My desk is a mess.
That sentence is almost always true, but today it is especially so. Right now I can see several books I’ve been trying to read during my (hopefully) short time of not taking any classes. There is a stack of stuff that Rachel asked me to take care of (it’s actually a very small stack – she really spoils me). There are a couple to-do lists with the most random assortment of chores - including making a list of the book titles on my bookshelves…seems strange, I know. I’ve got a box that I need to take to Tod next week (when I’m at Lectureship in Abilene), several coffee cups and assorted papers from different projects. Then there are two stacks of study materials; one from this past week’s sermon here at Tammany Oaks and another for my upcoming sermon at Christ Journey this Sunday.
The desk is quite representative of my life right now. There is a lot going on in the Wells household. As most of you know, 5 months ago we announced our decision to enter the domestic mission field and partner with others in the ministry of planting new churches.
We are joining Christ Journey – a 3 year old church plant in Burleson, TX preparing to plant its first church. If you know that much, you undoubtedly know that we need to raise 100% of our support initially. This has been a challenge for me; fundraising is not something in which I’ve ever felt particularly gifted. Currently we’ve raised a little over a third of our total monthly goal. However because of the generous support we’ve already received through special gifts and monthly checks, we have raised enough to cover 3-4 months.
So we’re moving.
This Sunday I’ll be preaching at Christ Journey (hence the study materials) as I’m on my way to Lectureship, where hopefully we’ll be able to talk to more people about partnering with us financially. After that we’ll have two more Sundays here and then we’ll be Uhaulin’ it west. That explains the need to put together a list of books on my shelf…I’m not going to have an office at first so I need to know what books are in what box!
Tammany Oaks will always hold a special place in my heart. As I told the congregation yesterday, this place has ruined me for many ministries…and strangely enough, that’s a good thing! Over the last two and a half years we have experienced things that I could never have anticipated. We have truly learned how to pray, hurt, weep, rejoice and walk with people. We’ve been given the opportunity to experience very real moments of ministry – walking alongside an entire family as they moved from bitterness and distrust toward Christians (and complete disinterest in church) to being excited and growing members of Tammany Oaks; helping a 58 year-old Vietnam Vet, recent widower and single father of an 18 month old as he simultaneously battled past demons, began to hear the stories of the Bible for the first time (with a youthful excitement that was quite contagious) and fought for custody of his child; spent countless hours with folks at the end of their rope in their marriages, with their emotions (depression, anxiety, hopelessness, despair), with serious mental and physical health issues, drug addictions, financial crises, unemployment…just to name a few.
Make no mistake, it has been exhausting and at times I wasn’t sure we’d make it through. There were days and weeks (even months) when just getting out of bed each morning was painful and difficult. But as I mentioned in a previous post, periods of wandering in the desert can, overtime, reveal great things – both in oneself and in the landscape;
The initial exposure reveals a harsh, barren desolation. But over time one realizes there is tenderness beneath that harsh exterior and what was first seen as barren and desolate is eventually cherished as beautiful. It is beautiful because of what it reveals. It is valuable because of what it forges. The bitter shrubs of the desert become sweet and fragrant flowers. But not quickly, not for a while.
We experienced times of desert wandering, but that isn’t to say that everything here is desolate or barren. We’ve developed wonderful friendships and experienced tremendous compassion and generosity here. While we are very excited to pursue this next stage in our journey; to participate with God in bringing life and light to areas of darkness and despair; excited to return to the land of our forefathers, to the land of Mexican food and grandparents, we are also a little sad. We will miss our unbelievably crazy small group – where the small children outnumber the adults nearly 2 to 1. We will miss this church and our family here at Tammany Oaks.
And we’re a little scared too. Like I said, we are FAR from through in our fundraising. We’re praying that a church or two will decide to support us (there are a few that are currently considering it). One reason for moving now is that we believe it will be easier to cast vision and invite folks to partner with us if we can meet with them face to face…rather than over the phone from another state! I am confident that God will provide and I believe we’ve done our homework and are making the right decision…but still 35% is considerably less than 100%!
So my desk, my schedule and my life are all pretty messy right now. But if I’m totally honest, I don’t really like a clean desk…