In 2002, my husband felt a sense from the Lord that He wanted us to plant a church in our hometown in Connecticut. This took a big risk. Because at the time, we were living in Alberta Canada, which was 40 hours away from Connecticut! We packed our things, put in our notice at our current church and made the three-day trek to CT. It wasn’t easy, but five years later, that dream became a reality. However, it was full of ups and downs. During that time, we learned 10 important things about who God is through our leap of faith:
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1. God’s Provision
This is perhaps the most important thing I learned about God. Time after time, we had to make financial sacrifices to keep our church plant afloat.
Despite the fact my husband made a consistent salary from our denomination, he had to make cuts in pay to offset the lack of income coming in from tithes and offerings. Yet each month we had enough money to pay our mortgage and other bills, even when they seemed mounting.
Our last paycheck from the church plant corresponded with the week we closed the doors of the plant. This showed me that Jesus meant what he said in Matthew 6:25: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?”
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2. God’s Hospitality
Throughout the Bible, God speaks about His disciples leaning on others to meet their needs, allowing others to demonstrate their gift of hospitality.
We learned not only to demonstrate hospitality, but also to receive it. When the money we earned became scarce, I had to humble myself and receive gifts to meet our monetary and other physical needs.
Hospitality is one of the gifts the church can display the easiest to their brothers and sisters in Christ. Hospitality is not just welcoming people in your home. It can simply mean giving someone a tissue when they are sad or providing for someone’s physical needs in a monetary way.
Allowing people to display hospitality to me not only blessed me and met me my needs, but it also blessed them and gave God glory.
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3. God’s Promises
God makes many promises to His children. One of these promises is found in Exodus 14:14, “The Lord will fight for you, you need only be still.” At times it was tough to believe God would fight for us, especially when we were too weary to fight for ourselves.
When church members tried to backstab and talk about us behind our backs. God resolved it all. Whether it was moving those people on to different churches or allowing a hard conversation that resulted in peace and clearer communication, God did fight for us.
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4. God’s Love
For many years, I knew in my head that God loved me, but didn’t believe it in my heart. Although I may ever fully comprehend God’s unconditional love for me in this life, I understood God’s love in a deeper, more meaningful way.
I learned to lean on God when the attendance waxed and waned. I learned to cry out to Him and rely on him for my daily bread. I understood that just because the church plant did not last, that did not mean God loved me less. It merely meant He had fulfilled our purpose for His work at that time.
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5. God’s Grace
If I’m honest, my attitude towards the church plant (specifically its success or failure) was not always positive. When things got tough, I channeled my anger about my circumstances towards God. But God in His grace did not retaliate.
Instead He loved me through it. When I neglected to pray, he waited patiently for me to commune with Him. When I cried out to Him, He allowed me to be as angry and sad as I needed to be, listening to my fears and drying my tears. He often flooded my heart with peace when I was fearful, and when we closed the doors, He provided a new church with a home where we could immediately move.
Although it wasn’t always easy for me to see at the time, looking back I see how much God was gracious even when my attitude was not right.
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6. God’s Sovereignty
I lived in a home where my mother ran the household. I learned early on what women were in authority. This can be a good thing, but it wasn’t until I put my faith and trust in God that I understood a man’s authority in my life, too. God is supreme authority over my life, but I had to hand Him over all the parts of my life, not just the ones that I wanted to control. God’s sovereignty requires my whole life, not just parts.
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7. God’s Wisdom
In my first years as a Christian, when life is not going the way I planned, I would pout, crossing my arms across my chest. But I learned that God says no because He knows what is best for me. I have learned to view God’s “no” as God sparing me from something unfavorable.
God said no to us many times throughout the years of that church plant. But when I opted to be grateful rather than angry at God for a closed door, I knew I was growing in my maturity in God.
God knows every day of my life, from the first to the last. His ways are higher than my ways, and His thoughts are higher than my thoughts. I need to trust in God’s wisdom that He—rather than I—know what is best for my life.
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8. God’s Sacrifice
God’s ultimate sacrifice came in the form of his son, Jesus. But being a Christian for so long, it is easy to take the greatest sacrifice for granted.
However, I better understood true sacrifice when we did the church plant. I couldn’t have all the luxuries everyone else around me could afford, due to low finances. I couldn’t take time off of church when I felt weary like everyone else because I needed to be a strong support for my husband.
Anyone who takes a leap of faith for God is going to experience some sort of sacrifice, whether it is financial or physical. But God made the ultimate sacrifice for us through the atoning death of Christ. I feel honored I get to sacrifice for Him.
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9. God’s Sense of Humor
If we are created in God’s image, then He certainly has a sense of humor! Even when times are toughest, God would provide humorous moments to restore my sadness with joy. Whether it was a funny saying, a dance from my kids, reliving a personal joke with my husband, or a fun fellowship night with church members. God always snuck in ways to make us laugh, giving us a moment (albeit small) of escape from the pressures church planting brought to us.
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10. God’s Purpose
God said He has a plan and purpose for our lives. I knew the church plant was what I needed to do at the time, but what I learned through that time of faith was that God’s purpose can change overtime.
Simply because God is asking me to do that plant for that time, it did not mean he was going to ask me to do that all the time. His purpose can change as His work changes. He may ask me to do something new as part of a bigger plan that I can only see a piece of, much like a puzzle. The bigger picture is revealed in pieces instead of all at once.
Stepping out in faith always involves a sense of instability and unpredictability. The outcome may not be how I wanted we want it to be, but God, even when the outcome is unsure, does not waste the pain. He brings us to a new maturity and new intimacy with Him. And that is the best step of faith of all.
Michelle S. Lazurek is an award-winning author, speaker, pastor's wife and mother. Winner of the Golden Scroll Children's Book of the Year, the Enduring Light Silver Medal and the Maxwell Award, she is a member of the Christian Author's Network and the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association. She is also an associate literary agent with Wordwise Media Services. For more information, please visit her website at michellelazurek.com.
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Originally published Friday, 09 November 2018.