For three years I searched for a pastoral call to no avail. One of those years I was unemployed. Two years I worked at a hardware store–good honest work, but not the work I was made for. I had thought that my time at Regent College had prepared me for ministry. I have one of the best theological educations but God had other lessons for me to learn.
I have recently accepted a call to a church in Safety Harbor, Florida. And I eagerly await what God has in this next step of my journey. The past few weeks were a whirlwind. I wrapped up my hardware store job, packed up my belongings and family and went to the land that God has shown me. My days in Blaine were wilderness years for me. I wrestled with self-doubt. I wondered did, “I really hear God’s call on my life?” “Am I really called to vocational ministry?” I applied to churches, but didn’t really find a place that ‘felt’ right.
And then I found this church and felt led to apply. They were prayerful and asked perceptive questions. When I learned more about what they were doing and their heart for the city, I became more and more enamored with them. And after a process of mutual discernment I accepted a call. The call was affirmed by a congregational vote and here I am.
I am sad to leave good, supportive friends behind but am excited about all God has for us as we seek to follow Him in Florida. I know there are giants in the land, and issues we will need to face as a family. As a pastoral leader, I know I will need to build trust and lay a lot of ground for a good transition. But I don’t officially start for a few more days. Mostly our time in Florida has been spent getting settled. I wanted to reflect on what God taught me in the waylaid in Blaine years:
- Wherever God places you, there you are–the power of place. When we got to Blaine, I had my feelers out at a couple of churches and had garnered some interest. I regarded Blaine as a temporary stop, on my way to the next-big-thing. Little did I know that I would spend over three years in that community. I didn’t leave until I made my peace with the place. I planted fruit trees. Jeremiah 29:7 says, “Seek the peace and prosperity of the city where I have carried you into exile.” It was only when I really enetered into that place and took a stake in the community that God released me for what’s next.
- Standing still in a world of hurry–the patience of a saint. We live in a high speed society. We drive fast and hate waiting in line. We want everything to happen for us right on time (or right before that). At least I do. I had to learn in my bones that my timing was not God’s timing. I wanted good things, but God had better plans for our lives. These three years were not just a pause button on my future, it was God’s plan for our lives.
- Good things come to those who wait (on God): the practice of prayer. The wilderness is a place of prayer. These past few years have been angsty and difficult. I have wondered if my education (which I’m still paying for) and vocational goals was a personal miscalculation. So I wrestled with God these years and prayed a lot. One major thing changed in me. I let go of anxiety and the necessity to ‘prove myself.’ I learned to trust God with the outcome as I continued pursue his call on my life. It took these three whole years for me to learn to trust God and not rely on my gifts, talents and resources.
Sacred time and space. I am grateful for these years of waiting. I also was blessed to have a supportive church and friends who walked alongside me. And now the next big thing: Milk and honey here we come.