One year ago we (Pastors Andrea and Nate DeWard) were in Orlando for several days, having been invited by a team of respected church leaders to take part in an intensive interview/assessment/discernment process. We were asked to consider whether starting a new church in Florida was the right “next step” that God was leading us to take after 8 years of ministry in Michigan.
For several days we and other potential church planters were stretched and challenged as we talked and prayed through the big question, “Are you ready to risk everything and trust God to help you start a new church in a place where you don’t know anybody?” Big question indeed!
Finally the team of leaders met for decision time on Wednesday afternoon (March 23, 2011). While the “interviewers” were sequestered in a room talking and praying, those of us who had been the “interviewees” went out in the Florida sunshine and gathered for our own time of prayer.
It had been an amazing week together, and we had grown to care for one another. All were keenly aware that in a few short hours some of us would be invited to move to Florida and start one of 5 new churches being planned there. We also realized that while all of us would be affirmed and encouraged for our gifts in ministry, some of us would hear the team’s discernment that this particular opportunity was not the right fit at this time. And so, we prayed in love and unity, with passion and some emotion, not knowing who would be moving ahead together in this new adventure, and who would continue to search and be called elsewhere to serve God.
After hugs and goodbyes and well wishes, we each left the conference center to go out to dinner with a member of the team who would tell us the news. As we drove, we noticed a sky-writer plane leaving white puffs of penmanship in the clear blue canvas above. J… We watched in curiosity as each letter slowly formed with every twist and turn of the plane. J–E–S–U–S. Oh, how cool is that! We snapped pics and stared as the trails in the heavens continued to unfold. Crawling along in rush hour traffic, we craned our necks to see. L–O–V–E–S U. Oh, wow, that’s really neat. JESUS LOVES U! We joked with our team member, “How’d you manage that? You’re REALLY trying to impress us, huh?”
The first words were already floating away when we realized the sky-writer wasn’t done. Our traveling position had changed such that no good picture angle was available, but each swoop left its carefully choreographed cloud, spelling out T–R–U–S–T. Never a more fitting word for the present circumstance we found ourselves in. Finally J–E–S–U–S appeared above us again. TRUST JESUS!
Seriously? Yes. No joke.
JESUS LOVES U TRUST JESUS
How good is God to speak to us in the Florida sky!
One year later, here we are – we’ve moved to Florida, and a new church is growing as we TRUST JESUS. LifeSpring Church is all about sharing the message JESUS LOVES U and we will Go. Show. Love. in 2012 and beyond!