Monday, June 29, 2015

Heeding a "left-field" calling

Last spring it became unexpectedly clear that Jon would transition away from his current position at church. When something unexpected happens it can bring up a slew of emotions, fears, and hopes. This was the case for us, to the point that it was difficult to put into words all the emotions, fears, and hopes that were running through our hearts and minds. Therefore, even writing this blog is a challenge yet, a significant change has occurred for our family and it is something I want to share. Also, just wanted to clarify that Jon was not fired.

It is hard to explain what it is like for my spouse to work in ministry because I’m not a seasoned veteran. Yet I am sure of a one thing, my husband’s career transitions and job search process, is different than most others. Seriously. In what other field does the employer interview the spouse? This unexpected yet clear calling by God to transition away from our church impacted our family in many capacities.

The saying goes, where one door closes another one opens…but what do you do between the one door closing and then one door opening? Initially we thought that this unexpected transition meant God providing us an opportunity to return to the motherland, Texas! Fuel was added to the fire when our house sold after only ONE day on the market! We were trilled – selling our home was one of our biggest concerns! (Thanks to God doing amazing work through our realtor team we made a small profit from the sale too!)

Family and friends rallied around us during this in-between time. I knew people were praying for us, I heard people weep with and for us, I saw people genuinely concerned for the things we were concerned about – all of which comforted us. Additionally, our church provided essential support to us, which was a beautiful thing to experience. Where there could have been strife there was peace – something that I know is not always the case in these situations.

One day during this time I was skimming the headlines on CNN – something I do often. I came across an article about California, while I cannot recall what the article was conveying, after reading the article I remember light-heartedly praying, “Thank you God that we don’t live in California and please may you keep us from ever having to live in California.” Just being honest! (I think the article was on the drought and how it is systemically affecting the quality of life in California.)

Well, months later, here I am preparing to move to California! Jon will be serving as the pastor of a church in the San Francisco area starting in late August.

God opened a door and though it was not in the location we asked him to, we are grateful for the opportunity he has provided. We are excited to work with this church.

So what would compel us to follow a calling that I believe came completely from left field? The people of course!

All along I have prayed specifically for God to lead us to a church that would value and support us just as much as we would them. I know this will be the case! Diversity was another aspect of the community that caught our attention. This day it is common for churches to claim to be diverse yet this church genuinely is diverse and is a reflection of their community – something we deeply respect and desire. Another critical aspect about this church, something that we really wrestled with, is that it sits in area of the country that is very opposed to the Gospel. Surprisingly in the end this drew us to the church. We have learned quite a bit about the community, the good and the bad, and look forward to form relationships that we pray will glorify God.

It is difficult to again leave behind family. We really were hoping that the pain of leaving Chicagoland prematurely would be eased by a long-awaited return to Texas! And yet, here we go, back out to an unknown area, and this time we are further from family. Leaving the familiar does not come without grief.  Yes, excitement too, but that is easy to talk about! On the cusp of so much change, I find these lyrics comforting.

Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior

I am reminded of the Dr. Seuss Book, Oh The Places You Will Go. I imagine God reading it to me and then asking, “Whom Shall I send” as he did to Isaiah.

Here we are, Lord. Thank you for sending us.