Russ Ray

Trying to become more like Jesus

Another step of faith

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Last month, I mentioned how 2013 was a difficult year for our family, and that despite all that went on, God had everything under control.

So far for 2014, I’ve left a job that I had for 8 years with a lot more security, better benefits, and a horrific commute for a job that is slower-paced (driving me nuts), has no benefits besides my vacation time (also driving me nuts), and the best commute that I’ve ever had (cut that hour or more in half).

God has used this new job as a fresh start. I’ve dusted off some skills that I had forgotten that I had, and once my project really gets going, it could be a big deal for our state.

My wife and I prayed for months for God to sustain us through that time, and He did… even when the doors that presented themselves weren’t the right ones and we had to move along to the next one. He gave us the wisdom to see what we might not have noticed if we weren’t looking closely.

God has since given me some time of refreshment, because now when I get home from work, I’m not rushing to eat, put everybody to bed, watch a bit of TV with my wife, and fall into bed just to start it all over again the next day. When I get home from work, I actually have time to spend with my wife and the girls.

So, once we walked along in faith on the path that God was leading us, would you expect Him to have us just park it and chill for a few years?

Probably not… in fact, I was surprised at how quickly the next step came along.

Last month, my wife got a random phone call from the husband of a college classmate. He pastors a church about 20 minutes from our house and he asked my wife if she wanted to be the worship leader of their church.

Obviously, that was a bit of a shock. He told her that he and his wife had been praying about this vacancy on their staff, and she was the first who came to mind. Within the last month or so, we have also been preparing ourselves to visit the church, getting all the obvious stuff out of the way like understanding their beliefs and theology and making sure we are in agreement.

My wife, understandably, is excited. She was on the worship team at our old church, and at our current church, that opportunity just has never presented itself. But the time wasn’t wasted – God taught us a lot about what it really means to be a church (not the building) and valuable lessons that we could take into this new ministry. Plus, God grew us in discipline and maturity, which we will definitely need to continue.

And, yes… I did am referring to “we”. I feel like this will be our ministry, even though you wouldn’t catch me dead singing on a stage. I figure I can help her out and be the AV tech nerd that I’m always typecast to be while she’s doing the real work. And after our first visit, there will be real work. We compared notes after our visit Sunday and there are real areas that need to be developed so that worship will not just be singing, but singing directly to God about Him and about how much we love Him.

It will be very difficult to move from a church that is blessed with so many gifted and talented people to a church where those talents will either need to be found, cultivated, or entrusted to God to provide. But really, as I was thinking yesterday in the drive-thru at Taco Bell (where God provides me with many spiritual epiphanies), if the job was easy, why would we need God? And if the job didn’t need God, then why would we do it?

I don’t remember many stories in the Bible where a leader was given everything that was needed at the beginning of His ministry so that immediate success was guaranteed. Gideon had to cut his army down from 22,000 to 300 (Judges 7:2-7). Even Moses didn’t have everything. There was plenty of money in the treasury for the building of the tabernacle in the wilderness and the implements of worship (Exodus 36:3-6), but Moses also led a nation of people who had never properly worshipped God before and didn’t know how to approach Him (or reverted back to idolatry).

I talked to a pastor friend about this today, and he told me something that I will need to keep in mind throughout this next step of our journey: we won’t get anywhere without prayer, and we won’t be able to lead anyone without God. We are getting close to a decision, and I know that as we consider what God wants us to do, there are going to be a lot of unknowns and known challenges that will make this step difficult and possibly frustrating, and we may even question our decision afterwards.

But somehow, I think that’s just how God likes it and wants it to be. Otherwise, why would we need God? And if the job didn’t need God, then why would we do it?


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