December 4, 2012

Living In a Prayer

Have you ever lived within an answer to prayer, talking and walking and being with it, experiencing it everywhere you turn?

I have.

In fact, I am currently living among an answer to prayer.
Because five years ago, Kyle and I sat in a coffee shop, fear and doubt falling between us, having the conversation of our lives: was God really calling us to church plant? And were we sure it was to be in Charlottesville? We had already been to the city and seen it with our eyes, traipsing around the University of Virginia with our two-month-old in a stroller. We had already talked with the pastor at our church, Kyle's boss, and received his backing and blessing. We had already told family and friends we were going. But there in that coffee shop, the reality of what we were planning weighed heavy on us.

We talked long that night, walking through concerns and fears together. Finally, with that unique mix of trepidation and excitement, we committed ourselves to the Lord, praying that He would use us and asking for His help in our unbelief.

In those months of preparation, I have never prayed so much in my life. There were visionary prayers: Lord, give us a picture of the church you want to build in Charlottesville. There were practical prayers: Lord, please help our house to sell. Help us to raise our support. There were concerned prayers: Lord, our children.

When we arrived in Charlottesville, we had no idea what to do first. We knew no one. We didn't know the city or the culture. I drove through UVA's Grounds and prayed that we would somehow make inroads with the students. I interacted with teachers at my son's school and prayed for connections. And I went to playgrounds with my children, striking up conversations with other moms, all the while praying for relationships to form and for opportunities to share the gospel.

Doesn't prayer give you eyes to see where God is at work and ears to hear the needs of people? 

On one of our first days of dreary winter in the city, my husband and I, down and discouraged, went to an indoor playground with our children. On a bench nearby, a man sat watching his children. We talked with him, carrying on long enough to meet his wife when she returned from shopping. Soon after, they left, probably weirded out by my husband's invitation to get together for coffee or dinner.

And then, can I tell you? Kyle ran into the man probably ten times over the next few months. Every time, Kyle talked with him and every time Kyle invited him to get together.

But nothing came of it, nothing at all. They never responded. And they certainly never came to our church, not with such a weirdo pastor who overwhelms you with invitations to coffee.

And then, can I tell you? A family moved in across from them, a family looking for a church. For some reason, the man from the playground recommended ours. The family came to our church and became instantly connected, and, at the same time, the family became friends with the man and his wife from the playground. The family eventually moved, but not before connecting us with the man and his wife from the playground.

And then, can I tell you? Four years after the first conversation, we have become friends with the man and his wife from the playground. Just recently, we sat down to dinner at their house, our kids running wild through the house, and I had a moment. I sat back in my chair and, as if outside my body, I saw what was happening.

I was living in an answer to prayer.

And isn't living in an answer to prayer living in God's faithfulness?

And can I tell you? This is just one example I'm giving you, just one. I could tell you about my son's teacher or about my friend's marriage or about people getting saved. And about all those prayers in the coffee shop five years ago that have been answered better than I could have imagined.

This is what I love about church planting and about taking leaps of faith. There are times of great fear and discouragement and wanting to give up, yes, but there are those moments when you are overwhelmed with the unexplainable faithfulness of a God who can take broken people and hopeless situations and grow something out of that nothing.

And isn't this living by faith?