We needed Ascend Church, no doubt about it. We needed the teaching and the warmth, the welcome and the embrace. We needed the acceptance and the love. And we had all of that for just two and a half months.
Twice, and sometimes three times a week, we made the forty minute drive to be a part of something going on with the church. Life group, Saturday morning prayer, and the weekly service, all became highlights of our week. Anything that clashed with those stood an extremely high chance of being rescheduled, postponed, or cancelled.
It is a new church, but so vibrant and Spirit-filled. We felt at home with the loud music, the diversity, and the freedom of movement the Spirit is allowed. We were welcomed even though they knew nothing about us. They wanted to hear what we had to say, and wanted our presence at their events.
When we came to Ascend we were walking wounded. In the few weeks we were there God used that church body to bandage us with their warmth and laughter. He washed our wounds with the Word that was preached every Sunday, and gave us hope for the future and a life beyond what we were going through. In other words, God used Ascend Church to heal us, and then to send us out.
We didn’t get a chance to serve there although that was what we knew we wanted to do. Their vision was easy to catch and we wanted to grab a hold of it with them and run with it. We could see where they could use us, and we really, really, wanted to give our gifting, talents, and skill sets, to their cause; but it was not to be.
If it were possible, we would have found a way to be a part of that church for the next few years. We would have moved closer to it, found work in that part of the country, and excitedly and wholeheartedly joined the movement; but we didn’t have the ‘stay’ option; we had to leave, and that really, really hurt.
‘Church macoby’ is a real thing. Finding a church that fits is not as easy as it should be; finding one that fits perfectly is rare. To have to leave it hurts like a breakup. The question we find ourselves asking each other is, why would God let us enjoy that, get caught up in it, and swept along in it; and then move us so far away?
We know we didn’t have the option to stay, and we also know without a doubt that we are exactly where God wants us to be. I struggled to come to terms with letting go of something we loved so much, and choosing to trust that what God has for us is way better than we can imagine.
We are now walking the delicate balance of grieving what we had to let go of, while fully opening our hearts to embrace this new place and the new people that God has for us. We throw ourselves wholeheartedly into the new adventure, but in quiet moments we sometimes turn to each other and to God and ask, Why?
We understand that He doesn’t have to give us an answer yet, and we live with that like we live with the fact that it rains in Seattle and snows in Michigan. We know that we don’t have to see something for it to be real, and we are trusting that this move will bring more blessing than we can ever imagine. We anticipate this new life, and are hopeful for what will come of it. We trust the Father that He knows what He is doing, and so we hold nothing back as we go into each new day, each new experience. This is His thing, and we are along for the ride.
We grieve, but we move forward with purpose. For us, it isn’t about the pain of leaving something we love and can envision a future with; it is about trusting God with our future even though we can’t see where He is taking us. In those quiet moments when the church macoby hits, there are a few tears, but even then, there is an overwhelming peace that makes us know we are indeed in great hands.
Years from now, we will look back on that short, sweet, time at Ascend and we will tell the story of how God allowed us to pass through there at a time when we desperately needed them. We will have an understanding of why He allowed that season, and how He used it in our lives. We know that to get to that story we need to be wholeheartedly doing one day at a time in the life He has us living now. Our focus isn’t the church we don’t have anymore; our focus is Him, and what He requires from us today. So we let go and trust Him, and we look forward to when we get to tell that story.
©Debbie Mendoza, December 2018