As Kate and I step into this next season with you, we are filled with gratitude over the way this community has gone to battle with us the last two months.
When my brother Jeff died on August 4th, it immediately and irrevocably changed our world. Everything else faded to the background, and our entire family’s story became one of navigating devastating loss. Kate and our kids, my sister and her family, my parents, and especially DeAnna and her four incredible kids felt like we’d been set adrift on a ship of grief in an ocean of pain, without wind in our sails to move us – listless and helpless to be pushed and pounded by unrelenting waves of sadness.
If you’ll allow me to overplay that analogy a bit, it was only the community around us that kept us from being pounded into the rocks and destroyed. You came around us to gently pull our family out of the storm, away from the rocks toward safer water, where eventually the sun began to break through, and a faint breeze of hope began to fill our sails again.
Andy, Kim, Niesje, Jon & Christina, Chadd and Emily, Christian, Drew, and all of our incredible teams (Kingdom Kids, First Impressions, Worship, and Production) all stepped forward and led Living Waters with love and tenderness that was so needed.
So many of you poured out prayer, time, food, check-ins, and even financial support. The list is too long to post here, but please know that it is the love and support of this community that has filled our hearts with gratitude as we look ahead. The pain of loss is unrelenting, and the work is just beginning as we carry the legacy that Jeff left for his kids, for his wife, for the extended friendships and community.
While gratitude fills our hearts and we feel ready to move into the season ahead with our friends, family, and this fantastic Living Waters community, Kate and I still don’t know how that will look.
Of course, as leaders, we feel the importance of leading from vision, but it’s also important to recognize that there are times where the urgency to do something, say something, plan something or define a season removes us from the invitation from our Father to “be still, and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46)
It’s okay not to have all the vision.
It’s okay not to have all the answers.
It’s okay not to have everything figured out.
It’s okay to worship a God of mystery.
It’s okay not to be okay.
Walking in faith doesn’t always come with a cleared pathway to a determined destination.
We are ready to move forward in faith, but not at a pace that disconnects us from the process of healing and restoration that the Spirit of God must work in our hearts. We are also in a deeply intimate and personal process of laying everything in our life before Him, allowing him to redefine and rearrange our lives and leadership.
One thing we know is that if we step back into too much too soon, and our hearts aren’t fully engaged or in cohesion, that incongruity will destroy us and erode the foundation of honesty upon which this community is built.
For instance, one should not teach on the faithfulness and kindness of our Father if they have not yet anchored their own heart to Him in those areas. Teaching right-sounding words from a heart that is still groping for those strands of truth will not be effective or carry authority, undermining the spiritual, emotional, and intellectual integrity that we need to be the leaders God has invited us to be.
What we do know is that we are grateful. We are held. We are going to be okay. We believe that God has much for us ahead, and more than ever, the deep conviction that the only way through is together!
I (Ryan) am ready to begin small steps in the journey, starting this Sunday as we regather (read Andy’s word about a “family reunion” here) inside our 360 room at 9:00 and 11:00. I will be preaching from Acts as we continue our series “Communities of Transformation”. I am anticipating a powerful and important Sunday together!!
We love you all so much! It feels good to be coming back together as a church family. The time is right!
With deep gratitude,
Ryan and Kate