Pals

Billy the Kid called them “pals” in that cinematic masterpiece known as “Young Guns.” I just call them “friends.”

They are easy to take for granted, and dang hard to make. Forged through trials, struggles, joys and sorrows, friends are a gift.

You spend years unknowingly knitting and weaving your lives together, sharing birthday cake and childcare, shedding tears and passing outgrown kids clothing off to each other. You can pick up the phone and seek an impromptu babysitter, and offer to return that favor in kind.

They’re there whenever you need them, and you try to reciprocate. You outdo one another in doing good to one another. The guys share tools and help fix each other’s fixer uppers, the ladies swap stories and help fix each other’s hearts.

Hearts…the ultimate fixer uppers.

Then one of you ups and moves halfway across the continent and screws up the entire scenario. Jobs can be found. Houses fixed up. Streets are learned and the best places to eat located.

But in the background, like that app on your laptop that you can’t ever shut off, there’s a reminder that something…no, SOMEONE is missing. While you can text them and call them, tweet them and FaceTime them, you can’t simply drop the kids off on a moments notice. You can’t run over and share a cup of coffee and tears, or borrow a cup of sugar.

Your kids, who probably thought they were truly related to each other, now see each other’s faces only via a screen. Distance bridged by technology’s blessing, but also a wicked curse…cause they know they’re drifting further and further apart.

Cause it doesn’t stay the same. I don’t have the heart to tell my kiddos that, but it just doesn’t. People change. They go on.

We’ll go on.

Eventually.

I know what my kids don’t…new friends will come. With time. With tears. With joy. Sorrow. Days. Weeks. Months. Years.

They’ll come. And we’ll go.

We’ll never forget those friends we love so deeply. How could we? And with some, a precious few, we will pick up from time to time, when schedules and travel allows, to laugh and cry and drink coffee and watch our kids play again.

But for most…the chapters are written and put in the book. The memories made and iNstagrammed.

Now the work begins. Now life goes on. What was “easy” is now necessity, work, effort. Like Adam and Eve tilling the ground post-fruit biting incident, nothing is easy when you start over.

Trust must be built, wisdom weighed, love expressed and walked out.

And it will be.

In time.

How much time?

Probably longer than you expect. Definitely longer than you wish.

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Bitterness or Brokenness?

Neither one is pleasant. Neither is enjoyable. Both carry hurt with them.

The difference (and oh what a great difference it is! ) being we run from one and embrace the other, to our own destruction.

One is fueled by pride and ego, the other is grown in the fertile ground of humility, softened by tears. One puffs up, the other bows down. One is death, one is life.

How quickly we run to the power of bitterness! How quickly we turn our cheek away in anger and respond with the word, or even the fist (whether physically, or far more often, digitally)! How quickly we can point out the speck in another’s eye, often wielding scripture as the tool of speck removal, while ignoring the fact that the very same scripture seeks to pierce our own soul.

How hard it is to see with the plank in our own eyes! All of us, staggering around in our bitterness, speaking hate and anger, instead of the one thing we’re supposed to be known for: love! Where is Love? Where has she gone?

When did we become the Pharisees?

Oh, we’re so sure God is on our side, but so were the Pharisees and scribes! And though God-in-the-flesh stood before them, they couldn’t see past the plank of their own righteousness, the plank of their own way. They missed the fulfillment of the law they claimed to know so well. Shouldn’t that be a glaring “wait a second” to us? We with our head knowledge that has never pierced the scaly walls of our hearts?

Forgive us, Lord, for we have known about You, yet we don’t know You at all.

I think most of the time we choose bitterness instead of brokenness because it hurts to be humble. Brokenness requires we suffer wrong. Brokenness requires we lay down our rights, real or perceived. Brokenness requires we admit we don’t have it all together, and that we’ve missed the mark. Brokenness requires an acknowledgment of and confession of our own sin, of the plank in our eyes.

Who wants that?! How much easier to hide behind the walls we build around our hearts and lob missiles at those who approach! How much easier to climb on the high horse of bitterness and trample down those who we deem in opposition to us! How much easier to ascend to our virtual pulpit and deliver passive-aggressive memes about others!

