By: Laura Callarman
Just under a year ago, an opportunity arose for my husband Rosten and I to attend a house church conference. It was at no charge, I might add, because some already paid for spaces opened up at the last minute. So we went. But I in particular went only begrudgingly. You see, I was burnt out on ministry. Skeptical. Cynical. And oh so weary. Not at all in a good place spiritually. I’ll confess: my main motivation for going was a free trip to the mountains of Colorado to relax and escape the heat of the summer.
Not exactly a promising beginning.
As I entered into a weekend’s worth of putting up with a conference in order to take advantage of the scenery, I would never have envisioned what would happen over the course of those four days—and the many days that have followed.
You see, God showed up and changed our lives. (It’s probably more accurate to say that we finally showed up to God so that God could change our lives.) And the good work that God began in us that one weekend last summer has continued on, day by day, bringing us to some amazing places.
As I entered into that weekend, I would never have envisioned Rosten quitting his full time job as a result of what God was drawing us into. I would never have envisioned living for nearly a year on the minimal income that substitute teaching and a few other odd jobs could provide so that we could have the freedom to go where God called us, whenever God called us. I never would have envisioned us using that freedom to live in a small town in the rural Midwest for a summer. I never would have envisioned being encouraged and even commissioned by our community of believers at home to leave home—to leave them in the midst of some exciting times and some difficult times—so that we could pour ourselves into work half a continent away. And given some of the emotional baggage I’ve carried over the years, I certainly would never have envisioned myself working eagerly with leaders and members of a traditional church, much less a Church of Christ, to pursue Kingdom growth in their midst.
Yet here we are, in Sullivan, Indiana, all of those things having come to pass so that now we find ourselves concluding nine very formative weeks’ worth of time using our own gifts as we walk alongside the amazing body of believers at Westside Church of Christ. The Spirit has done some astounding things in our lives and theirs.
And all I have to say is this: God is good, and it was worth it.
It was worth submitting myself to the possibility that God might have something more in store for me in Colorado than I’d anticipated. It was worth the many times of prayer and conversation Rosten and I shared as we tried to decipher what God desired for us. It was worth every phone call we had to make to our sometimes bewildered parents to tell them about the next step of faith we were taking. It was worth the months of very frugal living and the way we had to humble ourselves with every seemingly meaningless job we had to take, draining as they were. It was worth submitting ourselves again and again to the process of discerning wisdom and God’s calling with our own faith community. It was worth the many challenges of life away from home for two months. It was worth every fear, doubt, and argument, though I’d venture to say there could’ve been far fewer of those if we’d consistently chosen faith and love rather than control and fear.
It was worth it despite these difficulties, for God has again and again shown compassion and kindness to us as we’ve been amply provided for, surrounded countless times by supportive and loving Christian community, and drawn further into Kingdom work that fits who we are. But it was also worth it because of these difficulties, for through them we came to see the reality of ourselves much more clearly and came to know our loving and gracious God so much better.
My testimony, then is this: when, despite seeming impediments and challenges, we have taken the risk of trusting God and going where God leads us, we’ve been blessed by the ways God uses us, grows us, and transforms us—sometimes through pleasure and sometimes through pain. It has all been worth it. And though I can safely say that I have no clue what the upcoming year will hold, I trust that my life and future are safe in the hands of the God who wisely knew I needed so much more than just a relaxing weekend in the mountains.