When God Moves You to a Different Church

Have you ever seen a movie that began by dropping you right into the middle of the action?  Many times, after identifying the main characters and thoroughly thickening the plot, a date flashed across the screen. Suddenly, you were transported to a time before all the chaos began. Seeing how it all started gave you a clearer perspective of why the action unfolded like it did. The flashback gave you a frame of reference on which all else hung.

I began this Finding More series intentionally with what I believe to be the strongest foundation stone there is – the love of God. Internalizing how much we are loved must sink deeply into every fiber of our being before a pursuit of MORE can properly begin. Next, it’s good to know that no matter what we’ve done, we can be forgiven because of the overwhelming grace of Jesus. Yet, it’s friendship with the Holy Spirit that fuels our passion to continually want more and more of God.

With all that in mind, if this blog series was a movie, this would be the date flashing across the screen to help you understand my desire for MORE: 

2008

In 2008, Ron and I were serving in local jail ministries – him with the men and me with the ladies. It soon became obvious that folks without the Spirit living inside them don’t give a hoot about a list of do’s and don’ts. They didn’t care about the Steps to Becoming a Christian, or any kind of method for that matter. Providing pat answers, canned sermonettes, and isolated verses didn’t cause them to want anything we had to offer. 

I became frustrated and consumed with finding just the right message that would encourage them to want to become Christians. The more I studied, the more I learned who the Holy Spirit really is. I got so excited that I couldn’t wait to share what I was learning with the kids in our church family’s Children’s Ministry. The more we talked about the Spirit, the more I felt Him moving through me, helping me lead that ministry.

I didn’t realize it then, but the Holy Spirit had been using every drop of my past experiences to create in me a desire for something better – something more than I could have ever imagined. However, for things to get better they oftentimes have to get worse. 

While learning about the Holy Spirit excited me, it seemed that every new thing I learned strongly opposed my ingrained legalism. I had grown up picturing Jesus as a stern classroom teacher who wagged His finger at me when He said, “If you love me, you will obey my commands” (John 14:15). We all know that breaking the rules makes a teacher extremely unhappy – and who likes the consequences of an unhappy teacher? The harder I tried to reconcile life in the Spirit with following all the rules, the more frustrated I became. 

It took laying aside ALL of my beliefs and deciding to read the entire New Testament through the eyes of an inmate before the Spirit grabbed me around the heart with John 5:39-40, “You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life.”  This was what those inmates needed! They needed to come to Jesus for life – and so did I.

I had known all the go-to verses to share the “Plan of Salvation”, I just didn’t know the Plan Giver. Paul’s words to the Galatians stung my soul: “I only want to learn this from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law or by believing what you heard?  Are you so foolish? After beginning by the Spirit, are you now finishing by the flesh?” (Galatians 3:2-3) I studied, read, and asked a thousand questions. I vetted my every belief and point of theology through the lens blown on and polished by the Holy Spirit. I trusted Him to give me a clear picture of the truth.

After six years of struggling, Ron and I both felt that our 35-year relationship with our church family was taking a turn. We talked with our church leaders about the frustration we felt, assuring them that we didn’t want to cause any kind of division. We decided to move slowly. We lived in a rural area, so our options were open in all directions. We knew that if moving us to another church was in God’s plan, He would simultaneously move both of our hearts to the same church if we patiently trusted Him. After a year of much praying and searching, we knew where we were meant to be. Leaving our church would be hard on many different levels: We still had family members there. Many of our dearest friends were there. Our children had been baptized and married there. Our grandchildren were baptized there. Ron had been a deacon, and I’d led the Children’s Ministry. But in our hearts and souls, we knew God was the One behind the move, and we’d learned the hard way not to argue with God. 

As I look back at our meeting with the preacher to tell him of our final decision, it makes me smile to remember his question. He already knew the answer, but he asked anyway, “You just want more, don’t you?” We did, but we knew we still had miles to go to find it. Then, he asked another kind-hearted question, “What do you want me to tell people when they ask me why you left?” We told him to say that we would always consider them family, but God was moving us.

