by Jenny Wheeler
“Wouldn’t it be awesome if we could find land like that someday for our church? Insert my sarcastic laughter here. “Yeah right.”
As we sat on the side of the road in a random spot, lost and discouraged in our house-hunting endeavor, I sighed those words in complete frustration when I noticed a dilapidated church sign in the middle of a field.
At the time, I just wanted a reasonably priced and safe place for our family to live. The church could wait, and judging from the real-estate prices we had seen, I was fairly certain we would NEVER own property like that anyway.
Over the next year, one venue after another said no. Yet, in true on-time-God fashion, we found an elementary school just outside our preferred location.
It met our needs, but it never felt like home. The week after week hauling, unpacking, setting up, tearing down, packing up, of portability became a lot for our small team. But we were thankful and pressed on.
Three months after our launch, we received a call about a small congregation that was losing their pastor to retirement. “Would you consider a revitalization?” they asked.
The call from a district official came as a surprise, and, for me, it was something I was not the least bit interested in even considering. The day I eventually gave in and agreed to drive by the church was one of those moments in life God reminds you just how BIG He is.
Nothing in our lives is random. Nothing happens by chance.
Driving back down a road that seemed random when we’d traveled before, and hadn’t been down since, was purely God showing me that taking a look back was His way of leading us forward.
Nineteen months after we saw the dilapidated church sign in the middle of a field, having forgotten all about the property, REACH Church moved from an elementary school to 13 acres of prime real estate and two buildings.
Two small congregations merged with the vision to see God use that land to forward the kingdom.
I would never have expected God to eventually give us the very place we “stumbled” upon months before. But, He did – though it was undeserved and unexpected. His hands were in it all from the very beginning. My man-o-faith (aka Chad, hubby, love of my life) knew it from day one.
Nearly 2 years prior, when I had sarcastically laughed over our “Isaac,” his response was this: “God IS going to give us land like that…a place we can grow, build, and have outreaches from, like soccer fields and tutoring.”
This summer will mark the first time soccer will be played on our fields. It may not have been as quickly as we hoped, but it is coming to pass 5 years later.
For us, this is a moment to recount His goodness. Rehearsing what He has done renews my heart, resets my focus, and reminds me this God I serve has been faithful to me, often more so and not in direct proportion to my level of commitment.
His faithfulness does not quit or give up. It goes on and on and on.
If you’re struggling as we have from DAY ONE of this church-planting journey, can I challenge you to back track? Turn your gaze from what is now and what still waits to be, and take a look at what He has already done. I promise you, He has been there through it all.
When I recount Your goodness,
Your kindnesses untold,
I see a tapestry of love-
fine silver and pure gold.
The silver is the lining,
surrounding every hurt;
the hard times, tears,
the wasted years,
revealing what I’m worth.
And gold of brilliant beauty
anchors each detail,
reminding me that You were there
when my faith had failed.
I see now- prayers “unanswered”
brought us closer still,
how You sowed Your faithfulness
though I strayed far from Your will.
And then I find blank spaces,
things not yet to be-
tomorrow’s days, unwritten,
and what You’ve planned for me.
There is no doubt in my heart
that it will be quite grand;
I know whose masterpiece I am-
I'm held in His great hand!
Through poetry, blogging, songwriting and worship leading, Jenny Wheeler has spent nearly 40 years expressing God’s love using the power of words.
In 2010, she and husband, Chad, embarked on a journey after 15 years of youth and worship pastoring to start a new church in Charlotte, NC. REACH Church is a relational and discipleship based church where Jenny serves as Worship Director and speaks on occasion. Learn more about REACH Church here.
In addition to serving at REACH, Jenny is a full time administrative assistant and continues to write and release music as well.
She is the proud mother of one son, Chase, two dogs, Zoe the Scottie and Kai the Blue Heeler, and two kitties, Taz and Callie, who all manage to keep her busy yet filled with so much joy.