Sunday, April 26, 2015

It's God's show.

This week brought some huge milestones and steps forward for the planning and building of the CROSSroads Restoration Home. We (minus my husband, whose health doesn't allow him to partake) met with the mayor of the city (who fully supports what we are trying to do and gave us some great contact people) and the recovery community, law enforcement, and Faith communities had a large community heroin education night at a local church.  The official savings account for the non-profit restoration home was opened, and we also had our first steering committee/board meeting comprised of leaders in the community, recovery circles, and churches who share our desire to see the area free from addiction, and we began the process of applying for our 501c non-profit status. There are also many exciting things going on with other members of the community through the Recovery Task Force, The Recovery Ranch, and other recovery resources in the community.  I am in awe of how good God is, and how he is bringing everything together. For so long addiction was such a dirty word- something that  no one talked about, but swept under the rug and denied. That's not the case anymore in Marshfield. The addiction recovery community is speaking out and demanding that this issue- and the people it affects- gets the attention that it deserves.

Seeing so many people band together in unity for a shared cause and common goal is inspiring. It is not something that you always see in ministry.  All too many times in ministry and recovery, there is competition, comparison, and separation. People can get so focused on positions, titles, and "their people". "their group", and "their money",  that instead of the body of Christ actually working and functioning as a whole body, you end up with a bunch of severed individual body parts all trying to do their own thing. The body of Christ only works if everyone works in unison without competition. If everyone wants to be a foot and no one ways to be an eye, the body will be worthless and non-functional. Imagine having a body with 40 feet, yet can't see where it's walking! Talk about going nowhere fast! It's the same thing when everyone wants to be, say, the lead pastor. If everyone is a lead pastor, there will be no congregation to preach to! God has a different purpose for everyone's life. Everyone is not meant to be a lead pastor, or a missionary, or a worship leader, or a Sunday school teacher, or a front line minister.  We need to recognize the giftings that God has bestowed on us and use them to their full potential, not try to be someone else. Because if we knew the hardship and the problems that came with someone else's gifting, we would see very quickly that we are not equipped for it. The eyes of a body are good at their job because they are made to see. Feet are made to walk. Lungs are made to breathe. God knows what he is doing, and he has different people in different areas of ministry for a reason. If we try to force ourselves into a position that we are not equipped for- like a foot trying to be an eye- it will be a disaster.

1 Corinthians 12: 21- 26: The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” 22 On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are and indispensable, 23 and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor.,, But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, 25 so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. 26 If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.

 As someone who has been in ministry leadership for a long time, I can't tell you how important having people there to support me is. My entire ministry career, God has always supplied me with an armor bearer. Someone who was there to help me with the weight of ministry, so I wasn't crushed under the pressure of it. A confidant. Someone who had my back, and someone who knew me well enough to know what kind of decisions I would make in a given situation- so that they were able to make the same decision if I was off doing something else. Basically, I had a duplicate of myself- because there was no way that I could carry the burden alone. These women who have been my armor bearers have kept me going when I thought I couldn't, encouraged me on when I wanted to quit, and reminded me that God would  never call me to do something that I wasn't equipped for. They have each been huge blessings to my life and some of the closest friends I have ever had. These women embraced their role in being my "right hand man." There was no jealousy, no wondering why they couldn't be in charge, no underlying ulterior motive where they were hoping to overthrow me and take my "position." (For some reason, in every ministry I have been in- people want the "position" of being the leader and the boss and it can cause division. I personally have never understood this, because anyone who has been a leader will tell you that it is not easy or something we would have ever volunteered to do!) It was just true, genuine, love, and the desire to walk out what God had called them to in life. If they hadn't obeyed God, I am not sure I would have made it, and my ministry definitely wouldn't have made it. If they had all decided that they weren't going to be a foot- because they felt they were above being a foot- the entire thing would have crumbled. If they would have decided to leave and do their "own thing", they would have missed what God had placed right in front of them, and the souls that were changed through their obedience could have would up with a very different ending. They realized that the call on their life was just as- if not more so- important as mine, and they allowed God to work through them instead of making their own plans on what their role should have been.

That is how the body of Christ is supposed to work. The thing is, the illusion that any of this is "ours" is just that- an illusion. There is absolutely no need for competition or wanting to do your own thing when you understand that ALL OF THIS IS GOD'S, and we are called to be stewards over it. Your ministry, your spouse, your family, your money, your business, your home, your children- it's all God's. He entrusted you with it. I was asked this week if I would be ok with not being on the executive board for CROSSroad's Restoration Home if Ben was on it, so that we wouldn't dominate the board as a spouse team. Without a doubt, I said there would be no problem. CROSSroads was never meant to be mine and Ben's "thing." It has always been God's "thing", and we were just obedient in doing the work he told us to do. When CROSSroads was started, the intention was for it to be a community ministry. We had meetings out on the street instead of in a church with the sole intention of being an outreach ministry, where the souls coming in were what mattered.  We never wanted it to be our church's "group" -  it was never meant to be a Faith Fellowship "thing." It is for the addicts- the hardcore addicts- the lost and hurting, the ones who feel so far gone that they don't even feel comfortable walking into a church. THAT is what it is about. They are GOD'S people. It is their group. We just have the awesome privilege of playing a tiny part in God's story and  get to watch these amazing people's lives change and  transform into what  God has always called them to be. We are not foolish enough to believe that any of the miraculous things that have taken place in this ministry are due to us. We are just trying to walk obediently and sacrificially to let God use us to HIS full extent.
Pastor Cano from Milwaukee used to always tell me that it was "God's show," and that we are just in it. We don't run anything, none of us do. None of what happens in life is about us. God is directing the show, and it's up to us if we heed his direction or not.  There is a much bigger picture. When we can come together as a body in unison, the picture is so much easier to see. Working towards a common goal opens up possibilities in the spiritual realm. When you have people that want to take their piece in the show and run off into solitude with it- the picture starts to skew. We must never fall into the trap that this is about us, or that we are in competition with one another. The lie that we need to do our own thing- our own ministry, our own mission, our own lifepath- when God has called us to be part of a bigger story. We need each other- each part of the body- for God's purposes to prevail. We all play a part, and none of us can play the show alone. It is just so beautiful when we all start to  work together, and we can start to see the picture crystal clearly. The director  knows what he's doing. God wants an army, not a bunch of solo acts.