Platform: Following in Faith
By Andrea DeWard
In 2010 my husband and I, both pastors, were discerning our next call in ministry. My father’s lung cancer had metastasized, which strengthened my conviction that I could not possibly move away; “I will serve you, God…but it has to be in Michigan.”
My younger sister came to visit from California where she had been giving her all for five years in a fruitful, albeit exhausting ministry. I shared about our potential job search and confided that although a couple opportunities in other states looked interesting, “I could never leave, not with Dad’s cancer.”
My sister immediately challenged my “yes but no” stance with God: “Andrea, if God is calling you someplace else, then God will take care of Mom and Dad. You can’t put limits on God.”
The Spirit used my sister’s loving rebuke to encourage a first step away from the closed door of my heart. I had been leaning against it in fear, not allowing myself to be open to wider possibilities.
During Advent I taught from Margaret Feinberg’s The Life of Mary. I was stretched and convicted as I studied and passionately preached about following and trusting God.
Preaching with accountability and authenticity means that as I invite others to engage, I too am listening to God’s message, wrestling and willing to be transformed. Mary heard, “The Lord is with you…Do not be afraid,” and responded, “I am the Lord’s servant.” God was asking the same from me.
That miracle of submission finally happened. We accepted a call to do a church plant in Florida. It was one of the best and hardest things I’ve ever done. The journey has been exhilarating and devastating, with four family deaths and five moves in a little over two years.
Now, with perspective and healing, I see my willingness to go was the first major step, but it was only part of a deeper process of allowing God to transform my understanding of church, my sense of security, and my pastoral identity.
God assures us, “The Lord is with you…Do not be afraid,” and empowers us to respond, “I am the Lord’s servant” without limits or conditions.
Andrea DeWard pastored LifeSpring Church in FishHawk, Florida, with her husband, Nate, from 2011 to 2012. Platform offers RCA members a chance to share their opinions.