A New Journey

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Photo Credit: thotprovokr via Compfight cc

Like the sighting of Halley’s Comet, this update has been a long time in coming. Nearly four months ago I told you about three words that would forever change my life, and the life of my family. Since that time much has happened. And while I’ve thought often to share aloud, I never could seem to form the words.

Suffice it to say over these past few months, life has continued forward; sometimes quick and easy and other times not so much. Had you asked me at the time of resigning my pastoral ministry what I thought I’d be doing next, I in no way would have come up with a story anywhere close to what’s actually happened.

I resigned February 5. My final Sunday at the church was April 7. May 6 I started a new job at our local coffee shop. At the time I knew this new opportunity wouldn’t be enough to pay the bills, yet it seemed right. From the moment I stepped around to the other side of the counter as a new employee, I knew this opportunity was God inspired. Functionally speaking I now had a job again. Beyond that however, I knew God was and is allowing me an opportunity where I can be in the thick of community. Then on June 10 I became the newest team member of the Brethren Church National Office staff, accepting a part-time position as Leadership Development Coordinator.

Without sounding too dramatic, this was the “thing” that I had resigned for; although at the time we weren’t even aware such an opportunity existed. I can only scratch the surface of imagining what our daily lives must look like to a God who is omniscient. All that we were unable to see in the moment of our current life situation, He’d already seen. He was leading us, and we were doing our level best to follow.

I remember when I accepted the position with the Brethren Office, thinking to myself, “this isn’t the end, it’s the beginning of a new journey.” It would have been easy for me to have considered all that we’d gone through, in a few short months, to get to this point, and to have considered ourselves finally having arrived. But we knew, my wife and I, that this was where the real work starts. This is where the story turns a page. And very much like the moment I resigned, or accepted the job at the coffee shop, I don’t have but the smallest glimpse of what will come next. However, I continue to remain resolute in the truth that I don’t have to know, because I have put my full stock in the God who’s already seen it all. He knows what’s to come, and that’s good enough for me.

So as we continue pressing forward into the future God is scripting for us, I leave you with an anthem of sorts…

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Three Words

the_end“I am done.”

Three words that cut through the air like a crack of lighting ripping through a Mid-western summer sky. The weight those words hold is nothing short of immense, yet in the same moment, they seem as light as air.

It has been a little over a month since I first uttered those three words, which forever changed the course of my history. I have started many times to try and put words to the reality of which I’m now living, and time after time I’ve come up empty with exactly what to say. You see, it was with great peace and confidence that I was being led; dare I say called to quit my job. A job that provided a great deal of comfort and security for me and my family.

I have been, for the past thirteen years, a youth pastor, loyal to a single church, called not to a job, but to a life of service to teenagers. That is until the call no longer came in one winter day. That morning I woke up as usual, but in an instant, the length of time it took me to silence my alarm, I knew I would be quitting my job. It wasn’t quite as sudden as it may sound. The truth is God had been applying great amounts of molding pressure to my heart for quite some time. And the more I sought his will, his plan, his purpose… the more I realized this day would eventually come and I’d be released from my present calling, only to be ready to receive the new call for my life.

The quirky tidbit in the storyline is that while God in fact did remove one call on my life, he hasn’t yet replaced it with a new one. That’s not to say that I don’t fully believe he will; he simply hasn’t yet.

As word of my resignation spread, the inevitable questions about what’s next began to surface. Each time, I honestly had to say that I wasn’t sure; God hadn’t yet revealed his next steps. Interestingly, through the whole of this process, my wife and I have been both on the same page (that’s important), and oddly at peace (also important). The reality of the situation we’re in is that what we are doing doesn’t honestly make sense; outside of God’s economy. No one willfully quits their job, the job that is the primary financial means for their family, without having a back up plan locked in place. And by back up plan, we all know it’s supposed to be something bigger and better. Why else quit if it’s not?

Yet here we are, without any sort of back up plan. No bright white Dave Ramsey envelope tucked safely in the center desk drawer. Rather I feel very much like what it may have felt like for those who experienced the scene that took place in Joshua 3. I feel as though we’re at the edge of the Jordan River and we’ve just been told that once we step foot in the water, God will stop up the current and we’ll cross on dry land. It’s a great promise to be sure, but difficult to believe fully when looking out at the water rushing by. None the less, the priests caring the Ark had faith enough in the word of the Lord and followed through with what they were told. The result?

17 The priests who carried the ark of the covenant of the Lord stopped in the middle of the Jordan and stood on dry ground, while all Israel passed by until the whole nation had completed the crossing on dry ground.

God made good! It’s right there in black and white. While I don’t yet know what God has in store for us; what the next chapter of our story is to be. I do know that he’s faithful and true and will provide for us the space to live out whatever the next chapter is. I can’t explain, except for the grace and wonder of God, how we are at such peace in the midst of such uncertainty, but we are. I don’t know what will happen a month from now if nothing’s changed and I’ve drawn my final pay check. But this much I know. I’m a child of the King of kings and the Lord of lords and while I call him Father, he calls me his own. The care he displays for me is greater than the care he shows over the lilies of the field and look how they flourish. I trust that as he knew me intimately well in my mother’s womb, he knows what’s next and he is the God who goes before me. I trust him because I have nothing else strong enough to trust. I hold tight to him because he’s the only thing which is unmovable. I cry out to him for he’s the only one who can interpret and understand the groans of my soul.

With everything that is in me, I completely believe that this is not the end, no it isn’t.

Family Time

Enjoying a bit of family time this week as we get away for a week of vacation. It’s much needed, as upon returning home after the 4th holiday, it’ll be time to shift gears and ready ourselves for youth conference… and get a bit of laundry taken care of too. Following our time at youth conference, life returns to a more normal pace, and then, I think we can catch our breath. Just in time to get ready to send the little one off to the wilds of Kindergarten. My oh my, where has the time gone?

Great Is The Need

I did something today, that in my 34-years of life, I’ve never experienced. Today I walked into one of our local elementary schools, signed my name in the visitors book, and was introduced to a third grade boy who has been selected to be my mentee. I knew that when I awoke this morning, that come noon today this would be my journey. I was a bit nervous. I’ve mentored plenty of times before, but those experiences were with teenagers. They were within my comfort zone. I readily confess to any who care to listen that, “I don’t do kids.” I’m rather matter of fact about it. As much as I love working with teenagers, children are an altogether different matter. So when our church entered into a mentoring partnership with the school I thought this ought to be something I at least check into.

Fast forward several weeks, and here I am, walking through the lunch line with my mentee leading the way. For an hour we ate and worked through the list of basic get-to-know-you questions. By the end of the hour, we were talking freely, laughing over Connect Four and already dreaming about what next week would bring.

As we carried on, at the infant stages of a new relationship, I could not help but feel the pings of pain; the kind that settle deep in ones heart when they hear and see the stark reality of neglect. As I listened to my mentee share about his life, what was missing in his stories were the stories of his parent’s involvement in his life. Sure he mentioned mom and dad, but not near as much as he mentioned his PS3, Wii, DS, and PS2.

These things do not a suitable substitute make. It’s hard not to judge, not to get angry, not to want to scream at the top of my lungs. No doubt my frustration comes from having seen over and over again the sort of future destined for my mentee if something in his life doesn’t change.

And then I realize that maybe God has given me this opportunity to enact some sort of change. Quite honestly, this is not the sort of situation I would willing go looking for. It had to be God-ordained. It is God-ordained. My prayer is that in my hour once a week I’ll be a change-agent for my new friend. Can I ask you to join me in that prayer?