The End of an Era

Tuesday, January 29th, I quit my job… absolutely nuts!!!  Here’s the back-story.

Wow, I can’t even believe I’m typing this right now.  I never would have figured that I would have quit the “perfect job.”  But when God calls, you better obey!  And what surrender it is when we just obey! 

So, I guess the story all started a couple months back.  Honestly, this job has been very intensive, just like all the jobs at work right now… we’re all working for the Kingdom and sometimes that can drain you, especially if its not really where God wants you… it’ll drain you quickly!  I had been coming home, at least once a week, in tears, just overwhelmed with everything.  I hadn’t had a vibrant relationship with the Lord in probably 2 years.  (Disclaimer:  this is not at all due to The Chapel, I want to say that right now before anybody thinks I’m blaming this on them!)  What was going wrong is that God was begging me to listen to him and I was putting work before Him; I was the one causing my branches to die… I had cut off all of the supply of His Presence, and I was starting to wither. 

Anyway, back to the story–It had been a long time since I felt God’s touch.  It was driving me nuts because for awhile there I had an incredible time of bearing fruit and watching God move in my life, and now I was unsatisfied with everything:  I really didn’t like my job anymore, when I would hang out with my girlfriends my personality was gone, I wasn’t bearing any fruit what-so-ever, there was almost no life in me anymore.  I feel like Mark said it the best, “you once were so on fire that it just lit everyone else around you and you didn’t care what got in your way, you were just gonna get God.”  That so wasn’t me over these past 2 years.  And I hated it.  But God, oh, but GOD!  He had a new plan for me, even when I wasn’t really seeking him!  He’s so wonderful!

I was having quiet times, for the sake of having quiet times.  God would still impress things on my heart, but it would wear off probably 20 minutes later.  I think over that time he was massaging my heart, preparing me to be soft again.  He’s so gracious!  Probably back on Thursday, the 24th, I was reading about thirst… God just put the word “thirst” in my head, so I looked it up in my concordance and began reading Isaiah 55:

Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat!  Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost.  Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy?  Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and your soul will delight in the richest of fare.  Give ear and come to me; hear me, that your soul may live.  Give ear and come to me; hear me, that your soul may live.  I will make an everlasting covenant with you, my faithful love promised to David.  See, I have made him a witness to the peoples, a leader and commander of the peoples.  Surely you will summon the nations you know not, and nations that do not know you will hasten to you, because of the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, for he has endowed you with splendor. 

I cannot begin to tell you how many different pieces of that spoke to my heart.  Just that God satisfies!  I mean, he really satisfies!  He’s such a provider, and when he makes himself known, he reveals all of himself–he’s wholy ours when we’re wholy his!  I was really challenged with this verse when I read it and I told Brandon that I really wanted to commit these verses to memory.  Well, I didn’t, but God had other plans in mind! 

I took Friday, the 25th, off as a solitude day and just really sought the Lord for guidance.  I didn’t get any answers, but I know that God responds in his timing, not ours.  On Sunday, Brandon and I went to Living Waters, my old Church.  I really believe that God was stirring things up in my heart because I was just so tender on Sunday morning; I haven’t been that way in awhile.  Then Monday came.  The day was good, nothing bad happened, it wasn’t like it was a super-chaotic day, just another unsatisfied day, and I think God did that on purpose, he was preparing me for what he had ahead.  I left work, completely downtrodden.  I was a mess:  I just kept saying “i quit.”  And I don’t even think I meant anything specific, I just was so fed up with my entire life that I just wanted to be done and on to a new phase.  When I got in my car I had Moody Radio on and the man was preaching about the Samaritan woman.  I was listening, but not really absorbing what he was talking about. 

