that 3/4 of a worship leader’s job is motivating the congregation to engage in worship. This is a family that seems to deeply desire intimacy with God and the tranformation that sort of intimacy brings. I am blessed.
Gina (Valley’s Worship Pastor), Mike (the Senior Pastor), and the rest of the staff, elders and volunteers have been so gracious to me thoughout this whole process. I led one song yesterday in addition to singing with the team, and it was so great to be back in the saddle again. I had missed it so much. In the two months I wasn’t leading, I went through a sort of withdrawal. I had to relearn worship. In a way, that was a really good thing. I had become so used to leading and worshiping with 5 million things running through my head that actually focusing solely on my own personal worship was challenging. (On a side note, I am really grateful to the congregation at Southlands at the Gallery for being a congregation that passionately worships. In the weeks I attended there, I was able to let go of my anger and resentment, rediscover my connection with my savior, and regroup on a personal level. Thank you for being an authentic congregation, Southlands. I pray God’s incredible blessings on you and the work you’re doing.) It was really great to have a different worship experience all those weeks I was “homeless.” It’s always good when worship leaders get the chance to step off the stage and get a fresh perspective. I needed that, I think.
One thing I hadn’t anticipated was realizing how much stamina I had built up in 5 years of ministry and how quickly I had lost that stamina when I wasn’t doing it every week. Even though I had been used to doing multiple services, I was absolutely wiped by the time I got home on Sunday! I actually took a nap, and I NEVER take naps. Not only did I take an hour nap, but I probably could have slept in another 2 hours on Monday and been just fine.
All in all, I’m seriously stoked about what comes next. There will be little hiccups in the process, I’m sure. But I am confident that this is where I’m supposed to be. God has something for me to do here. I don’t know exactly what that is, but the best part is that I get to figure it out. Knowing that I am exactly where God wants me to be in this moment is a great feeling. And while my ministry was just one part of my life that imploded in the past few months, I at least have the assurance that in His time and in His perfect wisdom, God will see me through the rest of it.
He is faithful, even when we don’t see. How could a good God allow bad things to happen? Because He doesn’t just see the immediate; He sees the entirety of our lives and the lives of the world around us. Sometimes bad thing happen. And it sucks. That doesn’t mean that God ceases to be good. It does, however, give us the opportunity to deepen and strengthen our relationship with Him. Bad things will happen in your life. Will you choose to become bitter, or will you choose to allow God to make His power perfect in your weakness?
Here’s to new beginnings, new adventures, and all that lies ahead. May His hand go before us and make a way for us all.