We said what God was waiting for us to say.
We raise the white flag.
We get it.
We see it.
We’re with you.
And, in the words of good ol’ Johnny, we’re going to Jackson.
Somewhere in those pressure-packed and snowy January days, God turned out hearts. He changed our hearts. And not just our hearts. He changed our minds too. In one month’s time, we went from not even remotely thinking this would ever be in our future to being so excited about kingdom work at Englewood Baptist Church in Jackson, TN that we might not be able to breathe until we get there.
A few things had to happen first, though.
We decided that we needed to just sneak into a service one Sunday and check it out. And I don’t mean check the church out in the sense of ‘does it meet our approval.’ I mean check it out in the sense of – see what happens in our spirits as we worship inside those walls, with those people, and take in the teaching of the Word of God with them. So we did. On January 17.
As we walked in during the first song, I thought of one of Jesus’ most famous phrases: It is finished.
It was done. God was not subtle in our hearts on that day. We knew this was the place for us. It was all I could do to hold it together that Sunday. I just kept telling myself, “Keep looking at the screens. Don’t look around. If you do, you will fall apart. Just stare at the screens. Must. Look. At. Screens. Only. Screens.”
It was a futile attempt. The release we felt on that morning was too much. And staring at the screens or not, I was a heap of emotion. It was awesome.
To add blessing upon blessing, our kids had such a great morning. We had to drag them out of their Sunday School classes. “Can we move here?” they shouted in the halls. “Um, let’s take that volume down please,” I said as I covered their Dr. Pepper-moustached mouths. “And we’ll take this conversation to the car.” The joy was too much.
Another thing that had to happen is that we had to wait to give Ben our answer. Through the counsel we received, God had given us a certain date to wait for before we gave them an answer or made this story public. So that date was February 3. But here we were on January 17, and we already felt as though we had our answer. Abraham immediately came to mind. Was God going to put an 11th hour ram in the thicket before we walk this offering through? Was He holding that date for us to give us time to see yet another bend in the road? Was I going to wake up on February 2nd and be done with this whole journey? Or worse, was Englewood going to wake up and be done with this journey?
In my heart, I knew that wasn’t going to happen. But because He gave us that date, we waited. And I’m so glad we did. Because in the 11th hour (the morning of February 2nd), He DID give us a word. It was a good word that was the final mark and final churn to complete our heart turn to this change. Not a word to share with anybody; a Word just for us. And it went deep into our souls. It was a work that neither Angela nor I even knew we needed. But once we got it, we were more fully at peace than ever before on this journey.
So at 12:01am on February 3rd, Pastor Ben got a call. From me.
“Hey,” he said.
And I replied, “No ram in the thicket.”
Still, there was one last piece to the puzzle.