A Season for Growth

09/24/2017 .
Roxie Kelley  .  Volunteer Storyteller

Many of her closest friends assumed Sharon was already at the top of her game. She was a single mom, raised her children well, had a successful career, and volunteered at her church. Yet, she didn’t feel that she was able to fully realize her potential until two years ago.

As an avid gardener, Sharon understands seasons and plant cycles well. Not everything blooms simultaneously. When she began studying Saddleback Church’s Transformed series, seeds planted in her life through Pastor Rick’s teaching began to grow. Through the lessons she was learning, Sharon felt God was asking her to take a closer look at her value system — and her priorities. The world saw her as a hard-working, successful parent. But she was gaining a different perspective on how she invested her time and energy. She felt God wanted to change her focus and get more involved at church.

Sharon saw how ordinary people were involved in Saddleback’s PEACE Plan — travelling all over the world to train and work alongside other local churches — and began attending PEACE Practical meetings to see how she might get involved. She knew God was calling her to serve other local churches across the globe, but she couldn’t make the time to take any trips. She wanted to make this ministry a big part of her future and prayed for guidance.

Sharon had a great job, but it was very stressful and required a lot of attention and energy. She longed to trade the stress at work for the chance to invest in her own spiritual growth and help others. Sharon felt retirement was her answer. This would give her time to take more PEACE trips and invest fully in the ministry. When she asked her small group to pray with her about the decision to retire, they were dumbfounded. Many of the women were praying for a job like Sharon’s, and they found it difficult to believe she wanted to walk away from that. Nonetheless, they agreed to pray with her. Sharon felt God affirming her decision and she stepped out of her full-time job and began training for her first PEACE trip. Two years, and several trips later, Sharon was able to serve local churches in London, Mexico, Moscow, and in Orange County, California alongside other volunteers at Saddleback Church.

But God wasn’t finished with Sharon’s growth. Though she never had any reservations about giving her time and talent to serve, she struggled to understand the importance of giving financially.  During the Daring Faith series, she began to understand that she was leaving her financial life out of her commitment to God.

She doubted her ability to give a tenth of her income to the church. To make matters even more complicated she felt God was also asking her to buy her own home. At first, this idea of buying a home just seemed like an impossible dream, especially after retiring. As Sharon considered all the ways God had been faithfully meeting her needs after retirement, her hope blossomed. The financial worries that would have dominated her thinking in her younger years no longer plagued her. Instead she became excited as she imagined how God would accomplish this in her life. She had seen how God had transformed her thinking when he asked her to retire. She wanted to keep trusting God. The weeds of worry were replaced with one promise after another from God’s Word, strengthening her resolve.

Sharon set a move-out date, and prayed as often as she thought about the plan. The date was a few months away which gave her and her realtor time to locate a house. Her realtor was not optimistic but Sharon never lost hope. On the date she was scheduled to move out, she had not yet found a home. But she remained committed, trusting God would provide where he was leading her. She temporarily moved in with a member of her small group, storing her belongings in a facility within blocks of where she was hoping she would find her new home. Sharon kept searching for the house she knew God had for her. Within three days, her realtor found her the perfect home.

Sharon’s house, located near Saddleback Church, is used by traveling church volunteers almost weekly. There is also plenty of room for her small group to gather there. This place is a physical reminder to each of them of God’s provision as Sharon trusted him to take giant steps of faith during a season in her life when it didn’t seem logical or practical. Her gardening skills have also been put to good use, enhancing the beauty of this very special home. In between hosting, Sharon continues to volunteer on PEACE teams. She carries seeds of hope with her, sharing her story and inspiring growth everywhere.

To learn more about The PEACE Plan, click HERE.

To learn more about Daring Faith, click HERE.

Related StoriesSee More

Jeff had been on the job hunt for weeks, but when he wanted to use his free time for a PEACE trip with Saddleback many of his friends questioned his decision.

John and Pam were on the brink of divorce. Celebrate Recovery was able to help them redeem their fractured relationship.

An abrupt end to her marriage sent Liz's life spinning out of control.

Jim's fight with addiction often left him alone, on the streets at night.