Our family recently relocated from a four year stay in the cornfields of Kansas back to our home territory of Amarillo, Texas. Moving, for me, proved to be extremely difficult. I left my beautiful dream home, dear friends who had become family, an exhausting but fulfilling job in foster care, and not to mention our home church where we had been lay pastors for three years.
Becoming pastors was never something that my husband or I had imagined for our lives. But, when the call came, we knew it was from the Lord. We jumped in with both feet and hit the ground running. To say we loved being in ministry is an understatement. We had never known such fulfillment, such purpose, such joy. And on the flip side of that coin, we had never known such pain, such sorrow, such burden.
The day we walked away, we knew we had run across the finish line absolutely sweating, having given everything to obey the short-term call God had commissioned us with. But when we crossed the finish line, it was with a limp. There were wounds inflicted (by the same call that had brought us joy) which caused us to wince every time we walked through the church doors. Wounds that were merely the result of life lived with people. We were tired, and we were hurting.
The Church at large is just… messy. Ministry is messy. Life lived from the heart is messy.
We loaded up the moving trucks and came home to Texas. We were looking forward to sitting on the back row of a church service, where no one knew us or needed anything from us, where we could just take a minute to breathe and recalculate, to receive instead of give, follow instead of lead.
We soon found ourselves weeping on the rows of Freedom Fellowship. The glory of the Lord washed over us every week. Surrounded by believers from every age group, all collectively worshipping the Lord in unison, we began to revive. We began to hear the voice of the Holy Spirit again. We woke up on Sundays and were excited to go to church. We signed up for small groups, our kids begged to go to kid’s church, and my daughter began telling me about visions she was having during worship. How much better could it get?
After such a difficult previous season, it was easy to find myself thinking that Freedom Fellowship had the secret sauce. They must have found the lost Ark of the Covenant and stashed it in the basement because the glory was thickkkk. The pastors must be the most holy people in ministry, the congregation must be extremely mature and Spirit-filled for the environment to be this wholesome.
I was reveling in the thought that we had found the hidden gem of revival when the Holy Spirit spoke to me very clearly one early morning as I was just beginning to wake up. You know the place… that early morning moment when your head is groggy and silent but your spirit is stirred and speaking. With my head out of the way, my heart began to listen to the voice of my Father.
“I want My glory to rest in every church, on every row, in every heart. I offer Myself to every person who comes to Me. It is My joy to come into the room. As a matter of fact, whether you feel Me or not, I’m there because I promised that where two or more are gathered in My name, there I am in their midst. The reason why you’re experiencing My presence and My voice more at this new home that at the last is not because your new church is special. Your experience with me is different because you’re not offended at anyone here.”
As I began intently listening, I laid my heart bare before the One who made me, who knows me, and who loves me. He began putting salve on my fresh wounds, while at the same time pointing out the scar tissue that had developed over the older ones. The results of this conversation with the Holy Spirit had radically changed the way I view church, and I don’t think I’ll ever be the same again.
To be continued…
INSIGHT INTO THE LIFE OF THE AUTHOR: Sheyanne Brown is a work-at-home mom of three tiny people, wife to a very attractive cowboy, and a small business owner of Sparrow Budgets. She has a Bachelor’s degree from Oral Roberts University, shamelessly eats peanut butter by the spoonful, absolutely loves to mow the yard, and is passionate about marriage, family life, healthy relationships, and Jesus.