FRIENDS! A more personal blog today 🙂
Today marks the official 4 year anniversary of the church I serve at. Yesterday, my pastor gave me a call on his very precious day off and it reminded me of why I serve at my place of worship and I thought I would share…
Things That Matter
After growing up in church, in my early 20s, I decided to leave the institution for about 4 years. There was a period when I was at some ministry function 4/7 days of the week. But during those 4 years, every hour of every day belonged to me! It was magical. I could do whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted (not really because no money and no car but, you get it). I left 3 churches because at some point, I believed that the things I found fundamental to the Christian faith simply didn’t matter to the leadership there. They didn’t care about justice or honesty or accountability; if they did, they rarely expressed those ideals in a healthy manner. So I decided that if no one cared about the things that mattered, neither would I. What did people my age whose lives didn’t revolve around church do? They went out! And had fun! And partied! And drank! So I did too 🙂 It felt fantastic! For a while. However, at some point, I began to miss caring about things that matter. Sometimes, the only way back is to keep moving forward. Was that deep? It sounded deep in my head but now that I’m reading it, it sounds stupid…
Yellow Brick Road
Look my point is this: I couldn’t see it when I was in it, but I was lost. That’s always how it is, isn’t it? You never really believe you’re lost because you’re still on the right street. It doesn’t look totally familiar but, you know you’re in the right neighbourhood and know what’s up. Then, you just go one block too far, one wrong turn and you end up on the highway. Usually, you get to one of those loops that just sets you right back on track, but sometimes, you take an exit and end up further than you ever imagined. Lucky for me, I somehow ended up on a yellow brick road – finding companions and ultimately, my way home. Here’s the difference between a regular road and the yellow brick road: the regular road is lonesome and isolating and if you continue down it – you might not ever find your way out. The yellow brick road is unknown to you, but has a destination. It’s full of people waiting to walk it with you (if you’ll have them) and help you find wherever you’re meant to be. I met one of my best friends on that road. I don’t know where I would have ended up if she wasn’t by my side during those years. I had mentors who pursued me and tried to get me back on track, on that road. I exchanged a few e-mails and a phone call from a complete stranger who, 5 years later, ended up being my pastor and lifeline.
Yesterday I had a call with him, and like the ninja he is, he lowkey ripped apart an idea I had while simultaneously encouraging me to continue working on it. Clever fox… At one point he said “Jo, I’ve known you for years and I can tell you exactly what you’re passionate about in one sentence: you’re passionate about seeing people set free, because you’ve experienced what it’s like to be freed”
A puppet is free as long as it loves its strings. Sam Harris said that. Let me tell you, those few years out of church, I LOVED my strings. One string was escapism. Another was living in the moment. Another was disposable income. Another was recklessness. Another was independence. It’s only once I cut those strings off that I realized what freedom felt like. At first, it felt like free fall and then, it felt like a new reality. TRUE freedom was not needing an escape from life. It was being fully present. It was being wise and generous with money. It was knowing that independence is a scary gift to be used sensibly. So what is one way I am using said independence? Serving!
Why I Serve at Church
You took the scenic route, but you made it all the way here! Proud of you. I serve because my life is a product of other people serving. Someone I had never met had a servant’s heart that led him and his family to uproot their lives and plant a church in Quebec. A family with a servant’s heart took it upon themselves to open up their home to a small group that ultimately led to building the foundations of the church. A group of people I may never meet serve on a prayer team that intercedes on my behalf and yours. Another group of people give money faithfully so that you and I have a safe place to sit on Sundays and work out our faith. A few good men with hearts of gold come in to keep the place clean so that you and I can be comfortable. A group of artists serve by playing music and allowing you and I time to respond to what our hearts are whispering to us. Someone takes care of media to make sure that as many people as possible (myself included) can have access to key messages. Someone takes care of audio so that you and I can listen to what God is saying to us through music or anything else. There are so many groups of someones – most of whom I do not know personally – that have laid the groundwork for you and I. While I was lost – other people were serving. They were getting things ready just for me without even knowing my name…
Happy 4 Years to my home, The 180 Church! Thank you for being my compass, for waiting for me at the end of the yellow brick road, for helping me cut off my strings and providing me with a soft place to land after my free fall. I hope I can pay it forward.
Love Jesus. Love like Jesus ❤