Truth is...I never meant to be here.
If you would’ve told this Arkansas “home-er” that he was going to be living in Texas serving in a traditional Methodist church 4 years ago, I would have thought you were crazy. That wasn’t really in my plans. And yet, now that I’m here I know it was by no mistake or accident. So how did this happen? It all goes back to a few nights of stress and a few key steps of faithfulness.
A few years ago God began to drastically change my life. The first 25 years of my life were spent in Northwest Arkansas. In high school, often people would say things like - “I can’t wait to get out of here.” They wanted something different, bigger, better I guess, but that wasn’t me. I loved my hometown and didn’t want to leave.
One night around Thanksgiving of 2011, I was feeling stressed out. In fact, I couldn’t sleep at all. Whenever something starts rolling around in my mind at night, I have a hard time letting it go. On this particular night I was having a hard time figuring out what was causing my stress. It felt heavy. Something about this stress felt different than other stressful moments. I knew God was doing something.
Often God has shown up in my life in all the ways I don’t expect - in the small and simple, the mundane or even in the stress and anxiety of life. In retrospect, I call this stress I was feeling that night “holy anxiety.”
I know... it’s kind of a cheesy way of putting it, but there truly was something sacred in the stress. I knew God was telling me to move. To take the next step. To begin a new adventure. And I was scared.
I didn’t want to leave home. I didn’t want to move. I didn’t want to go wherever it was God was wanting me to go. Perhaps that’s what was causing the anxiety, or perhaps God was creating the right tension in me to make a change. I needed the stress to push me out of my comfort zone and into a place of dependance on God.
So my wife and I moved for the first time ever to a new state in a new time zone in a large metropolitan area - Atlanta, Georgia. You see, there was something in that stress and anxiety that I knew God was working in. Today I look back and know that it began a journey I never dreamed would happen. One that led me to another new state and to another new town - Katy, Texas.
Now, I’m learning to not run from God’s calling, but to run to it. Get in the mess, dig down, and wrestle through the tension because God's in there. It seems the more I do this, the more I begin to experience God. I begin to understand that God is pulling me out of my comfort zone into a greater story. It’s how I’ve ended up in Texas - following a calling I never knew would be happening.
So, while I may have never meant to be here, it seems God certainly did.
Written by Mark
I fought church for a long time.
As a young girl, I dreaded church because I equated it with wearing a dress, something that, at 30 years old, I am still not a fan of. I would “volunteer” to sit with my baby sister in the nursery just so I could turn off the speaker broadcasting the sermon and play.
When my family moved to Texas, we never found a church to attend regularly, so we became that family that might show up at Easter. That was fine with me - I was perfectly content to eat my Cadbury Creme Eggs and not give the day any more thought.
But once I reached high school, something started to change. On those infrequent, random times I would go to a church service, I would cry silently in the pew, my tears spurred on by a hymn, verse, or message. It wasn’t until many years later that I realized I cried not out of sadness, but out of conviction.
Crying in church caused a conflict of emotions. On the one hand, I felt a strange sense of relief on those Sundays. But on the other, I felt plain strange - no one else around me ever cried; what was wrong with me? I was hesitant to go back to church, not being able to predict or control the waterworks.
Finally, after years of saying to myself I should give this church thing a try for real, I convinced myself to go. For a few weeks I found myself in that familiar situation, only this time I was in an unfamiliar church pew. I slipped in every Sunday alone and sat in the back so that whenever the waterworks decided to turn on I wouldn’t have to worry about anyone taking notice of me.
Then one Sunday morning, quite unexpectedly, I experienced God in a life-changing way. I was sitting alone in my back pew. The service was coming to an end, and the pastor invited anyone who felt called to join the church to come forward. This was not an unusual occurrence; he ended his sermon that way every week. But that particular Sunday, as the invitation hung in the air, a voice inside me told me to go, not to miss this opportunity. Somehow I comprehended the significance of that unfamiliar voice, and it propelled me forward to the front of the sanctuary where, at the age of 27, I was baptized.
After the service I stood with the pastor outside the sanctuary and was welcomed to FUMC Katy by well-wishing members. Though that morning was a blur, I distinctly remember one member who was around my age, blond, clean-cut. He shook my hand and said, “Congratulations.” Something inside me noted that this was significant.
