There are moments from your past that you look at and you think: “How in the world did we make it through that?” And there are triggers that take you back to those moments. Sometimes it’s a smell, or a song or a name or a city. For me, Asheville, NC is a trigger. When I hear the name of that city I am immediately taken back to our short time there.
I can so vividly picture the endless and winding roads through the Blue Ridge mountains, sweet little Macy cooing in the back seat, the look of stress on my husband’s face and the pit in my stomach telling me: “You are alone and you don’t know where you are going to go.”
We had traveled to Asheville on a whirlwind tour. For months we had been praying: “God, where do you want us to go?” We knew that God wanted us to start something new … perhaps even a church. But we didn’t know where. All roads were pointing to Atlanta, GA. We were ready to make the jump. There were people there, there was support there and there were people who believed in us there. Chad had visited several times but we hadn’t been there together. So, we packed up our sweet, little 6-week old Macy and made the 8 hour drive. Our first day there we knew … this isn’t it. Now what?
A dear friend in ministry had told us of the explosive growth happening in Asheville. Thousands of young people were relocating there. The majority of them were unchurched. We should check it out.
So we did. Atlanta to Asheville we went. Literally, within moments of us arriving there Chad and I looked at each other and laughed. This isn’t it either.
We decided to make the most of the few days we had there anyways. It was fall. The colors were beautiful. We drove and drove and drove. And it seems the further we drove, the more afraid I became. The majority of our closest friends had turned their backs on us. Our home was for sale. We had a newborn baby. We had no where to go. I had never felt so alone in my entire life. I remember looking out the window and thinking: “God, how could you just leave us here?” I had been putting on a game face up until that point for Chad and the girls. But the reality of our situation had finally set in. We were alone.
Several hours later, we stopped at an overlook. It was gorgeous and vast. It struck me in that moment that God had numbered every single leaf on every single tree. He knew when each leaf would fall and when each tree would bloom. He knew it all and He had known it since the beginning of time.
We got back in the car. Macy was clearly getting sick of being in the car seat and we knew it was time to head back to the hotel. We made small talk on the way and then we got back to talking about locations. “I just wonder if we ought to pray more about Ohio,” I said. “Maybe even a city like Columbus.”
It sounds completely irresponsible and strange. But we knew. Chad had literally traveled the country seeking God’s direction. He and I were in the middle of an extremely long trip with an extremely small baby. But somehow we knew. It was Columbus.
We made a stop at the Billy Graham Retreat Center on the way back to the hotel. It was breathtaking. The small museum there chronicling his life was inspiring and we could feel God’s presence as we walked through the sweet chapel his wife had designed. We were not alone. God was getting ready to do something. He had changed us.
This week we had the privilege of taking twelve of our amazing Rock City team members to benchmark a church in South Carolina. We spent 3 days there learning and growing. The person driving took an alternate way home that just happened to lead us through Asheville, NC. … TRIGGER.
We decided to make the stop and visit the Retreat Center with the team. Just a few short years ago, we had been there. Alone, scared and unsure. So much has happened since then. God has blessed us with an amazing team, an amazing church that has seen hundreds of people come to know Christ and a love for our city unlike anything I’ve ever felt before.
We made our way up to the prayer room above the chapel where we met Mable. She is an 84 year-old widow who spends the majority of her time praying for young people. I got the sense that even though she had never met us … she had been praying for us. Even though she had never been to Columbus … she had prayed for Columbus. She did not know our names or our story. But she had been praying for us.
Rock City is here because of people like Mable. Because God never leaves us and sometimes we have to feel alone to know that we are not alone.
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