“Life is not always perfect. Like a road, it has many bends, ups and down, but that’s its beauty.”
I'm sure many of you are curious about the details of our journey over the last year. In my previous post, I made mention of it being difficult year--full of ups and down--and while I'd never want to walk that road again, I'm thankful we have because it has brought us to where we are now.
Seeing God lead down a path we couldn't fully see was hard but beautiful, and I want to give you a glimpse of how He led us. We are broken people asking God to use us...He shines through our brokenness which is what I hope you see so that you will not say, "Look at the Ervins!" but so you will say "Look at how great our God is!"
There are so many details that I cannot include them all, but I'll hit the highlights and give you the best glimpse of God in our story that I can.
In early 2016 it became apparent that we were not going to be able to church plant in the way we had been envisioning. So we began to pray and just ask God to lead us wherever he wanted us--we didn't know if that would even be church planting/revitalizing and we were open to whatever He had for us.
On June 10 we were just finished up rehearsal for my sister's wedding when my mom "happened" upon a gentleman and his two grandsons walking down the street in front of the wedding venue. In her typical fashion, my mom struck up conversation and came to find out that one of the boys was around the same age as G-man. She encouraged him to find G and play with him.
I was sitting on the porch and up came a little boy who asked me if I had seen G. Though I didn't know him, I figured it was okay to point him in G's direction...Michael had taken him to our cottage for a few minutes. I glanced over a few moments later and found Michael talking to the grandfather of the boy (typical of him to strike up conversation with anyone in his path). I honestly thought nothing of it until later that night when Michael informed me that the grandfather was a local pastor. As they continued talking Michael found out that he had a vision to train young men and send them out to revitalize or plant churches in the Appalachian region. Seriously?!? A "chance" meeting that led to that discussion. We were both shocked.
The next day Michael ran into him again and they talked briefly but made plans to have lunch soon.
That lunch meeting proved to be pivotal. As they met and Michael listened it was as if this man shared the same vision...as if he had been inside Michael's head and heart. He was speaking words Michael and I had spoken in our own private conversations regarding church planting. The thing that totally struck us was when he mentioned that he could really see our family planting a church in a town like Clarksburg/Bridgeport, WV. Maybe not significant to just anyone, but that was the first town we had really looked at when we first began dreaming of church planting several years prior. We had loved the area and just could never get away from it. For him to say that he could see us in that exact town was another confirmation that we needed to follow Holy Spirit's leading and continue walking this road. Michael made plans to preach at his church the following month to just see how God would lead.
The day came for us to load up the car with our three littles and drive the hour commute for Michael to preach. It was a horrible morning. The spiritual warfare was evident in each of our hearts. The closer we got to the church the worse it got. Our children were acting out, throwing tantrums in the car. Maybe that doesn't sound like a spiritual battle to you, but in my life my enemy knows how to get to me and its usually through my children causing chaos. That pushes my buttons like nothing else. Michael prayed over our family while we were in the car and once we arrived at the exit we pulled off to pray again and talk with the kids. Praying had an enormous effect on the chaos and brought peace to the entire situation. We were well received by the people at this small, Appalachian church. Lunch afterwards with the pastor and his family proved to be another confirmation.
The discussion over lunch was simple. Nothing earth shattering to the casual on-looker, but without having to bring up the topics and questions we had already discussed, the pastor brought up each one of our concerns and thoughts. He even spoke to wounds in my heart that had developed over the past year...he spoke truth to them.
He asked us to take two weeks to pray about whether this was God's leading. We agreed.
We got in the car to leave and looked at one another.
We both knew we didn't need two weeks.
This was God's leading.
To be continued...