It was a year of transition for my family. We packed up our comfortable life in Crawford, Texas and followed God’s call to North East Texas. Sulphur Springs in now the place we call home. In this year of transition, a few lessons have been learned and relearned. Here are a few in brief detail.
Wait on the LORD
From October 2018 to February 2019 three times a day I used Psalm 130 as a prayer. In the heart of the Psalm you find these words:
I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits,
and in his word I put my hope.
I wait for the Lord
more than watchmen wait for the morning,
more than watchmen wait for the morning.
– Psalm 130:5-6
I prayed in the context of sensing God moving us from one place to another. Those five months seemed like five years. I was anxious. I was fearful. Yet, I waited. My lovely wife waited and prayed along with me. God’s presence and his word were indeed our hope.
Wait on the LORD. He’s worth it. Believe me.
Don’t Mistake Faithfulness with Comfort
Faithfulness is not easy. Some fall victim to the lie that faithfulness is equated with the paved roads, butterflies and lollipops. Yet, this is often not the case. This is frequently not the case. After all, Jesus’ faithfulness led to a cross. Pondered that for a moment.
Leaving First Baptist Crawford was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Growing up in a military family, I never knew a place as home. I barely remember the town of my birth. My formative years included a number of moves. I graduated from high school in a town in which I lived for only a few years. In the decade I served FBC Crawford, the people of the congregation became family and the town became my home.
The kind people of that church supported me in my early years of ministry, celebrated the birth of my two kids, encouraged me through my doctoral work, partnered in the gospel, and so much more. Leaving them was a gut wrenching experience. On my last Sunday the congregation presented my family with a beautiful watercolor of the church building. It now hangs above the fireplace in our new house. I smile every time I pass it. I pray for them often.
Don’t mistake faithfulness with comfort. God is no respecter of comfort zones.
Peace When Uncomfortable
Faithfulness is not equated with the paved roads, butterflies and lollipops but faithfulness does come with peace. Things might be uncomfortable but God provides peace that transcends all understanding.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
– Philippians 4:6-7
When I asked my wife, Katie, about the lessons learned this year, the first words from her mouth were “the peace of God when things are hard.”
God’s Word Never Fails
I’ve been reading the Bible everyday since I came to faith in 2001. It has never failed to prove itself true and powerful. This year I’ve been blessed by personal study in the book of Judges and Jeremiah, continual reading of Psalm 130, and preaching through Philippians and Jonah. Plus much, much more.
For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.
– Hebrews 4:12
For the people of SSFBC, I look forward to a Bible reading emphasis in 2020. I just saw a proof of the Bible reading plan we’ll use throughout the year. I’m beyond excited!
Invest in People
Things rust, rot, and break down. Situations change. While people may fail you, they are worth the investment. People are created in the image of God and need to be treated in such a way. Surround yourself with people who invest in you and pour your life into them in return.
Over the last year, I’ve been supported, encouraged, challenged, and lifted up by scores of people. I’ve been blessed by friends, mentors, and congregation members. I pray that I’ve done the same for others. My goal in 2020 is to invest in people to a greater degree than ever before.
Family Life is Hard
While I continually desire to invest in people, I see my shortsightedness at home. I spend my waking hours serving the church and her people. Far too often I’m guilty of giving my family the leftovers. My wife and kids deserve so much more than microwaved scraps. In 2020 I commit to consistent and significant time with my wife and planned time away with my family.
Seek the Lord with All your Heart
We are familiar with Jeremiah 29:11. People often cite God’s promise to give the people of God in exile a hope and a future. I don’t want to keep you from loving that verse but I’m a raving fan of the promise a few verses later.
You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. – Jeremiah 29:13
God is not hard to find. He’s not hiding nor is he running from you. In fact, he’s in constant pursuit. If you seek him, you will indeed find him. Why wait? Seek him now.