It's been quite some time since I have blogged about anything, let alone written on a personal level. So, I figured what better way to work out a mental and emotional puzzle than in front of you, my readers and friends. Shining a light is good when you're feeling isolated and indecisive.
Sometimes you just have to air out the stale conversations you've been having with your self in your head because cobwebs disappear in fresh air...
Some of you know that the Lord led me to buy a building in January while in the midst of a silent retreat with a group of friends. I have long been looking to open a center for healing and Christian Arts, and had passed up other opportunities to do so. Honestly, I thought "that's a dream," and dreams don't come true; dreams are a rare penny in the fountain of reality. This building was not just any building, but a church a block from our house which had been deserted in a congregational schism about 5 years previously. I had literally joked about buying it when we purchased our home 4 years earlier. Since that time the church stood empty; its roof sagging and its surrounding property becoming overgrown with neglect. When the Lord asked me to circle the block, I saw the sheriff's sale flyers plastered on the front door. I threw the car in park and hopped out to grab one only to find that the sale date had come and gone. As I drove back towards my house to continue about my business, the Lord said "look again."
Of course, I grumbled and looked up the property online with the county office. 4 words stared back at me as I read in annoyance: NO BID NO SALE. So, I kept looking and researching still sitting in my driveway. The last sale I could find of the property was $775,000, and I chuckled out loud grabbing my bag to go inside knowing I could never raise a sum like that. I heard the Lord again, clearer this time,
"Look again, Ariana."
Reluctantly, I grabbed my phone back out of the bag, huffing and puffing because it seems I'm always in a hurry when God is trying to show me something. Pulling the sale page back up, I now saw it: NO MINIMUM BID. My heart leapt out of my chest. "Is this for real?!" So I prayed,
"Lord, if this is your will let every door swing wide like the floodgates of Heaven. And if it is not your will, let every door shut tight so tight I couldn't open it if I tried!"
This journey has taken me on many ups and downs. The disappointment of seeing the horrid shape of the gym roof caved in, the heart crushing when someone else purchased it, and the daily trips circling the building in prayer and weeping. But their was the moment I fell in love with the stained glass windows and the time that a dear friend of mine expressed she too was on the hunt for a building to use for the healing ministry of Jesus. The presence of the Lord accompanied my every trip around that block, and His faithfulness to His promise comforted my heart when it was overwhelmed with doubt. Today I walked through it again, taking in the craftsmanship and His presence as it's current owner led the way through each room. "The more time I spend here, the less I want to turn it into something else," he said. And then it happened, sitting on the balcony in this sacred space while I watched his face, he too heard the Lord say "look again."
So, here we are 6 months later: this building is mine if I walk into it, and the current owner is only looking to secure that it is used for ministry as originally designed. A gallery for the prophetic arts, a coffee shop that serves mercy and hospitality with the coffee, or a counseling center for those needing to work on themselves with the guidance of Christian advisors. Most importantly, Jesus, Jesus, and more Jesus, drawing together the streets of Firestone Park and Akron in redemption and wholeness.
The only problem is that this is big. A big commitment, a big dream, a big margin for error. Ugh, there's the doubt again... So, will I or won't I, look again? Pray with me please, for wisdom, for vision, for clarity, and for Jesus to be glorified in this place, whether I own it or not.