Today in our Take Heart series, my friend Christie Elkins shares about how she felt God’s comfort even as she and her family watched their church crumble after almost a decade of ministry.
I exited the door, turned left, my worn ballet flats sliding slightly on the waxed floor. I scooted to a pause, for a moment. I had no idea which way to turn. It was then she grabbed my hand and showed me the way. Holding my breath, I followed blindly.
That was the end.
The beginning was almost eight years prior. Fresh out of college, newlyweds, we were seeking a place to worship with no abandon—a come as you are, a welcoming smile, a deep conversation about sin on a moldy secondhand couch. Despite the bugs, the dust, and the scratching of heads in the community, we went full force with a group of believers and launched a church in an old building on a forgotten side of town.
They said we were too young, too loud, wore too much black.
That was the beginning.
What transpired over the years to come was unexpected. It was fulfilling yet lonely. It was open arms or cold shoulders. It was encouragement in the most unlikely of places. It was the building up of lifelong friendships. Or the ones that got away who have not spoken since. It was worship with the sunrise, gospel sharing overseas, loving people at home. And still finding bugs here and there.
It was a whirlwind courtship between the Maker and his clay. He molded us. Changed us. Made us whole. Gave us direction.
They said we were too busy, too scattered, and had too many kids.
We visited a church. A different church. We had never sought out a church before– it seemed one always found us, especially with my husband being in the ministry. It was awkward. And uncomfortable. And when my daughter said she had to go to the bathroom, I jumped at the chance to exit the service.
So, I exited the door, turned left, my worn ballet flats sliding slightly on the waxed floor. I scooted to a pause, for a moment. I had no idea which way to turn. It was then she grabbed my hand and showed me the way. Holding my breath, I followed blindly. “The bathrooms are this way”, she smiled, and guided me down a long, shiny school hallway, with fluorescent lighting blazing into my eyes.
I gripped her hand tightly, fighting back tears. At that moment, the only friend I had, the only encouragement in ministry was my five year old child.
Everything is beautiful in its time. From the first moment of cracking open that dust filled building to the painful service where we stepped down from an eight year life of church ministry. There was a time—a time, a purpose, a place in His plan for the astounding things that happened over the course of those years. And while most would expect the closing to be hurtful and cold, it was not.
Because what we had with these believers is hard to explain. It transcends time. It defies odds. Because that is what happens when you allow faith to take its course. It does not have to make sense to anyone but Him. So you hold on to that tiny, sweaty, five year old hand, take a deep breath, and trust.
We are all headed in the same direction, we are just taking different hallways. We are going forth. Ready. Prepared. And as He guides our paths, we need not seek a friend for the end.
Those friends have been there all along.
Christie is the mother of three rambunctious little ones, wife to a pastor/cop, and a writer to anyone who will offer a listening ear. She began her blog, My Walk With Eden in 2008 and spends her days trying to homeschool, paint her nails, and save the world, all before naptime. Christie is also a newspaper columnist at the LaFollette Press, sharing weekly, humorous tales in her column entitled “Letters from the Nest,” and is an Allume blog contributor. She and her family reside in the Appalachian mountains of east Tennessee, where sweet tea is served at every meal and hospitality is second nature.
You can find Christie on Twitter, on Facebook , her blog, and LaFollette Press.
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Now it’s time to share YOUR Take Heart story. Enter your information below to link to your own blog post on how you’ve been encouraged to “Take Heart…in Kinship and Community,” whether it be in the struggle of extended family dysfunction, leaving a church, or working through conflict with a friend. In your post, link back to our page here (you’re welcome to grab the thumbnail graphic to use in your post) and invite others to join in. Then, be sure to visit and comment on the posts that link up before and after yours and encourage each other!