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Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Thoughts

It's been a while since I've posted anything of real value. I've posted pictures and surveys, but nothing thats been truly insightful on what's been going on in Hannah's life these past few months.

This past week, I had the opportunity to go with my staff to the Willow Creek Leadership Summit Simulcast at Crossings here in OKC. It was phenomenal. The things that impacted me the most personally was Pastor Wayne Cordeiro's talk entitled "dead leader running" and Pastor Andy Stanley's talk on "focused leadership". Stanley talked about how we as church leaders forget that Jesus promised that HE would build the church and that we feel the stress of the church's expectations, our expectations, what we think are God's expectations of us. Stanley said that God's going to build His church with or without us. It's amazing how much pressure that takes off of me-on my abilities or lack thereof. God's going to build His church. He promises that. More on that later after this segueway.

Pastor Wayne talked about his own struggles with burn-out and how on one Sunday, they were having church outside and it had begun to rain early Sunday Morning. Pastor Wayne said that all the way to church he was begging and pleading that God would stop the rain so that they could have church. He said there was a lightning bolt moment of clarity when he heard God say, "You are more worried about the absence of rain than the presence of God." Wow.

I realized in that moment, that was me. Life, since the first of May has been a downpour. Things with work were stressful, things with friends were stressful, things with my finances were stressful. There was no relief. Things hit "critical mass" right before my friend Rachel's wedding. I knew that things could not continue on in this way. I knew that I was very near a breakdown. I'd been praying and praying for relief, for God to stop the storm in my life and I hadn't seen him working. It was still raining. I was still encountering stress from work, stress from loneliness and stress from other adulthood woes. After Rachel's wedding and Orlando things looked a little brighter for me until I realized that I was still the same and that going away hadn't cured any of the problems here, it just granted a temporary escape.

I was still looking for the rain to stop instead of looking for God in the rain. There's a line in the Casting Crowns song, "Praise you in this storm" that reminds me of that it says,

I was sure by now,
God you would have reached down and wiped our tears away,
swept in and saved the day,
but once again, I say 'amen' and it's still raining

Everytime I played that song, that line would haunt me. How can I say amen? How can God expect me to praise Him? Why isn't he making this better?

Enter Leadership Summit:

During Pastor's Wayne's talk, he led us in a time of prayer. He asked us to put our hands on our heart. During the prayer he asked that God be with those of us who'd been struggling, for those of us who'd been tired, frustrated, stressed. During that prayer there was a video montage running scenes over and over in my head of my life that led up to the events in May, all the hurt, the betrayal, the stress, the doubt brought to the surface and I started to cry out of relief. I realized finally that yes, it's been stormy and yes it may be for a while longer still, but God's hand has been there, that God, in His great love and care for me, had provided. I'd just been too busy asking for the rain to stop to see God handing me the umbrella. (Pardon the cheesy cliche)

Saturday Night after some time in prayer and the word, I started to really take to heart what Andy Stanley and Pastor Wayne were saying. That God is present and is going work no matter what. And I think that for the first time since November, I've been at peace.

1 comments:

Jamie said...

Hannah Lou-
I'm glad you're finally realizing how much God really IS there for you and how much He really DOES care. Sometimes the greatest gifts He gives us are those unanswered (or seemingly unanswered) prayers that we utter over and over again. He DOES listen. He DOES see. We just don't see Him all the time. So, I'm glad you're finally at peace. Know that God never abandons you... and neither will I-- even if we do live thousands of miles apart!