I’ll let Paul’s words to the Philippians speak:

“Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

Every week we lift up the bread and we proclaim this truth: He was broken for us. He wasn’t broken so we could stew in bitterness, so that we could be right all the time, so that we could become the 21st Century Pharisees.  No, Jesus was broken for us, in our place, to free us from sin and to free us to follow Him.  His death and resurrection free us to lay our lives down in the love and service of others.

He was broken in love that we might be broken by His love, and in that brokenness find the life we lost at the Fall, a life spent in the love and service of God, loving and serving those He puts in our lives.

How can we do that if we’re bound up in bitterness?

I write these things not as a condemnation of anyone, but as the battle I see in my own heart.  I want to choose brokenness before Jesus, not bitterness.

The Year that Was and Is to Come

Happy New Year from my crew to you! I’m sure I’m not alone when I ask, “How in the world can it be 2018 already?” (Insert cliche’ regarding time passing here: What a difference a year makes, right?

One year ago we were staying at my parent’s house in North Carolina, having moved all our worldly belongings into storage in anticipation of the sale of our home.

Home.  That’s a word that would take on powerful new meanings for us over the course of the year.  But I digress.

We had no idea what was to come on the heels of that sale, how drastically our lives would change, and what the year-that-was-2017 would hold.

I can’t speak for Amanda but had I known, I’m pretty sure you’d have seen me running screaming from the room.

I’m so glad I didn’t know. In the midst of all the questions, loss, hurt, and fear, Jesus captured our hearts again.

We didn’t even know we had gone missing.  But Jesus, the Good Shepherd, set out to find the two lambs who had somehow escaped the fold. He came on all the more,  tracking us all the way to the Midwest, to an old church building, to a pew in the balcony where He met us, week after week, and brought us back the fold, back to His family.

We were, quite simply, being changed by the power and truth of the Gospel.  I realized it was ok to admit I didn’t have it all together, that I was still a man in desperate need of a Savior.  I saw my wife reborn in the midst of all the loss of home, friends, and family like a phoenix rising from the ashes.  All the time I had missed in my kids’ lives began to be restored like locust years.

We began to see that somehow we missed the truth that Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection are everything.  We came to see how the Gospel proves He loves us more than we could ever imagine, not because we serve Him, or because we continually do more for Him, but simply because He is love.  2017 will forever remain as the year my heart was pursued and captured by the overwhelming love of Jesus.

Crazy that I had to quit being a pastor for that to happen.

Now I look ahead to 2018 with eagerness and hope. As one of our pastors said yesterday, the same God that carried us through every part of 2017 has already gone before us into 2018. I don’t know about you, but I find such peace comfort in the knowledge that He is Emmanuel, God-with-us, 365 days a year, not just at Christmas.

So as we each step into this fresh, new year, I offer this prayer:
Whatever this year may hold,  may we be drawn into a deeper walk with Jesus than ever before. May we repent often, forgive much and love even more. May we seek the place He has for us in His body, the church, as we also seek the peace of the cities where He has called each of us.
And whatever we do, may we do it for His glory and fame.

About That New Thing

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We set out on a journey, called by Jesus to go! We set out, like Abraham, not knowing where we were going. We set out in faith, the evidence of things not seen. Blind faith, many would (and did) call it. We set out clinging to the promises we saw in Scripture, these ancient words that live, that shape, that guide.

We set out thinking we had a physical destination to find, and a destiny to manifest there. We set out knowing big things were in store. Everyone said it! It must be true!

“God has big things for you!”

Indeed…huge things. Massive things.

Just not things you thought.

“What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him,” 1 Cor. 2:9

That includes what my mind and your’s think is best or fitting.

I never imagined what He had in store, but just like He met Saul along the way, he met us. Boom! Blinded by the light of the Gospel! Knocked off our horses and onto our knees before Him.

He had Himself in store for us.

Who are You, Lord?

Jesus. Jesus. Jesus.

Lord of life.

Savior.

King.

Redeemer.

The One we thought we knew. The One we claimed to serve. And yet, like Saul, we were so bound up in serving God that we pushed Him to the sidelines.

And we never knew it, until He Damascus-road-ed us from dark to light.

