This week, I had the bittersweet challenge of sharing with the staff and leadership of my church that I would be stepping down from the staff. I’m not leaving the church, just stepping down from working there. Though it was a decision I prayed through (and avoided) for a long time, I have felt for a while that I needed to focus my attention and time on my son. Sharing this news was bitter because I love my job and coworkers. I am blessed to have such a position and I honestly would rather do anything than step down. It was also sweet because I finally took the step of faith to which God has been calling me. The peace and clarity that have evaded me for weeks finally returned to my life. I knew to the core of my being it was the right thing for me to do in this season.
Several people have said to me in response, “You won’t regret it. You’ll be happy that you stayed home with your son.” On the one hand, I am sure when I’m a wizened old lady I’ll look back and remember this time with nothing but fondness, thankful for this calling. I’m sure there will be countless blessings that I can’t possibly foresee right now along the way.
On the other hand, I am also sure I will regret it at times. There will be moments (sometimes long ones) where I will miss the stimulating challenges and conversations with other adults work affords. I will wish I were anywhere but home on long days when my son takes his tired frustration out on me. I will wonder whether I was really hearing from God as I worry through bills and pray for provision.
I say all this in advance because even when I’m sure this is where God called me to go, I will doubt and regret as I walk this path. People make fun of Israel for wanting to go back to Egypt as they grew tired and restless from wandering in the wilderness. It’s easy to think they were foolish from the outside looking in, but very different when walking in their shoes. I imagine most people would choose predictable bondage over walking by faith.
Following Jesus isn’t easy and has a high cost. Right now, it costs the ministry I love and the security I have been clinging to. It will hurt to walk by faith and trust that God hasn’t forgotten me. I’m saying this out loud on the front end, so that I expect it when discouragement comes my way. I’m also giving myself permission to admit it when I find myself overwhelmed with disillusionment, so that my temporary mood does not become permanent as I bury it deeper in hopes of making it go away.
Instead, on those days I will remind myself of Paul’s words in Philippians 3:
12-14 I’m not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made. But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me. Friends, don’t get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I’ve got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward—to Jesus. I’m off and running, and I’m not turning back.
15-16 So let’s keep focused on that goal, those of us who want everything God has for us. If any of you have something else in mind, something less than total commitment, God will clear your blurred vision—you’ll see it yet! Now that we’re on the right track, let’s stay on it.
I will also add, “Self, press on. This isn’t the end. Jesus laid hold of you for his glory and purposes. Even if you lose sight of those things, don’t lose sight of him. He’s got you. Don’t worry about the path. Follow him.”