Originally published Tuesday, 26 January 2016.
I heard a quote the other day that really hit me strongly.
“The more heaven comes to earth, the more earth will look like family.” -Jonathan Helser
Oh, how I long to experience heaven in that way again, I thought!
Within that statement, I began to envision the Father’s heart behind His original design of creation, and then seeing His ultimate plan when Jesus came to reconcile man back to God through the Cross.
But I have to admit, any time I heard someone praying “on earth as it is on heaven” or heard songs proclaiming “let heaven come,” my mind immediately associated those words with miracles, signs, wonders, and encountering God’s tangible Presence like never before.
I have experienced those types of encounters both privately and corporately and, yes, they are quite heavenly to be sure!
But there was a point in time where even in a crowded room, among other believers, I still felt like something was missing.
Although I have experienced “family” with a body of believers before, it seemed to have disappeared; I believe the void in my life began forming a couple years ago.
I no longer felt the sense of being a part of the family of God.
I mean, of course, I KNOW I am a daughter in the Kingdom of God, and I know I am a member of the Body of Christ, but the family element of my weekly church gathering had seemed to vanish.
As I saw close friends of mine, one by one, leave our church home, my heart began to grow colder, but instead of dealing with the pain it caused to lose touch with them, I embraced my ministry assignments and kept moving forward in my calling.
But sadly, my personal time with the Lord began to suffer, and I began to view my involvement in ministry leadership as just another job. Because of my driven and goal-oriented personality, I didn’t question this jaded point of view.
Just keep moving ahead with the vision. Don’t look back for those who no longer want to support the vision.
Just keep attending those leadership/planning meetings.
Just keep going to those worship team rehearsals….even on those nights when they are 3 hours long…
Just keep preparing those messages for the youth meetings.
Just keep attending those prayer meetings.
Just get to church early to unlock the building, run through sound-check, wrestle the baby through the service, pray for this visitor, invite that girl to the next youth group outing, stay late for a meeting with Pastor, do the process all over again if there was an evening service/midweek service and then do it all over again next week and the week after that and the week after that…
Just typing through all of that makes me exhausted!
As I have shared in previous posts, by the direction of the Holy Spirit, Paul and I decided to step off of the hamster wheel of ministry at our church home and trusted the Lord would lead us where we belonged…hoping we would find our tribe, our community, our FAMILY.
A few weeks after we stopped running on the “hamster wheel,” we found ourselves in a safe place at a Baptist church, with sound teaching and surrounded by believers who truly love the Lord, but we both knew that our stay would most likely be temporary until we found our new “home.” We enjoyed four months there: Bible studies, Sunday school classes, Christmas concerts, choir rehearsals, and made some new friends. We are truly thankful for everyone who poured into us while we healed from our ministry wounds.
And then yesterday happened.
I’m still giddy from excitement and in awe of how quickly God can make things right in an instant of trusting Him to make all things new.
A few weeks ago, we kept running into an old friend of ours who also felt the pain of finding family, but recently found her tribe. Yesterday, we decided to take her recommendation, and got the whole family ready for church.
I was filled with such hope and anticipation, and within just a few hours, discovered my prayers of belonging had suddenly came to pass.
Just like I knew Paul was my husband after our first date, I knew this new church was our home after the first service!
Of course, everyone who greeted us as we walked in the door was so warm and inviting and we were both super impressed by the check-in process for their children’s ministry, making it as easy on the parents as possible…so helpful! And who could complain about a church in St. Louis that offers Kaldi’s coffee on tap! *Praise break*
Paul knew I was all in when the worship began. The song choices and the music style are, seriously, the sound of my heart, and since God has created me as a worshipper and songbird, it was hook, line, and sinker for me!
The message was the second one in a series called Renewal, which is totally a word the Lord has been speaking to me about my current season.
Stop mourning past seasons. I want to do something new in your life…trust Me.
I received confirmation on some passages I had been studying during the week, which is always something you are grateful for when coming together corporately to worship and study God’s word!
Then as we were leaving, we were able to connect with a young couple. We found out they only lived a few miles from us, so we exchanged numbers and I spent the next couple hours after we got home connecting with my new friend!
We are both stay-at-home moms too! Another answer to my prayer- finding someone who was in the same stage of life as us!
So within just a few hours, God turned ashes into beauty and is bringing “family” back into our lives again! We are so looking forward to our community group tomorrow night and then I have a girl date with my new friend on Friday- a night of worship with the women of the church!
Lord, You are speaking my love language!
I’m just so thankful and praising God for His faithfulness!
If you are battling discouragement or disappointment in your life right now, especially regarding relationships, I just encourage you to hang on, keep trusting the Lord! He is a friend who sticks closer than a brother and is faithful to the end! Soon and very soon you will find yourself surrounded by those who will love you for who you are and not what you can do for them. They will speak your language and make you feel right at home…
…just like heaven on earth.
Check out more of my blogs on www.emilyrosemassey.com! Also, visit my website for more information on how to stay connected with me, as well as info about my book Yielded in His Hands- now available on Amazon.com!