Well, I got to Torch Monday night, again, really not wanting to be anywhere, especially around a whole bunch of happy people.  Brandon came and talked and prayed with me, but he had to go lead worship, so he couldn’t stay.  But again, that was part of God’s plan.  God wanted to draw me back to himself, not be led by anything else.  Anyway, Brandon told me that I had to sit where I was until I heard from God that he wanted me to move.  So I stayed where I was for awhile, then went into one of the classrooms to just cry by myself so no one else would see.  My girlfriend Tammara came in and just held me for awhile and then prayed with me, which was nice, but it still didn’t comfort me the way I needed it.  The musical worship part of the night had already started and I figured I should probably head in.  As I walked in Brandon was playing, “its just you and me here now, only you and me here now.”  I knew that God was speaking to me. 

That night, Mark wasn’t preacing, but Mickey Willits was.  Mickey started talking about “musical worship” verses true worship, and just how the very DNA of our lives revolves around worship… by the way, if anyone ever tells you that they don’t know how to worship, just tell them they’re full of it!  Everything they do is worship, it just depends on who or what its directed to!  ok, I’m getting off track again.  Mickey then opened up the the story of the Samaritan woman, yep, that’s right, I had just heard about her on my way over to Torch.  He talked through the fact that Jesus went up to her and asked her for water, and she proceeded to tell him, “if you only knew who I was, you wouldn’t ask me for water.”  But Jesus, being so full of grace and compassion says, “oh, but I do” and he begins to tell her her story.  Then he says, “if you only knew who I was, you’d be asking me for Living Water.”  At this point, if I were the woman, I would have been ultimately confused, but I don’t think she was.  As a matter of fact, if you read the story, it seems as though she changes the subject altogether from her life to “where is it ok to worship.”  But I think, whether she realized it or not, they were still on the same subject.  See Jesus was talking to her about worship.  He was pointing out to her that her worship had all been directed towards all of the men she’d been with, but what Jesus was craving of her was that he would just take her dependance off of them and place it all at His feet.  All of this was overwhelming me.  If you’re not getting the cooralation here I’ll explain in the next paragraph, cause this one’s getting too long.

I knew that for so long I had been placing my “worship” at my job.  I’d been begging for the “praises of men” and had relied on my job to provide for my family.  But all along God had been just sitting there waiting for me to ask him for living water.  I just wasn’t paying close enough attention to him to really realize who he was and what he was doing.  For awhile, God had been asking me to just rely on him for my every need and I wasn’t listening at all.  So, that night he was just going to tell me what I had to do, not just wait for me to ask, cause I’d been “not listening” for so long! 

Mickey then talked about how worship is very much like water.  We as humans are composed of about 50-60% water and if we lose even 2% of it, we’ve just lost about 30% of our capabilities.  Just like water, if we begin to let our worship levels fade, even just 2%, we’re going to see the results of a drought in our lives.  Can I tell you that I was hit hard with that realization?  I mean it almost knocked me over!  I was probably at only about 2% worship, not the 100% that I should be, and my capacity, to do ANYTHING, was shot!  I was so in the hole that the only way for me to get back out would be for God to drastically change my life.  Mickey ended up closing the message with Isaiah 55… coincidence, I know not!

Mickey was done with his message and the musical worship portion of the night started back up.  I just kind of sat there in a daze because I didn’t know what to do.  I knew that God was calling me to do something, but what that something was, I had absolutely no idea.  But God was going to send a messanger to tell me what that thing was.  Mark came back and talked with me.  He’d actually talked with me months ago about how work was going and had encouraged me that if “in a month, things don’t change in your life, then I want you to quit.”  Well, that conversation was about 3 months ago, and he reminded me of it once again.  He was right, well really God is right, he just used Mark to lay the smack down on me.  I was getting to the point where just “enduring” was what I was supposed to do, instead of actually asking God what he wanted to do.  I guess the best way to describe it is, when you’re in a trial, you know that God is pruning the weeds from your heart, and even though its hard you begin to see fruit from it.  But when you’re not bearing any fruit and you’re not seeing positive change at all, you’re probably not in a trial.  I don’t believe that this was a trial I was supposed to “endure” anymore.  It became clear that this was not a trial, but God was making things rough for me so that I would know that I was outside of his will.  He wasn’t allowing me to bear fruit because he wanted me to recognize that this was not His will for my life. 

