Saturday, June 21, 2014

Life is Unpredictable; Loving God is Constant

This has been a crazy year. Last May, I graduated from Northwestern College (now University of Northwestern--St. Paul) with my degree in Elementary Education and an endorsement in Middle School Math. After a busy summer, I went straight into the "big girl world" with a job as a substitute teacher. I worked for an agency, so I didn't teach in just one district, I worked in charter schools and private schools all over the twin cities area. Everyday, I called in to find out the who, what, where, why, when, and how of my day, and every day was different. This was difficult for many reasons, but one particular reason was that I love predictability. Wonderful predictability, which was nearly nonexistent for the last 10 months. While my default was to complain about this loss of normalcy in my life, through the help of several people and experiences I began to look for how God was using this weird time in my life to prepare me for something new.

Throughout these months, I was also reflecting on the fact that my parents were going to move to Florida to plant a new church in a suburb called Oviedo, which is located northeast of Orlando. To be honest, I didn't want to leave Minnesota. I've spent the last 7 years since our move from Virginia building my home here. I've got friends, I'm part of many activities I enjoy, and unlike some, I love Minnesota weather! But I did want to be a part of what my parents were going to be doing in Florida, too. So, I was waiting for some big “a-ha” that I should stay or go, for the lightning bolt and thunder that boomed either FLORIDA! or MINNESOTA! I waited and waited, but the booming, flashing message never came. Instead, over the past year, God has slowly prepared me and grown my excitement to be a part of the adventure of the new church we are planting--Palmwood Church.

Not knowing whether or not I was wasting my time, I started going to the weekly meetings my parents were having with others interested in the church. I was also part of something called the School of Discipleship through my current home church, Woodbury Community Church, in which we met every two weeks at 5:30am to discuss how to live out this life God has called us to and to discuss a book we had read. I also started meeting with my mentor, Melissa. Over and over, through the School of Discipleship, the Palmwood meetings, and my conversations with Melissa, three themes kept coming up: love God, love people, make disciples.

The theme wasn't always expressed with those words, but every book we read, every discussion we had, the goals we had for this new church, the way I was starting to live my life--it all centered on loving my God, loving the people he's placed in my path, and helping them love Jesus and spread the news that he loves us all so much he died for us so that we can spend eternity with him instead of separated from him. I began applying these ideas in my life, and I found that living the way Jesus has asked us to is actually kind of addicting! Throughout this year, loving God, loving people, and making disciples became and is still becoming not just an ideal or belief for me, but a way of life. I want to love God with all of me, to love the people he puts in my life, and to introduce others to Jesus so that they will want to love God, love others, and make disciples too.

So why did I have to suffer through substitute teaching for a school year? I don't fully know quite yet. But I do know that, like no other experience, subbing this year has forced me to learn to rely on God not only day by day, but minute by minute. I can say with James that I have no idea what tomorrow will bring: "Now listen, you how say, 'today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.' Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, 'If it is the Lord's will, we will live and do this or that.'" (James 4:13-15) Jesus needed to teach me this to prepare me to go with Him daily as I go to Florida, and as I go about the rest of my life. He is the one who directs my days, and my purpose in life is consistent no matter what my days may bring: to rely on Him daily as I love God, love people, and make disciples. That’s what Palmwood Church is already about, and it makes me very excited to be part of it for as long as God has me there.

I do love predictability. I wish I had the minute by minute schedule for each and every day. but that would make daily life with Jesus much less… well, much less unpredictable. And if I'm honest, that would take away some of the fun :)