It’s been about 6 months now.
About 6 months ago, the rug was yanked out from under me and my family and our world blew up in our faces. We had moved to Nashville in October of 2017 for me to pastor a church here. Upon our arrival and surveying the life of the church, it became apparent that new vision was needed, new life and a fresh, deep breath of air had to happen.
So about 6 months in, I cast a vision for the elders and the church to relocate and replant the church. The vision was not received well and, for the next few months, the elders and I debated it and prayed about it. In the end, they voted unanimously to relocate and replant the church. We announced it to the body and set a tentative date for moving.
And that’s when things blew up.
I didn’t see it coming. I should have. I mean, I had spent almost my entire adult life seeing and anticipating danger and reacting to it. But I didn’t see this one coming. One by one, the members of the church either just quietly stopped communicating or announced to me that they were leaving and would not go along to be part of the re-plant. I was shocked. I felt like I had been gutted and left bleeding on the floor.
There are many details to the story that will go unshared but suffice it to say, it was excruciatingly painful for me and my family. There were some that remained but very few, not enough to have a core team for a new plant. The elders met with me to inform me that they were giving me a severance and then they too walked away.
The last 6 months have been excruciating for my family. I cannot count the tears, the angry prayers, the sleepless nights. Praise God for those who have continued to love us and support us during this time. Praise God for a godly counselor who has helped us work through the emotional devastation that has come from this.
But now, I find myself at a crossroads. And, for the first time in my life, I don’t have a plan. I don’t know what to do. I knew, for 16 years, what I was doing and going to do as a police officer and I had a plan. I knew as a business owner what I was doing and going to do. I knew as a pastor and church planter what I was going to do and I believed with every fiber of my being the vision that God had placed before me.
But now I don’t know.
Being in the unknown is not comfortable for me. The lack of confidence I feel is unlike anything I’ve ever known and has and is impacting every aspect of my life. The unknown is uncomfortable. We are a people who want to know.
But we really don’t know, do we? We have our plans and our dreams. Sometimes those plans come through and sometimes our dreams come true. But sometimes they don’t. Maybe this is you right now. Maybe you’re like me and you’re standing at a crossroads and you don’t know where to go or what to do. If you’re like me in this, I want to offer you some comfort. At least, these are two things that have comforted me. One of the things about confessions and creeds of the Church is that, like Scripture, they answer many questions for us.
The Heidelberg Catechism begins,
“What is thy only comfort in life or death?”
The answer: “That I with body and soul, both in life and death, am not my own, but belong unto my faithful Savior Jesus Christ; who, with His precious blood, hath fully satisfied for all my sins, and delivered me from all the power of the devil; and so preserves me that without the will of my heavenly Father, not a hair can fall from my head; yea, that all things must be subservient to my salvation; and therefore, by His Holy Spirit, He also assures me of eternal life, and makes me sincerely willing and ready, henceforth, to live unto Him.”
What unspeakable comfort this brings to me! I am not my own but belong to my Saviour Jesus Christ. Not only do I belong to Him but He is faithful and He has, by His blood, justified me and restored me to a right relationship with God the Father. He has defeated the power of Satan and will preserve me unto eternal life and indeed, makes me willing and ready to live unto Him!
What comfort and joy and hope this gives those who are in Christ!
The second thing I want to point out that has brought me comfort is from the prophet Hosea. Hosea 6:1 reads,
“”Come, let us return to the LORD; for he has torn us, that he may heal us; he has struck us down, and he will bind us up.””
Right about now you may be thinking, ‘How is it comforting to know that God has torn me and struck me down?’ I have thought the very same thing my friend! Why has God allowed this to happen? Couldn’t He have stopped all this pain? Why didn’t He stop it?
Truth is I don’t know why. I don’t know why God allowed this to happen to us, why He didn’t stop it. I don’t know what’s next. I don’t know why God allowed to happen to you what happened and I don’t know why He didn’t stop it.
But what I do know is that, if we will turn to Him in faith, He will heal. If we turn to Him, He will bind us up. This is His promise to us; that He will not turn away from those who seek Him. That doesn’t mean that we won’t have pain and discomfort. It doesn’t mean that He’s going to help me find a job and another purpose. But what it does mean for me and for you is this:
He will heal. He has promised.
Let us, together, turn to our only comfort in life and death; that we belong body and soul to our Lord Jesus Christ!
Soli Deo Gloria!