So, Tuesday, I came in, talked with Brent, and then started typing my resignation letter.  Oh, to back up… after I had decided to quit there was a huge weight lifted off of my shoulders.  I don’t think I’ve worshiped with abandon like that in quite some time.  I felt free!  Absolutely free to be myself, to love others, to talk about the Lord, to realize all that he had been putting in front of me, and how beautifully he orchastrated everything to show me he loves me and really does have a plan for my life.  I got to the staff meeting that we have every week at the Libertyville campus and Scott was talking about risk.  He asked us what risks are God asking us to take, and what things are holding us back from taking them.  It was an incredible confirmation to me that God had been asking me to take this huge risk and to ignor all of the things in the way of me taking those risks and just rely on him.  It was awesome! 

Honestly, I have absolutely no idea what I’m going to do.  I haven’t really even begun to look for other jobs.  I applied to Caribou just to get some income, but really have no other ideas of what to look for.  But you know what I know?  I know that God is faithful, and I can’t help but feeling like he’s got something really amazing right around the corner that I just going to wow Brandon and I into Kingdom come!  I know that this next season is not going to be an easy one, by any stretch, but what I do know is this:  trials produce endurance and they allow God to prune away the dead branches so that the good ones can continue to grow and flurish.  I’m so excited to see what He does!

Would you please be praying for me?  I know that there are so many opportunities around the corner, but we both want nothing less than God’s will for our lives.  We want to follow him with abandon, so please pray that we keep our eyes open for a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night?  Pray that we continue to die to ourselves and our agendas so that we make His known?

Thanks for reading!

This is my prayer for my life and for yours:

1 How lovely is your dwelling place,

       O LORD Almighty!

 2 My soul yearns, even faints,

       for the courts of the LORD;

       my heart and my flesh cry out

       for the living God.

 3 Even the sparrow has found a home,

       and the swallow a nest for herself,

       where she may have her young—

       a place near your altar,

       O LORD Almighty, my King and my God.  

 4 Blessed are those who dwell in your house;

       they are ever praising you.

       Selah  

 5 Blessed are those whose strength is in you,

       who have set their hearts on pilgrimage.  

 6 As they pass through the Valley of Baca,

       they make it a place of springs;

       the autumn rains also cover it with pools.   

 7 They go from strength to strength,

       till each appears before God in Zion.  

 8 Hear my prayer, O LORD God Almighty;

       listen to me, O God of Jacob.

       Selah  

 9 Look upon our shield, O God;

       look with favor on your anointed one.  

 10 Better is one day in your courts

       than a thousand elsewhere;

       I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God

       than dwell in the tents of the wicked.  

 11 For the LORD God is a sun and shield;

       the LORD bestows favor and honor;

       no good thing does he withhold

       from those whose walk is blameless.  

 12 O LORD Almighty,

       blessed is the man who trusts in you.

 

2 thoughts on “The End of an Era

  1. bethany_lehman says:

    i love youso much. this really spoke to me, erika. thank you for obeying. God used you by His grace all summer to be tehre for tamm and i…just imagine what he is going to do through you now! this is an anointed piece. i got all teary eyed when i got to thispart:
    ” But you know what I know?  I know that God is faithful, and I can’t help but feeling like he’s got something really amazing right around the corner that I just going to wow Brandon and I into Kingdom come!  I know that this next season is not going to be an easy one, by any stretch, but what I do know is this:  trials produce endurance and they allow God to prune away the dead branches so that the good ones can continue to grow and flurish.  I’m so excited to see what He does!”
    wow. that’s where i am at…right there with you, my sister and dear friend! i am buffeting you in prayer and i am so proud of you…
    i know i’ve already texted you, emailed you and now this, but i wont stop rejoicing over the work God is doing and is about to do in and through you for a long time to come:) youmake me smile from the inside out.
    i love you.

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