On Sunday, November 2, my family and I led the service at our church regarding our trip to Romania. Before the service began, I instructed the greeters to please seat the men to the left and the ladies to the right. After a little storm which occurred in my absence of checking on the food, they happily sat the men to the right and the ladies to the left. :-) This sat up part of my presentation to the church. I was tasked with speaking about whether we were afraid to go. The answer to that question is an emphatic NO. We were not afraid. We wanted to trust Jesus and follow His lead. But, that does not mean the trip was without anxiety. The following is part of what I said. This morning, I believe that there is someone out there that needs to be reminded that stretching of God and fear to move on are not the same thing. Hopefully, this will bless you. It comes out of my own lessons of the last few months.
Not being afraid, however, is not the same as not being out of my comfort zone. I was way out of my comfort zone. It took me out of my comfort zone long before we left and I stayed there through the entire trip. It may come as a surprise to you all, especially those of you who have had the pleasure of helping me get ready for today, but I have a few issues with control. [additional note: there was enormous laughter here, I really can't understand why this was so funny!] Tiny ones. But issues none the less. And anyone around me pre-vacation knows that my Type A, OCD monster emerges. I am fanatical about having a detailed list of everything that needs to go into the suitcase. The tickets are checked daily so I know where they are. The passports are physically touched a few thousand times before we leave the house and I check a dozen times in the car on the way to the airport to make sure they haven’t somehow gotten lost in transit. I need details, lots of details. I can’t tell you exactly what it looks like in the [trip organiser's] house before a trip, but I can tell you that it does not look like my house. He does not have a Type A, OCD monster that emerges. And that throws me totally out of my comfort zone. So far out, in fact that seven days before the trip I still did not know what time we were leaving! And four days before we left, I still did not know when we were coming back, and we were coming back without him! I was out of my comfort zone. Ask my prayer group. I was begging God for any details to quell my inner monster. German, of course, was saying “He has the details, its fine.” I trusted (sort of) that he had the details, but I needed to see them. But…before we even left God was taking me out of a comfort zone that provides what I want when I think I need it. There were lessons before we left. And I was excited to be going, even in the anxiety. Because I knew that God was leading us there. In all honesty, I began to understand long before we left for Romania that the real change that God wanted when he sent us there was going to happen in me.
Some of you are probably out of your comfort zone this morning. You are seeing a perspective of this church that you did not know existed. If you are a guest this morning, don’t worry, we don’t normally segregate men from women. But in Romania they do. What did that mean for me? My comfort zone is that I want to be with German when I am out of my comfort zone. And for all of these church services, I would not be able to be with him. Not only that, but it would fall to me to keep two little girls entertained and quiet ON THE FRONT ROW where everyone can see us for a 2-3 hour church service in a language that they cannot understand. Out of my comfort zone.
I could go on and on, but you get the picture. Trips like this one take us out of our comfort zone. Food, customs, expectations all stretched us out of our comfort zones. But God was totally faithful in supplying our needs. Through the rest of the presentation, German will show you the pictures and tell what we saw and what the needs are. And I hope that you will take that stuff to heart. The needs are real and whether we give, we pray or we go, God will use our faithfulness. But I want you to take one other thing away today as well. Last night at a concert several of us attended [Casting Crowns], the lead singer prayed that “the fear that has held the church would be removed.” I want today, at [our church name] Church, for us to say no to the fear that so often cripples the church. I want you to see that saying yes to God may lead you to face your discomfort but it is not scary. I want you to realize that being stretched by God is not the same thing as facing fear. I want you to see that he gave this family the grace to communicate beyond language, to encourage and to bring joy. I want you to see how he used those elderly, poverty-facing congregations to encourage us! I want when you walk away today, for you to have no excuse…you are not too young (He used Jewel and Flower to minister in even a mental hospital!), you are not too old (the elderly congregations ministered to us), you are not too shy, you are not too busy. You are not whatever else "it" is that you think you are that limits your ability to serve. You are a child of God that He loves and will equip for the tasks He gives you. I want you to believe that God enables when God leads. Because He does!
Have a blessed weekend. Live in His strength. Trust Him to guide. Don't let fear hold you back!