If you have been around me for even 5 minutes, you know I am crazy about Wilshire Baptist Church. There are reasons for this, and they run deep. Before I found Wilshire, I went through a time when thought I might have to be a Jesus-follower instead of a church member somewhere. I touch on this in “Our Journey to Wilshire” post in May. Today I’d like to share a little bit of the two year journey before finding Wilshire.
After my personal life fell apart along with the political climate at the same time, I was done. I was completely winded, and I no longer recognized where I lived anymore. No one was playing by the rules. I could not decide if I felt better raising my kids in church or outside of church. I was ready to take my chances outside of church. I still loved my church family. It just did not feel like home anymore. I wanted to be with the outsiders for a while. They comforted me.
Even though I was outside of church, I was listening to at least 1 to 2 sermons a day via podcast and reading Spiritual books like they were going out of style. These practices, along with meditation, helped me start noticing how holy my everyday life was in seemingly ordinary ways.
A story that stands out to me the most is when I had a pest management serviceman at our house. He really loves dogs and wanted to see my dogs, so we chatted a bit while he loved on my girls. He was telling me how much he loves music. He particularly loves Nine Inch Nails. He told me Nine Inch Nails has a song called “Hurt”. It was popular, and many bands and artists wanted permission to release their version of it too. They turned everyone down until they got to Johnny Cash. He was probably the 15th or 16th artist to ask permission, and they said yes to Johnny Cash. This is where the story gets chilling in all the good ways. Johnny Cash worked on “Hurt” while he was really sick. He died shortly after his version of the song was released. He changed one word in the song – only one – and it changed the meaning of the whole song. Johnny Cash changed the line “I wear this crown of ‘insert 4 letter word'” to “I wear this crown of thorns“.
My pest management friend told me that Nine Inch Nails were not believers but Johnny Cash was. I knew this about Johnny. I am a huge fan. I did not know this story though. He told me the light and dark need each other. Has anyone had a conversation like this with their pest management serviceman? I was stunned. I felt like God had sent me an angel – a story teller. This is a Jesus story. Also, the same day, the guy that sprays our weeds stopped me to tell me how much he enjoys seeing the dogs in our window. He had the biggest smile and was so kind wanting me to know he enjoys coming by.
During my break from church, my friend and I visited Jen Hatmaker’s church in Austin 2 years in a row. The first year was to check out their church. Their desire for justice was burning in our hearts too. She was not there, but the people who greeted us and sat with us were her parents. They were excited to meet us and hear what was on our hearts. They told us about their church, and several other places to check out around Austin. The day before we were exploring downtown Austin and it started raining. We bought ponchos and thought we might check out this beautiful Catholic Church to wait out the rain. We walked in on a wedding about to start. We were soaked in our ponchos and tried to hurry back outside. But the grandmother of the groom insisted we stay and crash the party. She wanted this story as much as we did. It was a riot. When we left we saw a homeless man, and we had nothing to give at that moment. I saw his face fall. A new Spirit came upon me that no one is going to be left out anymore. We are all invited to this party.
The following year we returned to Jen’s church again because Jonathan Martin was speaking. Those who know me know I am a fan of his. He hugged me and said he felt like he knew me from Twitter. Ha! His sermon was about the two disciples on the Road to Emmaus (Luke 24: 13-35). They had to leave Jerusalem, the Holy City, because they were disillusioned. They were walking and talking about their pain, and Jesus showed up and they did not even know it. Jesus punked them. He asked them what they were talking about. They were thinking, “are you the only one visiting Jerusalem who doesn’t know the things that have happened?” Jesus said, “What things?” I never really thought how funny Jesus might be until this story was presented this way. I also became aware that my friend and I were on our own Road to Emmaus. What once felt like home didn’t anymore. We had to walk away and talk about our pain. And it did feel like Jesus was showing up. When the disciples glimpsed Jesus and knew it was him was when they broke bread together. Their eyes were opened and then He was gone. They also realized their hearts had been burning when he was walking and revealing scripture to them. They got up and returned to Jerusalem.
Hearing this sermon was so moving for me. I was ready to return to church, but I did not fit where I was anymore. I wanted Jen Hatmaker’s church. Isn’t it interesting I found Wilshire through Jen Hatmaker and Nichole Nordemon’s “Moxie Matters” Tour a few months later that Wilshire co-sponsored? I learned my falling apart and becoming new was coinciding with the journey my new church home went through too! Wilshire is a gift to my heart. My people.