by Amanda Brady
Children’s Pastor, Amanda Brady is a guest writer for INCM.
Matt Weston is a missionary. However, the journey God took him and his wife, Jennifer, on was not what they had planned. In fact, he didn’t plan to be a missionary at all. In 2010 they began feeling the Lord calling them to do mission work in Spain. They began preparing. They recruited a team, raised financial support and applied for their visas. The process of getting a visa proved to be very difficult and a year later their applications were denied. They were disappointed to say the least. To add to the heartache they were feeling, Jennifer’s mother passed away unexpectedly that same year. Their financial supporters began to drop off. He experienced a disappointment and frustration with God that He had never felt before. He felt like the Lord was not delivering what He had promised to them.
Matt shared how he traveled through this path of disappointment and frustration with God. When God isn’t moving in the way we expect Him to, we easily fall into thinking that God isn’t working at all. It became essential for Matt to look for God’s hand and how He was at work in his life. Matt had to remember that God is good and had not forgotten about them. Matt found great comfort in Ephesians 2:10. In that verse we are told that we are God’s workmanship created in Christ for good works that God has prepared in advance for us. Matt pointed out a phrase that is integral in this verse: ‘in advance’. God has already planned the works that He has for us to do. Walking this road in 2010 was preparation for the good works the Lord had prepared for Matt.
It became a reality to Matt how the Lord disciplines those He loves. God was training and teaching him. Matt stated that this process is always challenging and can be painful at times, but is necessary. He shared with me the story of teaching his son, Seth, to swim. Matt placed his son on the corner of the pool and he extended his arms from inside the pool and encouraged him to jump. He explained that by teaching his son to swim this way, Seth learned not only that his dad would catch him, but also that he could swim better than he thought he could. During this difficult time, God wanted to teach Matt to trust that He would catch him and that Matt was stronger than he realized.
As Matt traveled through this season of life, he found it important to remember several things about God as well as himself. First, God is in the business of redemption. Hardships in this life are a result of one of two things: either our own actions or things that happen to us as a consequence of living in a fallen world. It is important that we remember that God does not cause hardships but He does redeem them. Second, we must remember who we are – how scripture identifies us. It is much more difficult to remain strong during difficult times if we begin to think of ourselves in self-limiting ways. Instead, remember that we are His creation; His workmanship. We are sons of God and co-heirs with Christ. We are more than conquerors. The list goes on and on. Finally, he had to remember that we are not defined by our circumstances. It is vital on this journey to remember that there is nothing we can do that will make us any more or less of the things that God has said that we are.
Matt has realized that the journey he was on was never about getting to Spain. Instead, it was about the formation of his faith and this was the path that God had taken him down to get there. Before, he found his identity in his job. God had to strip away those things (his job, his home) that were defining him so that he would learn to find his value in God.
By allowing God to lead him through this time of disappointment, Matt has gained the courage to lead with spiritual authority. He explained that enduring hardship leads to character building and hope that cannot be developed in any other way. Character only develops by going through things and coming out, changed, on the other side. Matt’s life has been changed and as a result he is impacting and reaching many by teaching church leaders how to be a blessing to those beyond their own walls.
For more information about Matt Weston and the work he is doing teaching churches to turn from an inward to an outward focus, please visit www.refocusing.org.