Fifteen years ago, I was newly out of college, newly married, newly trying to be an employee, newly trying out adulthood. Dave and I mostly felt like we were playing pretend, in our first apartment, acting like we were all grown-up but really having no clue how to live a life that mattered.
And then Dave’s co-worker invited him to try out this new church, just beginning, she said. I grew up in every kind of church, from military chapels to little bible churches, Charismatic to Catholic Mass. So an elementary school didn’t scare me and we sat in lunch room chairs and we sang songs to one guitar, reading words off the overhead projector. We stacked our chairs at the end of the service and we met a man named Pete who was funny and disarming and convinced us we should all have lunch together, so we did.
One lunch turned to two turned to ten, and Dave and I slowly grew into being adults under his love and care. We began serving, too, Dave sitting cross-legged, in the halls of that elementary school, making up silly games with third grade boys. Me–having middle school girls over for “youth group” and beginning to discover how much I love listening, leading, teaching. And the story continues, winding through so many ministry memories…student retreats, leadership meetings, concerts in the park. Eventually I worked at Hope, answering phone calls, copying worship guides, having theological conversations with David and Pete between making coffee and creating endless brochures with Microsoft Publisher.
Hope became the settling place for our hearts, a place that overflowed with grace. And grace is safe, and safe is love, and love is where you grow.
This Sunday I stood between Pete and David, the pastors I’ve grown so much between. And now I lead too, and I try to write and teach and pray with all the candor and grace that I’ve always found at Hope. And this weekend we celebrated the greatness of God, who has grown Hope from that little gathering in a small cafetorium to thousands of people who have come to find life and purpose in Jesus Christ. And I can hardly believe the twists and turns of my own life, intertwined with so many families and people that make up this special place. And by 5:30 tonight, four services after we began the celebration that I was so honored to help lead, I was a puddle of tears, overcome by the greatness of our God.
Here’s a video I helped create to mark the occasion. It’s just so Hope, and a little picture of why we have said for fifteen years: “The Best Is Yet to Come.”