Have you ever heard that verse in Jeremiah (29:11) that people quote when you’re in distress? It says something about how God has plans to prosper you and not harm you and have no fear he will rescue you? I have always struggled with verses that turn into inspirational quotes. Sure that’s nice and all but what was happening before that? Why did he have to be reminded that God would be with him? Because honestly most days that is not where my faith is at. My faith in God, myself, my marriage, my friendships. So I hear a portion of scripture like that, and I feel shame. Shame that I don’t believe enough. Shame I am not whom I need to be in the position I am in at the West Nashville Dream Center.
Let’s go back a bit. Do you know what happened before all this? Well, it’s actually kind of amazing, and it’s what I refer to as ugly mess gut-wrenching faith that you have to hang on to by a tiny thread to make it, which I actually believe is real faith. If we compare our faith to the end result that it got someone, we will never live up to the expectation or ever qualify to receive that kind of faith.
So what was God saying here? He was telling them to HOLD ON. They were in exile! They had no home and were forced to live in a land that wasn’t theirs. Also, the part that always strikes me is he didn’t just want them to sit and wait for him to make them prosper, he told them to take root, plant gardens, have sons and daughters and help the land he exiled them to flourish.
Since the WNDC has gone fully mobile after the loss of our building, one of the most common things people ask us is ‘why did you stay?’ Well, the clearest explanation we have is that none of us felt like our time was done here in this neighborhood. There are still people in desperate need of hope, and we can offer that so why would we abandon them? Is it easy? Nope. It’s probably the hardest season of ministry any of us have experience. However, we are prospering, we are growing, we are creating new relationships, and we feel like even in the hardest season of ministry we are seeing God increase our influence, our reach, and our resources.
One day soon I hope our story is that we have a fantastic property where we can see hundreds of people a week be fed, cared for and empowered. I hope that we can look back and say “Wow look at God!” I hope that we can own property debt free and use all our resources to serve people. However, I hope we never forget it wasn’t that simple. I hope we always remember that even while we were waiting for God still chose to let us prosper and asked us to keep building even if we didn’t know what was next. I hope we never forget all the sleepless nights we wondered if this could work or if we would fail. I wish I remember standing up in front of people and telling them we lost our building but it was going to be ok, but barely believing myself. I hope I remember all the exhausting days when we were short staffed.
I don’t believe for one minute God requires us to have the kind of faith you hear about at the end of a story before the story has even started. I think he wants us to be faithful first with what we know he has asked us to do. One tired scared hesitant foot in front of the other and kept on moving forward. I believe faith is the gift we get at the end of the season. It’s like seeing the harvest in your first garden. You plant seeds thinking “no clue what I am doing, and it prob won’t grow but let’s try and then it does… so what happens the next season? You believe! Because you have seen.
Executive Director, TJ Fletcher