In June of 2002, I moved to Goshen, IN. I was not married. I didn't have kids. I had no grey hair. Honestly, I didn't have much, except rock solid abs and python strong biceps ... OK, I didn't even have those. :) Everything I owned I was able to fit in to the back of one of my seminary professor's s10 Chevy pickup. One thing I did have, though, was a desire to be in ministry and hopefully be used by God. So, in June 2002, I started serving as the youth pastor at Grace Community Church in Goshen. I also worked part-time cleaning at a local bakery, which I'm pretty sure contributed to me NOT having the rock solid abs.
Since that time I have married Carol ... a woman completely out of my league ... the most beautiful, tender-hearted, supportive woman around. I have had 4 fun, beautiful, and energetic children, Ezra, Mercy, Torah, and Judah, who have completely changed my life. I have survived cancer. I have lost nearly 70 pounds. I have seen Jesus' church in Goshen grow and make an impact all around the world. I have seen teenagers and adults do some of the most amazingly sacrificial things ever! I have run 3 marathons and 3 half marathons. Carol and I have had teenagers live with us. We've been "tp'd" more times than I can count. We've been robbed. I discovered Starbucks. All of my hair is grey! I have laughed with people. I have cried with people. I have developed some life-long friendships. I have made some horrendous mistakes and have also experienced some incredible victories. I have truly experienced the grace of God first hand and have been shown outpourings of generosity.
When I moved here in 2002, I had no idea what to expect, but I believed God was beginning another chapter in my life. I believe God loves to write stories, not just in the pages of the Bible, but also in the pages of our lives. In June 2002, God grabbed His pen and began writing some new pages in my life. I had no idea what would happen with the turn of each page, but I believe I can honestly say that God has shaped me in to a better man. I am a better person because of my time in Goshen, Indiana, and at Grace Community Church.
Late last year I felt like God was stirring something in my heart ... like He was leading me to something different ... something new. I wasn't exactly sure what to make of it all, but after spending extended time in prayer and trying to listen to Him, I felt confident that God was desiring to start a new chapter in my life and in the life of my family. To make a long story short, that next chapter will be in Fulton, MD, at a church called Grace Community.
Transitioning is difficult. It's such a mix of emotions. On one hand, I can't wait to start the journey. I'm excited about all the next steps and the new relationships and the new possibilities that lie ahead. I'm thrilled to be serving at an amazing church that has a great reputation in the community. I can't wait to laugh with people and cry with people and hopefully do all I can to point people the same Jesus that has completely changed my life. It's a new and fresh start and I couldn't be more excited. On the other hand, leaving is hard. Wow, is it hard. Goshen is all my family has ever known. Our years as a family have been forged in Goshen, IN. We have developed some incredible relationships. We have 12 years of credibility built up in this church and our community. We are very comfortable here. Leaving all of this and stepping in to the unknown ... it's difficult to say the least.
In my mind I have conversations that sound like this: "What if you fail?" "What if you bomb?" "What if your kids don't adjust to being moved 10 hours away?" "What if it's more difficult for you to build friendships?" "What if you can't figure out how to live in the fourth most populated part of the country?" What if? What if? What if? You fill in the blank and I've probably thought it. Fears are fillers. The more we allow fear to fill us, the less room we leave for God to fill us, which is exactly what the enemy wants. But, when I allow God to fill me ... when I focus on Him and His greatness and His power, everything else becomes small in comparison. It doesn't mean I still don't have fear. It simply means I choose to believe God because "the Lord my God is with me wherever I shall go."
One small verse in Mark 5:36 has come to mean so much to me through this whole process. There were some people who were afraid that Jesus wouldn't do what He was more than capable of doing. Mark 5:36 says, "Overhearing what they said, Jesus told them, 'Don't be afraid; just believe.'" I can hear Jesus saying the same thing to me. He has heard the conversations I have had with myself ... those "What if" conversations. And, I can hear Jesus saying "Don't be afraid. Just believe."
I don't necessarily know what lies ahead, but I know that God has His pen out again and He's ready to start another chapter in my life and in the life of my family. I can't wait for Him to start. In fact, He already has. I am choosing to believe.