Yesterday was our last Sunday as worship leaders at our church. Ever since Roman and I felt like God was calling us away, we’ve tried to prep ourselves emotionally for leaving our home church. I think we failed miserably at that. I didn’t even make it through the worship set before I started crying. Looking over at the worship team that we have led for around three years…..all of them friends so close that I consider them my family (plus my father-in-law who actually is my family)....gosh, I just couldn’t take it. Our praise team has such a special connection. We operate so well within the moving of the Holy Spirit. We can follow each other and feel where the music needs to go. It’s hard to put it into words, but I can say that this connection and togetherness is not very common among praise teams. I am going to miss being a part of such a wonderful group of vocalists and musicians SO much. And so I cried….through like, the entire third song.
I started looking over our sweet congregation…and then I really lost it.
Y’all. If you don’t know my church family, you should get to know them. You won’t find a sweeter, more caring group of people who want to know Jesus more than anything. Their worship is pure, genuine and fearless. Their love is strong and unwavering. I have had the privilege of *attempting* to lead them in worship for around three years, but to tell you the truth, they don’t need my help. To be able to see them worshipping Jesus every week is a true blessing, one that I am dearly going to miss.
Roman and I truly had no idea that our church family was going to bless us like they did yesterday. So basically, once the worship was over and I started crying again because I realized our last set list together was officially over, I pretty much didn’t stop crying until we started eating lunch. The slideshow was beautiful and represented so many special memories of our journey at First Assembly. The words spoken by some of our dearest friends and family truly touched our hearts. I don’t think I’ve ever seen Roman cry in our entire relationship, so for him to break down like he did during the service yesterday truly shows how much it meant for him. The financial blessing was God’s way of providing for a great need in our lives right now, and we can’t be more thankful. It was an all-around beautiful service and we were emotional wrecks for like, the entire rest of the day.
My devotion last night was perfect for yesterday. The passage was out of Luke 2, and the focus was on verse 19: “But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.” The original translation for the word “pondered” in this passage of Scripture is “symballo” and it means “to bring together.” Mary took the events leading up to Jesus’ birth and the immediate events with the shepherds afterwards and “brought them together” in her mind. She pieced together all of the wondrous works of God and treasured them, because she knew she was holding the Messiah in her arms. The devotion ended with a challenge: spend some time reviewing over the last several years in your life. What major events has God brought you through that have shaped you into who you are today? “Ponder” them for a moment. And so last night, as I read my devotion and got ready for bed, I did just that.
When I review the last six years of my life, I can see the hand of God all over. I see a broken girl graduating from high school with more questions than she can count and a hardened heart towards God. I see this girl going back to First Assembly with all of her questions, insecurities, and doubts. I see a loving church family who took her in and dedicated the time and energy to shape her into who she is today. I see the best pastor and pastor’s wife in the world patiently mold her into a leader. I see friends that will last a lifetime entering into her life. I see her getting married and a church body that has supported and counselled this new marriage into what God wants it to be. I see her getting baptized in the Holy Spirit. I see the boldness and courage of the Holy Spirit rise up in her as she steps into leadership. I see a group of people who stood beside her, encouraged her, and prayed for her every step of the way.
Stepping down as worship leaders and making that final “break” yesterday was truly the hardest thing we’ve ever had to do. I cried on and off for the rest of the day….and this morning….and I’ll probably cry tomorrow too….and probably the day after that. So much of my life and who I am today rests on the beautiful congregation we left behind yesterday and their willingness to follow Christ. There truly are not enough words that I can write on this blog that could ever convey my gratitude for this body of believers.
So to the dear people of First Assembly: We love you more than we can express. Thank you so much for being who you are…for being who God called you to be. Continue worshipping our Lord and Savior and seeking after His heart. Don’t stop running this race! Keep your eyes focused on Christ and the work He has called you to. We can’t wait to hear about all that God does through you, and we can’t wait to share everything He does through us as well. Know that this certainly is not goodbye; after all, we are only two hours away! ;) Thank you SO much for such a sweet service yesterday, it meant a lot to both of us (even though I cried too much.)
And to anyone else reading this who is not a member of First Assembly: seriously, you should get to know those folks. If this post hasn’t convinced you, then I don’t know what will!
I’ll close with Romans 12 because it accurately represents everything that my First Assembly family is, and everything we are called to be as a body of believers in Christ:
“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—His good, pleasing and perfect will. For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully. Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited. Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ says the Lord. On the contrary: ‘If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.’ Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”