During my time in St. Louis this weekend, I was privileged to go to Freedom Church, a church plant of dear friends of my siblings. It is always a joy to worship Jesus and receive the Word with all of my siblings and their families when I come to town. I love that they have all committed to be apart of one body and to do life together in this way. Selfishly, I am slightly jealous that I miss out on this fellowship with them each week.
Anyhow, their church is growing and the leadership decided it was indeed time to delegate some of the responsibility for this hungry flock over to another individual—particularly leadership over the youth. So my brother and his wife were officially introduced before the church body as the new youth leaders for Freedom Church.
Ever since they have come into my life, I have had so much respect for both of my big brothers. I am always in awe of God's faithfulness to redeem the future generations—something I see so tangibly through the way both of my brothers fear the Lord and desire to raise their kiddos to do likewise. They are putting an end to the curse our dad has left us. It is beautiful.
Ryan and Megan in particular were instrumental in my coming to Christ. As a result, talking to them about Jesus has always come naturally, but the past year or two has been really challenging for me as a little sister all the way in Arkansas to really have an intimate relationship with my bro and his wife. We stay in touch—though I am a bit ashamed to confess that if it weren't for Facebook, I would feel much more out of the loop. But we manage. Seasons come and go.
Throughout this season, I have spent much time asking God to move in all of my siblings lives—that we might all know Him more intimately. As a little sister, it is often difficult for me to know how to encourage my older siblings...how to initiate real conversations about the Lord when He is constantly working in all of our lives, though difficult to articulate monthly or every six months when I see them. This sounds odd, but it is something I really battle with. I long to be apart of all the different seasons He takes them through. And I so desperately desire for them to know my seasons—I look forward to a day we can live this out with fewer miles that separate us, but for now the glimpses are sweeter.
This weekend being present for this moment which God has been preparing them for all along was one of the sweetest moments. It made me forget the distance, my inability to communicate the Spirit that lives in me, it allowed me to see Christ's work in their lives over the past year or two—all in this one moment. As a little sister, I have always looked up to Rye. I have always known God set Him apart for a purpose far greater then anything he would ever dream for himself. We have that in common—thinking we could never step into a role for which only God calls and equips—it takes us a bit longer to be convinced, but eventually our desire to obey and glorify breaks through the fear and doubt.
As Ryan stood before this body of believers on Sunday, his faithful helper and prayer warrior standing at his side (joyful tears upon her cheeks of course), and began to share how nervous but excited he and Meg are to be stepping into this role, the tears just began to fall for me as well. My brother has been through so much. God has always been faithful, but in that moment I saw the Spirit speaking through my brother. I saw Jesus radiating from the inner place. I saw joy that is his strength. I saw hours and hours my sister spent on her knees, interceding on behalf of my brother, for Him to be equip to lead their family, interceding for God's plan in their lives—a faithful wife. I saw days and weeks and months of God's relentless pursuit of him and my sister—to challenge them in their faith and call them to trust Him more. I saw life being restored even in those moments—for Him but also for me. I pray that this is exactly what these youth will see as well. My brother's obedience points me to hope even more in Christ. He makes me want to know Him more, to trust Him, to pray boldly and expect Him to answer, according to His will over my own. To see him and Meg step into this new season, this new role refreshes the reality that He does indeed make all things new...that He is doing a new thing, making a way in the wilderness even (Isa. 43:19).
Big Bro, I am so incredibly excited to see how God is going to allow you and Meg to lead these students, and by his grace alone to point them to Him. I am so proud of you brother, and I am here, your biggest cheerleader in the South! Thank you for going first...for bearing some of the weight our dad is too weak to uphold. Thank you for giving me hope that life with Christ shatters the darkness. Thank you for stepping into the newness and liberating me to follow, despite fear and pride.
Sister, this has been a role I have been confident you would be gifted to fill for years now—and am excited to watch Him use you in these young girls' lives. More then anything though, watching you in the dry seasons...hearing you testify to having to trust Him when life made no sense...when He spoke so boldly to you, but you knew you had to be patient. When you wanted to control, but He told you to pray. And you did. Just look at this itty bitty glimpse of His plan that He has revealed—rejoice and get back on your knees and keep praying because this is only the beginning!!!
Oh yeah and to the both of you—you just remember how I always used to tell you that even in my darkest pit that y'all had to help me out of, He was using my mess to prepare you for something far greater...consider that your initiation into life with youth!! I am totally kidding—sort of. God has been preparing you, yes even through all that stuff. It will be messy, but His grace far exceeds the mess. Praise Jesus, this is good news for us all!
"And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God." (1 Corinthians 2:1-5 ESV)
Friends, please pray for this precious family—for protection from attacks of the enemy, for wisdom in counseling youth, for boldness in teaching the Word, for unity as a couple, for enough time in the day to simply be filled with Truth, and so much more as the Spirit leads.
One Proud Sister in the South