A Brave and Bold Faith

It was Sunday and Ben Stuart was preaching at our church.  If you don’t know who that is, you should - so look him up.  Listen to his preaching, you can thank me later. As always on a “Ben Sunday” as they are known to us, it was crowded. I was an usher that day and I gave up my seat in the very back of the sanctuary to a woman who came in late.  I sat cross-legged on the floor listening to him talk about decisions that defined his ministry. There was one thing they all had in common, they all required the most faith in God.  

He said, “We want to live by faith - leaning so far into God that if He’s not real, we fall over.”

And right there in the silence of that room, I asked God, “What is it for me? What decision would take the most faith?”  And like a bolt of lightning, the answer shocked my soul. God said, “Leaving your job at Faithbridge.”

Wait. What?

No. I thought we had this settled. God and I talked about this before when He first began pursuing me about going to seminary.

Seminary was something that I would only momentarily let myself dream about before tucking it back in my heart.  The timing wasn’t right. It wasn’t financially possible. I put it back on the shelf and filed it in the box labeled “one day.” I told God, “No.” It was a pretty simple checklist of reasons, if you ask me.

  • No, I have a full-time job and I’m not interested in quitting.

  • No, I have two small children, a husband who travels, and household to run.

  • No, I have a headache every single day of my life.

Honestly, where that last one was concerned, how could He even ask me to do one more thing when He hadn’t healed my headaches? No deal.

In the months following, I went on a birthday trip with my mom and my brother.  My super athletic family was out paddling boats, running sprints, collecting coconuts and all kinds of nonsense that does not say “vacation” to me.   I settled into a beach chair, opened up my journal and my Bible hoping to relax from what had been a busy season. Instead, He led me to these words.

“I hasten and do not delay to keep your commandments.” Psalm 119:60 ESV

God didn’t want to talk about the rest and refuge I needed from an intense season of ministry. He wanted to talk about my failure to obey. Some relaxing beach time this turned out to be.

My delayed obedience was disobedience.  

With the clarity that rivaled the waters of that Caribbean island, I knew that it wasn’t settled at all.  God didn’t care about my checklist of no’s or reasons why it couldn’t work, wouldn’t be right, or was impossible. He wasn’t concerned about my plan to stay comfortable and maintain “my place.” It was clear what He was asking me to do even if I wasn’t clear why.

I came home, interviewed friends and pastors, toured seminaries, and submitted my applications.  Just a few weeks later, after months of waiting, I finally got in to see a renowned headache specialist. After 5 years of doctors, medications, injections, holistic treatments, misdiagnosis, chronic pain, and a whole lot of prayer, I found someone with answers. In July, I had an experimental migraine surgery. And it worked. Even as I type this I cannot believe it’s real. My headaches are reduced by 90%. That’s from every single day of the month to 2 to 3 times a month. A real life, in the flesh, modern-day miracle.  

The surgery was invasive and the recovery is brutal. It takes a full year for the damaged nerves to regenerate and to determine the success. The key success factors in the recovery are reducing activity, reducing stress, rest, and self-care. In the days leading up to my return to work, I knew it was time to let go of my job. This is what God was preparing me for all those months ago on the floor of the sanctuary.  I held out hope through the whole process that He was going to heal my headaches, send me to seminary, and let me keep the ministry I love. That would be my way. It wouldn’t require so much sacrifice. It wouldn’t require so much faith.

The day I resigned from my position, I came home to find out that I received a fellowship with a scholarship to Fuller Theological Seminary.  God made a way through my obedience.

Erwin McManus writes in his book Chasing Daylight, “We will all find ourselves at some point in our lives being asked to put everything we know on an altar with only a promise of a future we do not know.” Or as my husband who is not so eloquent but equally inspirational said, “Let me get this straight. You are leaving the job you want to get the education you want but with no guarantee, you will ever have the job you want again.” Right. That’s not scary at all.

It’s been a hard season of transition, goodbyes, and letting go. I’m incredibly grateful for these 5 years on the Faithbridge Staff.  I am forever changed by the people of this church I served, the pastors and mentors who invested countless hours into my development, the staff of gifted individuals I had the privilege to lead. I got a front row seat in a movement of God.

My story is defined by these big God moments of courageously saying “yes” and walking into an unknown future.  Moving to Houston. Leaving my job in corporate America. Entering full-time ministry. Preaching. Each one is marked by my desire to live a brave and bold faith for the glory of our faithful God.

A new chapter is starting. Thank you for joining me on the journey, friends.



Luann Riley