After putting my past to rest, being reconciled with God, finding the Jesus I had missed, and listening more intently to the Holy Spirit, I now relate to Jesus differently. Instead of seeing Him as the stern teacher with the pointed finger, I see Him as my friend who loves me deeply. Because of His great love, I GLADLY obey His commands just because I love Him. In other words, SINCE I love Him, I WILL obey His commands. They no longer feel like a burden, but a delight. He has filled me with His Spirit so that I can have the love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control I could never enjoy without Him. I stay amazed that He foresaw the coming of 2018 and cared enough to prepare my heart to withstand the many attacks of the enemy. God put a new song in my mouth. Lord, thank you for setting me free. Help me proclaim Your goodness!

If this blog series was a movie, it might end, as most movies do, with all of us sailing lazily into the sunset toward even more of God’s love, Jesus’ grace, and the Holy Spirit’s friendship. However, please know that the waters flowing toward MORE are rarely calm, but they always lead us to the very best places – eventually. 

*******************

Though the journey never ends, next week we will celebrate all we’ve learned together and push away from the Finding More dock. Thank you for being a part of the journey. Until next week … Happy Tuesday! 

Posted in
IMG_1048

Leave a Comment





Unrequited Love

By Donna Jackson | April 20, 2021 |

Whether it’s romance or friendship, nothing stings as sharply, nor as long, as unrequited love. Webster defines unrequited love as “not reciprocated or returned in kind.” In a word, it feels like rejection. Of all the negative human emotions worn by Jesus, rejection could arguably be the one He experienced most often. Pharisees scoffed Him,…

Is There Fire in Your Bones?

By Donna Jackson | April 13, 2021 |

When the Spirit wants to remind you of something, He often causes the oddest verses to jump off the pages of Scripture. I’ve learned the hard way to pay attention whenever the Spirit continually leads me back to the same passage. I know there’s something in those particular words that He either wants to remind…

Dealing With A Slow Someday

By Donna Jackson | April 6, 2021 |

John Fogerty’s song from the 70’s starts out, “First thing I remember was asking Papa, “Why?” For there were many things I didn’t know. And Daddy always smiled, took me by the hand, saying, “Someday, you’ll understand.” Fogerty’s longing for “Someday” continues throughout the song’s verses, but the chorus remains the same:  “Well, I’m here to…

Just for Fun Today

By Donna Jackson | March 30, 2021 |

Three years ago today my mother went to be with Jesus. However, I’m choosing to laugh a little rather than letting myself feel the sting of grief. Goodness knows, Mama and I could get tickled about the smallest things and let out a few snorts while humongous tears rolled down our faces. I’m so glad…

Who Would You Be If You Weren’t You?

By Donna Jackson | March 23, 2021 |

Years ago, our youth minister plastered the youth group’s meeting place with teen photo mashups. Headshots of each member of the group had been cut in horizontal strips so that the eyes, noses/ears, and mouths were separated into three distinct pieces. Then in random order, the pieces were put back together so that each new…

The Best Thing to Teach the Kids in Your Life

By Donna Jackson | March 16, 2021 |

Last Wednesday night, the leaders of our church’s children’s ministry allowed me to present my “Finding More” message. What a blessing these people have been in my life and the lives of our children.  In our “Finding More” blog series here on Perfection Road (https://perfectionroad.com/category/finding-more/), I never revealed the story you are about to hear. Some…

Letting Go of Sameness

By Donna Jackson | March 2, 2021 |

Cooking breakfast used to be so simple. Back when my man went to work at 6:00 in the morning, I could put a full plate on the table with my eyes closed. I would retrieve what I needed from the refrigerator, plop eggs into a skillet, toast the bread, and punch the coffee button. Since…

Significantly Insignificant

By Donna Jackson | February 23, 2021 |

The Samaritan woman didn’t know she was being set up by God. She woke up that morning next to a man she hoped would somehow make her feel significant. The last few years, all she felt was shame for failing at love so many times. That shame led her to the well to draw water in…

Toddler Love

By Donna Jackson | February 16, 2021 |

When an old dog needs to learn new tricks, sometimes it’s the puppies who lead the way.  My Thursdays belong to my 18-month-old granddaughter Callie. She’s at that curious stage when even the smallest crumb left on the kitchen floor either becomes a tasty treat or a play toy. She often imitates barks from her…

The Look of Love

By Donna Jackson | February 9, 2021 |

Valentine’s Day offers the opportunity for tokens of love to slip from even the shyest of hands into the hearts of another. Names on white sacks decorated with swirls of red and pink line classrooms. Hearts dangle from ceilings. It’s understood that best friends always get the best cards, while confirmed and wannabe sweeties often…