This morning in church I was reminded that my life is lived within a community of believers. Pastor Ken's sermon was on the journey of faith, and how faith acts as the handle by which we can grip the issues of life. Obedience being the driving force that allows faith to become an ongoing verb.
How does this relate to the community in which I belong? Almost a year ago, Papi and I began to pray about the possibility of going to Italy to help start Young Life. As we began to listen to God, follow the Spirit's guidance, and receive confirmation from respected friends, we decided to begin a journey of faith. Within three months Papi resigned from his job, we put our house up for sale, and I began to divide our things into what stays, what goes, and what is stored. How in the world you girls had accumulated so many stuffed animals was beyond me! I was excited, sad, overwhelmed, focused, nervous, and after a few months wondered if I might need some medication during this process (Papi might have advocated for that as well). I began to filter everything by how it affected ME . . . what ME was giving up . . . what ME had to do in order to make this happen . . . what ME was going to gain . . . the sacrifices ME was making . . . the rewards ME would receive . . . the faith it took ME to embark upon this journey . . . the obedience ME was practicing. So, as the comedian Brian Reagan might say, I became a ME monster.
I admit that I wasn't completely clueless. I was aware that we were asking people to financially support us. I was aware that my mother was welcoming our family of 7 and a dog into her modest 3 bedroom house. I was aware that you girls would change schools, cities, homes, and friends. I was aware that the church Arturo was serving in Dublin would need to find another youth pastor. I was aware, but the awareness of my own sacrifices, feelings, and obedience trumped everything else.
The immediate plan was to raise support and be in Italy by September, and when that plan did not materialize we switched gears to adjusting to live at Grammy's for the school year. Papi began to shoot weddings, I got a part time job, and daily life settled over us.
My faith began to look a bit like the waves of the sea, and some days I rode those waves with joy and other days I felt like I was drowning. My journey of faith was a bit murky, and I was struggling to get out of the inconsistent waves onto solid ground.
Sunday rolls in, and at 8:50 I tell Papi maybe we should try another church with a later service. . . of course this was said while I still laid in bed. Between a 40hr work week from my part time job, the first week of my two masters classes, a few late night interruptions for water (which by the way I pray ends soon), and basic laziness I was not thrilled about scrambling to make it to the 9:30 service. It's amazing what the look of a mother will do, even at 38 years old. So when Grammy came in to see why I wasn't getting ready for church I scrambled out of bed, threw some 'princess' dresses on you girls with Grammy's help, and made it out the door for church.
'The Journey of Faith' was the sermon title. I am glad I do not believe in coincidence. Pastor Ken reminded us of our heritage of faith warriors, taught that obedience is necessary to live by faith, and that our faith journey affects the community of believers.
At this moment, my ME monster took a fatal blow, and my heart warmed to the reminder that I am not alone in this journey of faith. You girls are on this journey with Papi and I, changing homes and accepting with innocence the changes inherent in moving to another country. Grammy is joyfully on this journey of faith with us as she allows her home to be ours, and unfortunately is living through a 'remodeling' process with all of your toys. Girls, Tia Kelly and Tio Frank & Tia Sarah are on this journey with us in many ways. But even more amazing is that our Spiritual family is on this journey with us, supporting us with money, prayers, and encouragement. In the grips of the ME monster I had lost sight of the fact that others are taking steps of faith, and acting in obedience to support us. They are making sacrifices so that they will be able to join us in this journey of faith - the journey that God has called us to walk. I praise God that we are not alone. That God Himself is walking this path with us, and that He has called others to join us so that together we can walk as a community and not as individual ME monsters.
Girls, it was a beautiful reminder of what the body of Christ looks like in action - together we are meant to walk the journey of faith - as one body . . . and I am encouraged and so grateful.