Our paths didn’t cross again until seven months later when I walked into my Sunday school class for the first time since returning home from a summer job. There he was, this guy I had been searching for in the sanctuary every Sunday since we shook hands, in my class! About a month after that second meeting we started dating, and now two years later we are married.
Written by Whitney
As I was sitting at a family function many years ago when my youngest, Jenna, was very small and very sick, my Aunt Doris told me that God had blessed Jenna with our family. I quickly told her that, No, God had blessed us with Jenna.
I grew up in the church. My mother played the organ for the churches we attended when we were young. I went to choir, MYF (Methodist Youth Fellowship), and helped with VBS (Vacation Bible School) during the summer. I felt like I knew God and was a pretty good Christian, but like most young adults, I sort of wandered away until I had children.
When Jenna was born it was pretty obvious something was a little different with her. The first 2 years of her life were very hard. She didn’t develop on a normal time frame, was considered a failure to thrive, and she had many more issues. There were many doctor visits with many different specialists. We had many sleepless nights. Finding things she could eat and trying to put weight on her was hard. It was stressful to me, my husband, and our other 3 children.
But what got me through was God. Isaiah 41:13 says:
For I am the LORD your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you,
When I trusted him, things didn’t seem so stressed. I was able to see that God had a plan for Jenna and a plan for us. He brought us closer together as a family. I found the calling he had planned for me all along. As the years go by I see how He has used Jenna to change the people she comes in contact with - kids at school, her teachers, and many in our community.
I sometimes still get a little overwhelmed and stressed, but I know God is holding onto my hand and is right there when I need him.
Written by April
A God moment? Let me see, so many to choose from…
Should I tell about the very last time I skipped Sunday School to play golf? That’s one round of golf I will never forget, nor will my buddy, who was inches away from getting zinged in the head by my broken 3 wood flying through the air!
Or how about the time my dad had fallen so ill he became a hollow shell of the man I once knew? Nah, I will save that one for another time.
You know, the frequency of God moments in my life is steadily increasing because, well, it took me a while to learn to look FOR HIM! So how about the day I met with the official Blog Team for the first time.
Previously when I was asked if I would be interested in joining the Blog Team I thought, “You mean I get to write about Jesus? Church? I am in!” Now, first of all, I am not a great writer…second of all, I don’t even know what a blog is apparently. While the other real bloggers were planning on the future blogs, my mind was racing to find a way to tell the powers that be that I made a mistake. To me - in my limited knowledge and experience - a blog is a discussion board or a forum with lots of back and forth. I was pretty sure I would not have anything to “blog” about, so I was planning my exit strategy.
Enter God, stage right.
So I head into church after our meeting feeling defeated, you know? Here I was, so pumped up to share my passion for Jesus, and I found myself backing away from the mic, so to speak, because I didn’t consider myself a blogger. As soon as I walk through the doors, Bud grabs me (if you don’t know Bud yet, you soon will) and says, “Hey, can you help serve Communion?”
“Yes! Of course!”
The first Sunday of each month is Communion Sunday for us in the United Methodist Church. Some call it The Lord’s Supper or Holy Communion, and it’s a pretty big deal for those of you who aren’t familiar with it. It is when we break bread and drink wine (grape juice) together in honor and remembrance of Jesus. The only thing better than partaking in Communion is getting to serve it!
And who did I end up standing next to while serving? The very guy I was about to tell that I was not going to participate in the whole blog thing: Reverend Mark. Awesome.
The people come. He hands them their portion of the bread and says to them something to the effect of, “The Body of Christ broken for you.” I then hold out the cup of grape juice and say, “The Blood of Jesus poured out for you.” Wow…
It is then that it hit me. While saying over and over again that this juice represents the blood of Jesus, poured out for you…for me. For me (and you) He was tortured and crucified, and I didn’t think I was capable of putting together 500+ words to share about Him?
Communion finished. I left immediately oh so disappointed with myself…jump in my truck…and smile. Then I say out loud, “Lord, I hear you.”
Thank you for Bud. Thank you for Communion. Thank you for this ministry and for the real bloggers. Thank you for FUMC Katy. Thank you for giving me yet another moment between You and me…and now everyone else.
