There Goes The Neighborhood

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The last two days I have spent some serious time reflecting on oceans of issues and situations that currently surround my family and myself. We are praying for guidance and comfort in this season of life. Because honestly I am totally lost on several issues that I do not know how to even approach much less handle. Yesterday was one of those days that made me question everything. Made me question why I stay in a place that makes me feel like an outsider. Made me question if trying to be the light and love of the Gospel in a place like Walker County is even possible. If I am being honest part of me wishes it was not possible. Then I would have an excuse to leave and shake the dust from my feet, but for some reason I still know we still have seeds to plant here.

Today I find solace in the story, in the book of Acts, where Paul finds himself in Philippi. I relate so much to Paul in the days before and after his arrival. He missed God several times. Having made effort to go and preach in several places but was always prevented. Doors just kept closing in his face. The scriptures say that they were prevented by “The Spirit of Jesus”. Finally after bouncing all over the place he stops in Troas where he receives a vision to go to Macedonia as well as where his group picks up Luke(the author of Acts). So they set sail and make a B-line for Philippi!

Long story short, they get to Philippi and it is not what I am sure they were expecting. There was not a Jewish synagogue which means there were less than ten Jewish men in the whole colony. The man he saw in the vision was no where to be found and the people of Philippi were less than hospitable. He meets an lucrative business woman, delivers a demonized girl, outrages the community, gets throne in jail, prevents a centurion from committing suicide, and sneaks out of said jail. None of that was in the vision! I can not imagine how he felt after so many doors closing in his face and only to get to Philippi and it being one huge crap-storm of crazy.

I’m learning that sometimes the fulfillment of our dreams look nothing like the way we thought they would. And more so how we think they should look. That is how Jesus works though! He shows up on the scene and we are forced to throw out everything we think we know! Sure enough as soon as we get our little boxes built around Him he so lovingly tears them to pieces! That is his offer to us!

“Turn away from everything you think you know and trust me!”

That is the very message that Paul preached to these families! That is the message that turned their lives upside down! When Jesus comes into the neighborhood everything changes!
Despite adversary Paul was obedient, saw a handful of lives changed, and then left! He left the hope of Philippi in the hands of a lucrative business woman, a previously demon possessed teenager, and a suicidal centurion! And from the way Paul spoke of them in his epistle nearly ten years later we can see that they got it! The seeds that were planted stuck and not only stuck but flourished into a beautiful thriving community of believers! They learned to abandon their misconceptions, worries, and stress and start trusting in Jesus!

In the middle of my frustration, hurt, and questions I so plainly hear ” Trust me!”. More and more every day I am learning to do just that! we do not have to have all the details, we just have to trust that He knows what He is doing! I hope you find some comfort in my words today! Just know He holds you! Where ever you find yourself just remember to put your trust in Him! When everything goes to crap and nothing feels right, just trust Him!

Through whom, to whom, and for whom all things exist!
-Ryan

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