Nothing like a whirlwind to excite things! Anyway, that is what it seemed like. The church went from one full time staff to…well, lots! Then I had to begin working for Christian World on Gauthier from the still Christian World on Oak Park. Needless to say, this opened a challenge for my organizational skills. Have I mentioned that I am competitive, lol? Perhaps not in the traditional sweat and run and workout way, but nonetheless, I am always up for a mental competition! I LOVE strategy and mysteries…
Pastors brought me to the Gauthier campus one night to show me around…to praise God for the WOW of this next season. I stood there looking across the sanctuary and in my heart knew that it had been such a blessing through the years to love and serve both of them. I could remember all the trust, the training, the love, the cards, the gifts, the trip to The Potter’s House, the flight to Denver, the laughter as well as the power that we saw of God in the things around us. I wasn’t sure what the future would hold – but I can certainly say I trusted enough to follow God as I followed them. And let me tell you…the new church campus looked like a city of its own! I took a quick glance at my hands and knew that God must really be planning to bless the works of my hands if I was going to be responsible for doing what I did on Oak Park here on this campus. I was already putting in long but blessed work weeks – but I knew God was sure to have a plan.
After a few weeks they moved me on campus and I met the 15 or so other staff that were already there. I had to learn quick, fast and in a hurry what I needed so I didn’t “skip” a beat in any areas affecting the pastors for minstry. We all did. There was no delay…not one service was missed. We hit the ground running!
When I first arrived on Gauthier it didn’t take me long to calculate that if I didn’t get a quick organizational plan in place my personal life was over. For surely, with a huge congregation and large campus if everyone did their own thing in their own timeframe then the end result would be scrambling with many after hours or weekend projects. There were many, many things that I couldn’t delegate and everything had just gotten much bigger. I was the keeper of the “knowledge” so I had to share instructions until everyone else learned it for themselves. I structured as effectively and professionally as I knew with no formal training.
I worked a couple of years after that, loving the ministry work, sincerely receiving, giving, pressing, enduring, growing, learning, and truly believing God was using it as seed for my good. I stayed in the spiritual gym and pressed and pushed to serve. Does anyone know that ministry doesn’t punch a time clock? I was so grateful to God for the Word that was on the inside of me. For real, I was able to call up a chapter of scripture from my heart and meditate on it…oh my Jesus, I know that memorizing scripture sustained me many times. I bought a home during this season, blessed truly by family, pastors and friends. I also continued writing, ministering as a prayer counselor, and led as a singles leader. Then I was blessed to begin to teach/facilitate the ladies bible studies at night. I loved teaching from the bottom of my soul…I loved seeing the lesson come alive in their eyes and then their hearts. I loved surprising them with visual aids and testimony snippets where God had taught me. I loved the passion in me to teach.
However, as staff, my supervisory duties began to seriously increase. Two more ministry responsibilities were added to me as leaders stepped down from leading. Then as time passed the weddings began to multiply and with that came meetings, contracts and rehearsals that I alone handled as wedding coordinator. And concerts began to increase. I would take the contract…and coordinate all accounting, volunteers, staff, and artists to make it happen. Truly my responsibilities were substantial and I sought God to bless the works of my hands…and multiply my time with wisdom.
But eventually, like everything else under heavy pressure, as the time passed by…I began to need serious relief against the pressure. I said help as many times as I could. I remember telling someone that even an Olympic swimmer will drown if he never reaches land. And tell me, what weight lifter never puts the weights down? I started feeling like a sacrifice …a reminder from my childhood declaring that I had no value as a person. I was hemmed in with church confidential information on one side – and details that no one else was responsible for on the other – which isolated me because of my position. I began to resent the never ending details that everyone else mocked me for…till they were the ones that needed them. And I dreaded concerts because it demanded tremendous thought and coordination time and I was already treading water. They watched me fight the load. I felt led to step down as a singles leader and as the night bible study teacher – seeking to find personal time as best I could since I had no authority to lay down administration responsibilities without permission. And sometimes, well sometimes I just sorrowed that my service in ministry seemed to have less maintenance value than most people routinely performed on their vehicles.
So, I began preparing my life for a change – feeling and surely acting very much like that angry porcupine that I shared about earlier in my story. But I got my desk in order and waited. The change did come.
