What a joy it is to finally be here with you! For months now, my husband Ryan and I have been praying about this transition, about finally being here to share in the ministry that you are already doing both here and in Orange City. As you know, Ryan is also an ordained elder and is already hard at work serving the community at Orange City United Methodist Church. When Ryan and I said yes to this move in early Spring, we never imagined it would happen in the middle of a global pandemic, but God is certainly showing us a lot along the way.
One thing I’ve noticed over the last two weeks as we’ve moved to a new home in a new community, moved to a new school for our two children and of course transitioned to two new places of work; I’ve gotten lost a lot. I used to under appreciate just how important that little app is on your phone called Maps, because once you have lived somewhere long enough you don’t need it anymore. However, over the last 2 weeks, I’ve used my Maps APP so very much that I really can’t leave the house anymore without my phone. I’ve used it to get to the important places; you know, to the church, school, home, Publix and of course Jeremiah’s ice cream shop! And over the last few days, I was thinking about how that application on our phone is so indicative of our journey of faith as well. When you type in your destination for instance there’s oftentimes a couple of different ways to get there with varying degrees of arrival times based on traffic patterns or construction. But there’s always the hope that you know you’ll eventually get there even if you make a few wrong turns along the way. I sure am thankful for God’s grace because I don’t know about you, but in my journey of faith, I’ve made some wrong turns and I’ve hit some roadblocks or always followed the speed limit.
We don’t like uncertainty and we don’t like feeling lost or not knowing what is next. We wish that our faith journey and our following Jesus could look a little more like following the directions on our Maps APP, one with a clear path and arrival time. But we miss the journey when that is our focus, and quite frankly, we miss the good work that God is doing in us, through the Holy Spirit on this journey. Sometimes the journey is painful, or unexpected, or frustrating; but we grow along the way. I just finished studying the book of James last month and there are some modern ways of saying this truth that puts the struggles of the journey in perspective.
“Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when test and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way. If you don’t know what you’re doing, pray to the Father. He loves to help.” James 1:2-5 The Message
This journey we are on leaves room for getting lost and making wrong turns, but not for the sake of frustration, but for the sake of the grace of Jesus growing us into mature followers of Him. This is a journey to be embraced and lived into, and not only a destination to arrive at. I hope the next time you use your Maps APP or GPS, you will think about your own journey of faith and how the tests and challenges we are facing today are growing each of us into mature and well-developed disciples. And if you get lost, and you will from time to time, don’t forget to ask God for directions, and keep going.
Grace and Peace,