Have you ever felt like you’ve failed at something? Yeah, I think we all have felt that way at some point in our lives. Some of us have felt like that multiple times in our lives. Because of my relationship with God, I tend to believe that all things happen for a reason, even if I don’t know what that reasoning may be.
I’m going to flashback now to around about 1998. Failure came BOLDLY to me when I found myself alone and going through divorce. We hadn’t made it to our 4 year anniversary when he left. I was ashamed. I didn’t want to let anyone know, yet everyone was bound to know at some point, right? Divorce is not something I would wish on my worst enemy. It was definitely one of the hardest and darkest times in my life. I felt “failure” at the top level.
I had no appetite and forced myself to at least eat some Ritz crackers. I lost weight. I had even got concerned about my own weight loss as I was down to almost BELOW what I had weighed when graduating high school! Looking back, I’m thankful for friends who insisted I go to lunch with them. I truly believe it was their way of making sure I ate something.
I had stopped attending church as my then husband wasn’t satisfied with the church we were married in, but he also didn’t go with me to find another “home” church. So when he left and we later divorced, I had no desire to go back to that church and finally started going to another church closer to home.
However… God had a plan!
I remember it vividly. I was driving home from work one day when God pressed on me that I MUST GO BACK to the church I was married in. “But God, I can’t!” I protested. “Everyone will ask ‘Where is HE at?’ And I’ll have to tell them we divorced. Lord, I can’t do that!” But He pressed on me harder that I needed to obey Him. So, after a back and forth I finally said, “Okay God, if that’s what you want me to do, I’ll go.”
The following Sunday, I reluctantly got up and went back to the church I was married in, faced the pastor who married us, and the longtime members who were still there, and guess what they asked? They all asked where my husband was, the very question I SO did NOT want to have to answer and yet, here we are, so I had to tell them we had divorced. I can’t remember today anyone’s reactions to my answers, but I’m sure there were many “I’m sorry to hear that” comments.
The point is, that I obeyed the instruction I had been given by the Holy Spirit completely feeling like a failure and not having any clue as to WHY God sent me back.
Tonight, as I had a meeting with a ministry team, I began to think back to that day and as I’ve said before “connect the dots” God has laid out.
Growing Our Christian Family
Because I obeyed to return to that church, I invited my long-time childhood friend, Donna, to go with me (you know how it is, you never like sitting by yourself at church, right?). It wasn’t like I didn’t KNOW people there, as I said there were longtime members still attending who remembered me and my first husband. And I guess, looking back, I probably felt that maybe some of the members were judging me being that I had a failed marriage. Maybe they were, but maybe they weren’t and I just imposed that view on myself due to the feeling of failure?
So I invited my friend to go to church with me and she really enjoyed it. Could it have been God’s plan to increase His kingdom by sending me back to invite my friend? Who later invited her mom… who later invited others to the point that we were beginning to fill up a pew and a half on Sunday mornings. 🙂 Could have been part of His plan.
As summer drew near, I asked her if she’d like to go on a trip with me to Pennsylvania. There was a Christian music festival there that I hadn’t been to since 1991 and I had long wanted to go back. She agreed and hence began our yearly trek to Creation Festival! Could it have been His plan to share with her the awesomeness of the festival, the community, the music and how you could literally FEEL the Holy Presence of God there? It could have been.
Starting a Worship Band
I’m the world’s worst with dates. But during this time era, my friend Donna lost her brother in a car accident. He was only slightly younger than she was. As our pastor was at the funeral, he looked around at all the faces. I remember when he and I talked about it, he mentioned he had never seen such lost-ness in the eyes of those by the graveside. My pastor approached me after this loss and mentioned that he would like to see a contemporary worship service to begin for the community. A service with more contemporary music that might reach out to those our age that were at that funeral and invite them in. Knowing I liked to sing, he asked if I’d be interested and I said, “Yes!” He envisioned having churches come together to support this event and reached out to other churches in our area for other singers and musicians, and we formed a Worship group with people from various churches and began to hold a monthly service. Could it have been God’s plan for me to be part of that contemporary worship service all along? It could have been.
Donna loved the contemporary worship and we often invited local bands to perform as well as had a speaker to share the Word. And as we made new friendships with the members of the worship band, Donna and I invited them to go to Creation Festival with us one year, and some of them did! Could it have been God’s plan to introduce more people to Creation Festival? It could have been.
Developments Over Time
We continued to try to do the contemporary services and invite the community, but it was hard. This was before all the social media that we have today. We are talking, boots on the ground, walking around and asking businesses to put up your flyer. It was hard work, but we felt it was the Lord’s work. Our services continued to dwindle in numbers until we finally decided to stop having them as we weren’t reaching who we had hoped to reach. Did we fail?
During that time of contemporary worship services, two important relationships bloomed. I had asked a friend to play guitar in the band and as we spent more time together, we began dating and he is now my husband. ❤️ And another couple that was introduced to each other via the band began dating and later married: Mandie and Travis Bishop. Could it have been God’s plan for the contemporary service to bring these relationships together? It could have been.
Fast Forward A Few Years
Some might look back to that contemporary service and again think, “Failure”. We couldn’t get the word out to bring in many from the community to have a large service each month. However, is it REALLY about the numbers? I remember talking to one of the bands we had invited to play and apologizing for not having more people to turn out. He looked at me and said, “It doesn’t matter. If we can introduce one person to God, it’s worth it.”
And then at some point around 2013-2014, God started talking to a former member of that worship band. Remember the couple that started dating and later married, Travis and Mandie? Well, God began laying it on Travis’ heart to start a music festival. He approached his wife about the idea and her first thought was, “You’re crazy!” But over time, God laid it on her heart as well. Travis has said that God told him he needed to “Build the stage.” One Sunday after church, I ran into the two at O’Charley’s restaurant and Travis approached me with the idea and helping to market such an event. I immediately made the connection to Creation Festival and got on board with it. I had seen the impact that Creation Festival had had on many and loved the idea of creating something similar here in our own community. And in 2015, the group launched the first Replenish Festival. Could it have been God’s plan to introduce us all those years ago for this particular event? It could have been.
Replenish Festival just wrapped up their SIXTH festival. Tonight our team had a meeting to review how the festival went, things that went well and things that need to be improved. If you’ve ever worked in ministry and serving the Lord, you know it’s not always easy. God never promised it would be. It can at times be frustrating. Sometimes multiple ministries may be asking for your attention. But serving in ministry can also be a huge blessing. This past year, we saw people come to the festival that had never been before and they seemed to have seeds planted within them from the speakers, the music and the loving community that surrounds Replenish. As we talked and reviewed tonight, we also reminisced. And I thought all the way back to that day when God called me to be obedient and return to a church I had not wanted to. But when I look back, I can see God’s handiwork, I see Him laying out every stepping stone even at a point in life when I felt like the biggest failure. I am thankful that I obeyed God. I’m thankful to be a small piece in the mosaic that God continues to put together everyday. Could it have been God’s plan to call me out all those years ago, so that I could be part of Replenish Festival now? It could have been.
So often one can wonder, what is God’s plan? Why has He not revealed it to me yet? But God has His own timing and His timing is perfect. So even when we feel like a failure, even when we can’t see what He’s doing, He Has A Plan! Sometimes He may allow us to become broken, so that we can be drawn closer to Him. Sometimes He allows us to go through the “not fun stuff” so that we can learn and grow in our faith.
So if you are struggling today and you are feeling failure, please know that God has a plan for you! It IS God’s plan to bring you closer to Him, for you to accept His love and to be part of His kingdom.