It’s a common myth that we have it all together. That just because we know the words to the worship songs, and have our names on a reserved sticker, we are living the #BlessedLife. Sometimes though, it’s just not true.
I mean, let’s be real. We all have days where we really need Jesus to hold us back, because we just might cut someone, get arrested, and go to jail. And then suddenly feel a call to start a prison ministry. No? Just me? Awesome.
Seriously though, we all have moments where it feels like God is busy with someone else, when our thoughts are taken up with more “what if’s” than “but God said’s.”
So what do we do when our heart is just as broken, our storm is just as scary, and our situation is just as messy as the person standing in front of us asking for prayer?
Because that’s a very real place to be in, trust me.
I am a church kid. Like, I’m a serious church kid. I could sing you through Hillsong’s worship albums (circa Darlene Zschech 1993) before I could tell you who Justin Timberlake was and why he was bringing sexy back. As I grew up though I learned quickly, and found myself dealing with the same things any other teenager did, church kid or not.
I didn’t know church kids were allowed to have issues, I thought they could only have prayer requests.
I thought that if I was honest about feeling lonely, about hiding the real me, and about wanting to kiss all the boys, I’d be shunned. I wish I knew then that life’s issues do not discriminate between church people and non-church people. We all have them. And I thank God for the people that saw me, saw through my façade, and held my hand in my failures.
Two years ago I moved from my home in Sydney to be at Oasis Church in Los Angeles. I guess I’m kind of a grown up now, emphasis on the kind of. I’m a young adult pastoring other young adults through the very things I’m navigating. A lot has changed since my days reciting the fruits of the spirit and drinking Kool-Aid in kid’s church. But you know what hasn’t changed? My issues. His grace.
I may be a pastor, but I’ve had Sundays where I felt like a hypocrite, praying for people while silently screaming at a God that felt hidden. I’ve had weekends where I was at church less because I was passionate, and more because I was paid. Sorry, too honest? Whatever, I’m a non-filtered Australian.
And yet, in those times of praying through my pain, He saw.
Every time I opened my hands when I wanted to keep them closed, He saw.
Every time tears rolled down my cheeks during a song about joy, He saw.
Every time someone I prayed for and invested in walked away from church, He saw.
Every time I felt the sting of loneliness in a crowded room, He saw. He. Always. Saw.
And looking back on those times, the kindness of God was so evident. He drew so close to my hurting heart, and He pulled others close too. I’ve spent countless nights on my friend, Pastor Holly’s couch, ordering some weird organic vegan food, talking about Jesus, or just my obsession with reality television. Sometimes it’s in the toughest seasons that Jesus gives us the strongest friendships, He will always give us someone who will remind us of our song when we have forgotten the lyrics.
And as I remained real and resilient, I discovered something else. My questions have never taken Him by surprise. My broken heart has never been too broken for Him. My failures have never disqualified me. Even my most quiet prayer has never gone unheard. And guess what, neither have yours.
We all go through times where the light feels a little dimmer, the tide a little lower, and the momentum a little slower. But it’s just a season. The light will shine, the tide will rise, and the momentum will pick up. And yet through it all, His call remains the same.
After all, our destiny is not dependent upon our emotional deficiency, but upon His divine direction for our lives.
I don’t know a lot, truly, I’m still in my twenties trying to figure out ministry, life, boys, and Jesus. But I’m learning this-- The Bible doesn’t say a lot about our calling being comfortable. Trust me, I checked, a few times. But it definitely says that those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed (Proverbs 11:25). So we can be confident that as we minister to others, He ministers to us, and that as we build His house, He will build ours.
And remember, He started this whole thing, so He’s going to make sure it ends really well.
Galatians 6:9-10 (Amplified)
Let us not grow weary or become discouraged in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap, if we do not give in. So then, while we [as individual believers] have the opportunity, let us do good to all people [not only being helpful, but also doing that which promotes their spiritual well-being], and especially [be a blessing] to those of the household of faith (born-again believers).
Elyse Murphy is a writer, pastor, and international speaker. Her experiences of life as a pastor’s kid have led Elyse to write her first book “Confessions of a Church Kid.” Elyse now resides in Los Angeles, working with young adults and ministering as one of the pastors at Oasis Church in Downtown Hollywood. Connect with Elyse on her blog.