Three years in … what am I learning

By Brandi Parrish

We just celebrated our third birthday as a church!

At the beginning of this call on our lives, there was so much excitement and energy! We believed God for big things. We anticipated seeing Him and experiencing Him in remarkable ways … and we have.

We have seen salvation, restoration, marriages healed, and community groups formed. We have seen great camps and hosted mission teams, and its been wonderfully exhausting and exhilarating all at the same time. But some of the biggest things God has done since we stepped into obedience and planted a church have happened deep inside my own heart and in our family.

Had I known the journey would be some of the darkest days of our lives, I would have stayed home. Our life before church planting was wonderfully easy. We served at our big church in the South and had all the luxuries life could afford.

If someone had sat me down and said, “Brandi, church planting is a declaration of war. People are not going to like you — especially the enemy. You are going to get hurt. You will fight for joy. You will lose your identity. You will feel as though your entire world is falling apart. You will be tired a lot of the time of the time. You will likely struggle financially. Your husband will battle to balance you and the church. Your children will be bullied. They will struggle with depression. They will be angry with you for leaving your happy life behind. It will flat out be the hardest thing you have every done, so go and do it because God told you to!” … I am certain I would have told them they were crazy.

I was sure that following Jesus and planting a church would be beautiful. I may have said I knew it might be difficult at times, but I definitely did not believe it deep down. Until it came true. All of it … and more.

Over the past seven months, I have found myself at a crossroads of deciding if Jesus is worth all of this. I have wanted to shout from the mountain tops, “Somebody tell me I am not alone in this! Please tell me I am not the only one who asked her husband to quit. Surely I am not the only one has felt like I have no idea who I am and where in the world my joy went! Has anyone else lost their confidence and traded it for fear?”

Can I get an amen from another sister who just wants to stop pleasing people and just please Jesus again? The struggle has been so deep and so real …. But God.

“If the Lord had not been my help, my soul would soon have lived in the land of silence. When the cares of my heart are many, your consolations cheer my soul.” (Ps. 94:17,19)

You see, all of those hard things will happen (if they haven’t already). When they came at me, all I could see was the hurt, the struggle, the fight. Somewhere along the way, the devil convinced me that planting a church was going to be so hard and so exhausting and so costly that surely there were a million things to be afraid of and no joy in it. He persuaded me to believe that if I kept my eyes on the cost, I could be a hero for enduring. The problem is that when my eyes were on the cost, it seemed unbearable. I began to shut down and not live my in my calling or use my God-given gifts. I was shutting out the people around me, in an effort to just complete the tasks before me. Because God cares so deeply about my heart, He has opened my eyes. When I cried out to the Lord to see Him, my soul began to find joy again!

I began to see that God has come through. I could remember specific times He has shown up. He poured out His presence and met me in the darkest nights.

When one of our children was hospitalized for depression, He was there. When I hid in my house because I didn’t want to be hurt, He was there. When the presence of darkness overcame us in the night, the Holy Spirit came when we asked Him. When I felt like I couldn’t pray, He sent encouraging notes from strangers to tell me they were praying for us.

When I questioned all things and wanted to give up, Jesus pursued my heart and opened my eyes to the scheming ways of the enemy. He has gently and lovingly shown me that my struggle has come because I have been looking at the wrong thing.

It is when my eyes are on Jesus that I see the cost is worth it. When my eyes are focused on Him, I see that the souls of the people — the one He sent me to minister to — are worth it. Having tunnel vision on Jesus helps us believe Him for unexpected miracles and see Him work in remarkable ways.

“You will not need to fight in this battle. Stand firm, hold your position, and see the salvation of the Lord on your behalf.” (2 Chron. 20:17)

I am learning that my position is to keep my eyes on Jesus. When we hold our position, we get to see Him fight for us. Looking at Jesus makes all the other things dim in comparison to His greatness. The salvation we believed God for when we began this journey will come when we hold tightly to Jesus and stop believing the success of our churches rests on our shoulders.

Had I known this journey would be so hard, I might not have chosen it. But I am so thankful God chose me and that He chose you. What are you looking at? Does the situation you are surrounded with right now seem unbearable? Stop looking at the situation and put your eyes on Jesus. He will be come through for you too!

With our eyes on fixed on Jesus, we will see miracles, and we will say with full confidence that Jesus isworth it!

Published May 29, 2018

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Brandi Parrish

Brandi and her husband, Kelly, live in Fort Collins, Colorado, where he is the Lead Pastor of Living Rock Church. They have three sons and a daughter. Before becoming church planters, they served in leadership in their local church in Texas until a holy discontent and brokenness for the unreached turned their world upside down. Brandi currently spends her days discipling women and teens, teaching a weekly women's Bible study and writing curriculum. She is passionate about equipping women to live out their callings.