Tuesday, November 10, 2009

My Detour through the Wilderness - Pam Carrigan

I have always loved church! I grew up a preacher’s kid. So we spent a lot of time at church. I loved the people, Sunday school, singing and listening to my daddy preach. I don’t ever remember not wanting to go or pretending to be sick so I could stay home and watch TV (except when Cinderella was going to be on Wonderful World of Disney)!
I married Tom, an amazing Godly man and a music minister (not a preacher) in 1985, providing me with even more opportunities to love and serve the body of Christ throughout our 28 years of marriage and ministry.
Fast forward to March 2008 when the opportunity came for us to move North Carolina. After much prayer and seeking God’s will, Tom accepted a new job in High Point. We were officially headed to the Promised Land. Little did I realize I would have to take a detour through the wilderness on my way to my destination!
We settled Tom & Warren into an apartment in April 2008 and he began his new job adventure! Ryan and I stayed behind in Alabama. How excited we were about the possibilities God had for us in North Carolina. What I failed to realize was God had some things to teach me, in the wilderness, all alone. All alone, without some things in my life that I were SO important to me!
First, my precious family was no longer together in one place. They were no longer there for me to take care of on a daily basis. I had spent the past 23 years meeting the physical needs of Tom, Warren and Ryan and poof, everything changed. I, in effect was family-less.
Second, the church that I loved to serve was more or less, gone. Of course, Tom had resigned his full time ministry position to take the job in NC. Therefore MY women’s ministry, Sunday School Class, Bible Study groups, Praise Team, AWANA kids were gone. All those sweet faces that I loved so much were no longer connected to my daily life. You could say I was church-less.
Thirdly, I packed up and sold the home I loved. I should mention here that we took a lot of pride and care in our home. You might say it was a little too important to us. But at 48, I moved in with my mother and I was home-less.
Fourthly, there was my career as a realtor. I had worked hard and had become very successful in the local real estate industry. In fact, I took great pride in being the primary bread winner while Tom served in full time ministry positions. But as I wrapped up my business in AL so that I could join my husband in NC I came to the realization that I was about to be jobless or should I say income-less.
So here I was in Alabama family-less, church-less, home-less and income-less. I was absolutely POWERLESS! Being powerless is not comfortable for a control freak, in-charge personality like me. But then God never promised us comfort did he? Especially not in the wilderness!
A few life changing lessons I learned while powerless in the wilderness:
1) “You shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or in the waters below. You shall not bow down (serve) to them or worship them.” Exodus 20:3-5a
I had allowed important things in my life, my family and my church, to become like idols. Many times they received my praise and worship rather than God, the Creator himself. In a way I allowed them to take the rightful place of God in my life.
2) “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve (discern) what God’s will is-his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Romans 12:2
I had to quit conforming to the pattern of this world. I had to stop making my home and my money like a god, determining how much money I have to make and how much I needed to spend to make my house as good, no, better than the neighbor’s. I had to allow God to transform my mind with the truths of his Word and not the lies of Satan.
3) “Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author (source) and finisher of our faith.” Hebrews 12:1b-2a
I must be aware of the schemes of the enemy to snag me with that desire for power, control money. He even used my love, yes love for the church against me. He is a liar and a thief! I will be vigilant against the enemy’s plots. I must throw off everything that hinders me and persevere toward my call.
My journey through the wilderness taught me that I had to make a conscious choice to change from within so that there would be no question as to the God that I served!
God allowed me to join Tom in NC in November 2008. Yes, I spent 6 months in the wilderness. I am not a quick learner!
But the good news is this:
• I am no longer family-less. I love my family and still take very good care of them but they no longer take the rightful place of my God.
• I am no longer home-less. After a year in an apartment, we closed on our house in April. One that’s less than half the size of our house in AL. It’s a little tight with both our sons living with us, but that too shall pass.
• I am no longer income-less! I have established a real estate career here in Greensboro. I have been given some really unique opportunities to help others find the perfect place to call home. I am still learning to trust God to provide for our needs. I continue to remind myself that I am not in control anymore!
• I am no longer church-less. We have been given a place to serve at Cornerstone, even though it is different than we expected. “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up: do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland.” Isaiah 43:18-19. Yet I no longer allow my service to God to function as a god in my life.

Even though it was a difficult and lonely journey, this would not be my Promised Land without the lessons learned in the wilderness. I am so grateful for the opportunity to serve you and I never intend to be lacking in zeal and I will keep my spiritual fervor, serving the Lord! Why? Because that’s what I do! I love and serve the body of Christ, especially precious women! I believe I have truly arrived in my Promised Land…Cornerstone Women’s Ministry.

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