But now today, peace is restored, and the beauty is that everything of value came with me. Truly, especially you, if I touched your life any at all during those many years in ministry that I wasn’t… just at my desk. I will never forget all the food baskets I was asked to put together and bring to the hospital for families just waiting long hours, or the tears and gratefulness as I visited and anointed your loved one as they passed from this life. I remember singing over a lady in ICU that couldn’t even speak. I remember speaking Psalm 23 from my heart into another heart that would see Jesus just 2 days later. I cried with you, held you, loved you, and served you.
I remember holding hands and hearts at the altar as we touched souls with your Healer, your Savior, your Comforter, you Redeemer, your Deliverer and well, just anything you needed Him to be. I knelt over you in protection as you were slain in the spirit…protecting the babies that God trusted me with at His altar.
I remember the drama practices where I played Mary for Easter. The Joy and passion that Christ put in us to play His story. I remember the dances we danced – the twirling – the joy – the freedom on us that we prayed would be transferred to those we ministered to.
I remember the prayer service where I got healed on the spot, the worship services where we all loved on Jesus and the Word waterfalls that we all stood under so, so, so many times.
I remember the love I received and the love I gave. I remember the love you received and the love you gave. I remember love. And speaking of love…
I remember when my second husband was in ICU dying with heart attack damage – sometime after our divorce – and I went to see him. I was still humble with God’s forgiveness in having walked away from that marriage covenant. While I was spending time with him in there I asked Him about his salvation because I knew that he was afraid. And there in that ICU room I knelt on the floor, praying and holding his hands – and led him to the Lord. We both cried. He is alive to this day. The God touch is…when I got back to the church office, I noticed that it was our anniversary.
I remember just a couple of years ago when my first husband’s wife was really ill and my son was concerned about it. All of us Christians now, I asked my son, Zeb, to see if they would like me to come anoint and pray with her. I went over there and she was in bed resting. I sat on the side of their bed checking on her. Then my ex husband, her husband came home and knelt on the other side of their bed. I anointed her while we all prayed in the Holy Ghost in their bedroom. Now tell me that’s not God’s definition of restoration.
And finally, I remember who I used to be when I walked into the church that first Easter Sunday all those years ago….and I am amazed as I remember each and every detail that Jesus has changed in me as I write today. I would say that compared to what the enemy had in store for me beginning when I was a little girl…I know I got my miracle!
You see, that is what a testimony is all about, what God has done. I am who I am because of what He has done. My mission statement is to: Touch, Inspire and Encourage the Body of Christ. I pray that my testimony has done that for you so that you can begin your journey for your new beginning just like I did…no matter where or what you came from.
Whoa….wait, speaking of beginning, I think this takes us back to the crossroads that I began with during my first story on the Harley. Come on…it’s time to go back…
I step across and straddle the Harley parked right in front of the crossroad sign – popping up the kickstand all in one motion. Holding my helmet and my sunglasses I looked one more time back down the road to the left – my past. I wipe a tear and softly lay my hand against my heart knowing that all the valuables and treasures from my past are inside me. If it isn’t, I don’t need it.
I look to the right – to my future. I laugh and then reach across and turn the ignition key, feeling the Harley rumble to life under me. I slide the helmet over my long hair, careful not to twist my big loop earrings. I put on my sunglasses. I turn behind me and glance down at my license plate – “FUTURE 101”. I give it a quick straighten and turn back around, humming to myself.
I put both hands on the handlebars, hit the right blinker and slowly twist the throttle – and roll out to begin my new journey. Then I begin to talk to Jesus. “Jesus, what’s next up the road? Is my destiny to find my soul mate first and then storytelling? Or, is it storytelling first and then my soul mate? Tell me, please!” He laughed at my prodding and just prompted me to watch the road. “Well,” I said. “Don’t make me wait pleeeeaaassee, which is it?”
He leaned down and whispered in my heart, “It’s one or the other.” I laughed and said, “You’re teasing me.” He paused and said, “Of course I am, but Patti, do you really want to know?” “Please, Mighty One” I said. “You know I hate surprises and open all my presents before I am supposed to.” He gave me a quick squeeze and said, “I know, but this one is worth it. Just ahead around the second curve is a road sign, it will tell you what you need to know.”
Cruising around the second curve I finally got close enough to read the sign….it said:
Storytelling Book 50 miles
Soul Mate 230 miles
I hit the throttle hard…and off I flew…ready for destiny!
End of this journey… for now!
Patti Corbello Archer