It is Spring. Which means changes are taking place all around me. I noticed for the first time ever that cherry blossoms bloom all along the main street of my town. How is it that I’ve never noticed them before? Daily I see that branches are greener, grass is taller, daylight lasts longer; I notice that people are a bit more relaxed, their tones more agreeable, their smiles more ready, and their pace more languid. This is Spring. This Spring I am alive to change. Transformation, renovation, reformation, even revolution, might better convey what is taking place, or budding, in my life right now. At the forefront of this seasonal shift is a change of churches. This change feels like a life reformation. And so it is.
I matured spiritually at a large, multi-ethnic, urban church, a mega-church really. An imperfect, but fine, fine church. A few years ago I sensed the Lord saying to me that it was time to go from this haven. Eventually I was drawn back to the church where I first met the Lord. I felt impressed to return to this small, suburban congregation of peoples from different countries around the world, though all of the same race. There was a new pastor, there was a new vision, there was a new vitality to the people it seemed. I followed the Lord’s prompting, and I do believe it was the Lord, relinquished my leadership responsibilities at the mega-church, and moved on.
It has been a few years since I came to my suburban church. Of course there were adjustments. There are differences. One key difference being that there is a lower level of spiritual maturity among these saints, which I anticipated. What I did not anticipate was that, in the years that I dwelled among them, I would experience a steady spiritual decline. Steady. Decline. The issue has become, on the one hand, that this church has taught me in ways, grown me in ways, and changed me in ways that could never have occurred at the mega-church; it has been profitable to be here, kind of. On the other hand, how far back is one expected to slide before it’s acceptable to cry out for a rope and reeling in?
Truly, I have known for quite some time that change was necessary and inevitable. In the heart of winter, between Christmas and New Year’s Day, I sought the Lord in earnest and He promised Spring. But winter went on for weeks and weeks more. I went to California in March planning, after the Writer’s Conference, to spend extended periods of time in the presence of the Lord praying and crying out for direction. But I didn’t. Nonetheless, looking back on my time spent in the doing of nothing in particular–on long meandering drives (now to the city, now to the beach); in ebbing and flowing conversations with Jesus; drenching my senses in the incomparable California sunshine; finding spontaneous answers to the daily question, “What am I going to eat for dinner tonight?”–I realize that my time away was transforming. Winter ended while I was there. I returned to New York in the spirit of tranquility and expectation. I returned owning the experience of sunshine, belonging, purposefulness and weightlessness. The parts of my life that had been merely ill-fitting before my trip, upon my return could no longer contain me. My soul had expanded, my spirit had enlarged. The Spring that commenced for me in California insisted and clamored that winter at home, in New York, desist.
And so, the winter released its hold on my life. It is Spring, at last. There are cherry blossoms blooming on my main street that I never noticed before. I am leaving my church. The, “How do I…?” and the, “Where do I..?” I have left for the Lord to answer…