He only smiled and nodded at me and I grinned back at him, knowing full well I was going to be in Austin on February 7 and 8.
When the tickets sold out in 42 minutes flat, I just shrugged my shoulders, and thought to myself, “Well, I’ll fly to Dallas and watch the simulcast with my home church.”
And in the quiet of that morning spent around the table covered with school books and pencils, I heard quite clearly, “You don’t live there anymore. You live in Rocky Mount.”
I remember smiling at the sheer truth of God’s whisper and the audacity of His stirring in my spirit-
For I had only a bag of nothing to offer this place-
And God was asking me to give Him space to make something from nothing.
I should have had an inkling that God was up to something bigger than me when my family room filled with the likes of twenty women, all gathered round Ann’s One Thousand Gifts,
But I didn’t.
In January of last year, I was still reeling with the death of my life’s dream, feeling altogether punished by God for loving His church more than I actually loved Him and I’d been journaling my way through a whole year’s worth of my soul’s junk. We were twelve months into a floundering church plant and one month into losing four families and I was a wreck. I was missing home and missing who I thought I used to be and stumbling over rock after rock, trying to find my footing here in my new-old place. Out of desperation, I sent out a blanket invitation all over Rocky Mount for women to join me in counting One Thousand Gifts. I prayed for a handful while hoping for three.
And then God, who is all merciful and all good and all loving, chose to fill my house with women from all over our city.
I sat before those women and I wept.
I wept for my broken heart and I wept because I knew God loved me enough to ruin me.
For six weeks, we muddled our way through counting gifts and when it was over, I carried on about my life, pining away for things that were no longer mine.
And like some Israelite, I longed to return to the life I knew full well while God stood before me, lighting the way into a place I had no desire to go.
In August of last year, as I geared up to launch a Fall study on Jen Hatmaker’s 7, I found myself unable to sleep. I ceased being able to go through the motions of everyday life, too tired to function or find purpose in this life I’d been given.
And then in September, I fractured my wrist and my whole world stopped.
I tapped out a few lines here at my online address and then logged off. For nearly six weeks, I got really quiet and really still.
And somewhere between September and November, I found myself here,
In Rocky Mount, North Carolina,
And I surrendered my life to Jesus and to this place,
I just didn’t know that when I fully surrendered to this place, that God would ask me to do things that were far beyond my scope of comfort and ability.
I had no idea that He would use my very weakness as the means by which He would glorify Himself.
On Wednesday of last week, I sat at the end of our table and cried rivers of tears as I folded paper into pinwheels. I checked division problems and changed diapers and baked chicken nuggets, and never stopped wiping tears.
I skipped hours of sleep to cut and paste name tags and I wrung my hands instead of praying.
On Friday, I went through the motions of the day before heading out the door to meet my people at our local IF Gathering. I loved on my kids, rolled mascara onto my lashes, wiped crumbs, and gave the Man instructions on how to keep the kids alive while I was away.
At 3:00, I welcomed my people and I smiled at the sight of their faces.
And at 3:04, I wept.
For God is good-
And oh, how He loves me.
I know you guys would love a play by play of our Rocky Mount If:Gathering.
I know you long to know how we pulled it off, how many women showed up, how God made Himself known in my place, but I am so overcome with the work He has done in my life, that I cannot even begin to tell you how He is moving among my people here.
And to be honest, I’d rather not try to tell you.
I’d rather give God so much space to magnify Himself here in Rocky Mount that my words pale in comparison to the sheer glory of His stride across our city.