Written by Harry
Looking back on my sophomore year as a junior, I now realize that I was so stressed out. All. The. Time.
I had all my school work, my homework, 25 pages of textbook reading every night, labs, choir music, etc. On top of that, everyone would ask me where I wanted to go to college, what I wanted to major in, and what I wanted to do with my life after college, when I had no clue myself.
So I would just stand there with a smile on my face and politely tell them that I still wasn't sure. It’s stressful not knowing what you want to do for the next 50 years of your life at 16!
I didn't know it at the time, but all I did with my life was school. I went to church youth group maybe a total of 10 times the whole school year. I never went to parties or really hung out with my friends. I put school before my relationships with my friends, my relationships with my family, and even my relationship with Christ.
A higher GPA was more important to me than going to youth group. I would rather be comfortable and do my daily little routine than take the extra time to focus on my Bible verse of the day.
Deep in the middle of the summer I was at a church camp. We were singing in worship, so studying and doing school work was the LAST thing on my mind. I was just singing along with the words on the screen when “Jesus is Better” by Austin Stone came on and this verse came up:
than any comfort / JESUS is better / make my heart believe
I don’t even know what happened then. A wave of relief or maybe like compassion - I don’t know what it was - came over me. I just felt changed.
I broke down into sobbing tears because that lyric really spoke to me. I realized I had put my own comfort before my association with Jesus and that the singer was right: Jesus IS better.
Better than getting an A on a test that you studied so hard for.
Better than being valedictorian in your class.
Better than getting into the college of your dreams.
He is better.
It just took me a while to realize that He has a plan for me and that I have to put my trust in Him. I know that everything happens to people for a reason because that’s just a small part of his plan for them.
“So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring enough worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today” (Matthew 6:34//NRSV)
Written by Sarah
Written by Katheryn
Has someone ever told you that they "found Jesus" or "became one with the spirit"?
Now unless they lost their copy of Jesus: The Movie, these people are most likely talking about their strongest personal experiences with the Holy Spirit. A God moment, if you will.
The other day I was thinking of a friend of mine who recently was shipped out to Missouri for Army basics. I’ve sent him a couple of letters and just got a reply to one of the questions I asked: What’s your least favorite part of basics? He wrote back that it was the screaming wake up call his officers gave him every morning, jolting him out of his dreams of food and family.
It occurred to me that this is the definition of a “God Moment” in a nutshell – a pivotal experience in one’s life, whether it is jolting like a sergeant yelling at you or the warm realization that the sun is in your face telling you to wake up and praise the Lord.
The most heavily alluded experience of this kind is the story of the prodigal son found in the book of Luke. After forcing his father to give him his inheritance early, the son wastes the money and is reduced to feeding the swine of a rude farmer. At this point the son asks himself: “How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death?” (Luke 15:17) This is the realization that he should have been grateful for all of the care his father had given him, and he asks his father for forgiveness.
In our lives most of us don’t really realize that God cares for us with all of his grace until some sort of drastic event takes place; however, there are those of us who feel we have had God moments that have just one day taken effect without the dramatic catalyst. These types of moments are no less valid than the others. They can be as simple as someone taking an interest in you and inviting you to church or deciding to take your beliefs seriously.
Personally, my God moment was pretty mundane. One day while taking a shower I noticed a small centipede crawling up the wall, frantically scrambling away from an ocean of water coming down on her head. In that moment I was humbled. If that bug could survive an OCEAN dropped on her head by trusting that she wouldn't die...why shouldn't I trust God's path for me?
Whatever type of experience, they all have the same base effect on you. They make you realize the truth –
that you have been trying to pilot your own life instead of letting God take control;
that you have just been following what you thought were rules without knowing that they are already there;
that all of your idiosyncrasies are what make you acceptable in the eyes of the Lord.
He wants to make us all whole, and these moments are what bring our shattered pieces together into one.
Prayer: Lord, help me find my way. Bring me to realize that you are in control no matter what and I should trust you with my whole being. I give myself up to you and praise you for giving me the chance to realize that you are the one. Amen.
Written by Benjamin
The 12:12 Project is sponsored by Katy First United Methodist Church.