He is love, that Jesus who met us in that prison of Phariseeism. This idea that to follow Him meant you had to do more, be more, learn more. Do do do, more more more! It’s a trap that those who began well so often find themselves finishing in. We miss Him in the doing.

Until He shows up.

And boy did He ever show up.

“Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?!”

Yes, Jesus. We perceive it…now.

Speaking of a new thing, she went down into the water Sunday. She went down carrying with her all the hurt, bitterness, loss, pain and change of the past. She didn’t carry it alone. Jesus was with her. He was waiting for her there, waiting for those burdens to fall off her shoulders and onto His.

Because He died for those sins, too.

She went down into that water with eyes full of tears.  No tears of sadness, but tears of joy.  She went down into that water and came up soaking wet and smiling the most beautiful smile you’ve ever seen, an outward picture of what Jesus had already done in her heart.

And is still doing.

A new thing.

So do your new thing in us, Jesus. Bring to competition this heart work that changes the way our feet move, where they go, what they carry.

Let us carry You, the light, to a dark world.

Looking Back While Looking Ahead

At this time of year, a switch flips in our hearts causing us take time to reflect back on all the events of the past twelve months. This year, I think I have been, and will be, spending even more time than usual pondering all that 2017 held.  Well, more like the last 18 months, because everything we went through in 2017 was brought on by the events of mid-2016.  And what a long, strange trip it has been.

While there are many things I could write on, as I look back here at the beginning of December, these things stick out most:

The blessing of a spouse – Trying to put words on the page to adequately describe how amazing Amanda has been on this journey would be impossible. She has stood by me, prayed with me, prayed FOR me, sought the Lord’s will, encouraged me when I faltered, and was willing to set her own desires aside for what God was calling us to. Seeing her grow in love for Jesus as the days went by, in the midst of some really hard things, has been such a joy to me. Babe, He has indeed done a new thing, in us both!

The blessing of time –  No matter how much time you have, it’s never enough.  I was without a regular job for 11 months, and it flew by like a finger snap.  While we were able to do a lot of things as a family, there were more things left undone than I’d care to admit.  Make the most of the days you have, whatever they may hold.  They’ll pass you by all too quickly.

The blessing of generosity – We were amazed by the generosity of others time and time again this year.  My sister and her husband opening their home to us, completely without time limit or caveat…well, I could never say enough about that.  Their willingness to come alongside us and give us the space to seek the Lord’s will, to simply wait on Him, was one of the greatest gifts I’ve ever been given.  Others gave their ear, their money, their time to encourage and help us out, with little if anything promised in return.  Grateful doesn’t even begin to cover it.

The blessing of friends –  The band Cinderella had a hit in the 80’s with the title “Don’t Know What You Got ’til It’s Gone”, and that could have been one of my theme songs this year.  While I always knew I was blessed to have some amazing friends, I know I didn’t fully appreciate that until I could no longer see them each week.  Whether scarfing down tacos, getting deep over coffee, serving together at church, or simply having our families hang together for a meal, the friend’s we left behind in NC are greatly missed.  Those deep friendships take time, they take investment on the part of both parties, and they can never be replaced.  While we are so thankful for the new friendships that are in bloom here, we will never forget those friends back home.

The blessing of having great Tex-Mex anytime you want it – I’m a simple man, and one of my greatest pleasures in life is good Mexican food.  I’m thankful God moved us to a state that has incredible Tex-Mex on nearly every corner.  Also thankful that I have a physical job to offset the effects of said Tex-Mex.  To all my Taco-Tuesday brothers, y’all need to do a road trip.

The blessing of our church –  Though every single aspect of our life was uprooted and unclear for most of this year, we are so very thankful that the one thing that was clear from the get-go:  where we were going to go to church.  That’s the ONLY thing we knew!  And week after week, the Holy Spirit has been speaking to us, convicting us, healing us.  From coffee with a pastor, text messages, community group, emails and the service on Sunday, God has used Frontline in a major way in our lives.  So, so grateful.

And last, but most assuredly not least….

The blessing of brokenness – I charged into 2017 convinced that I was going to be back in ministry quickly.  I just knew it was coming, and I pronounced myself ready to tackle the next task.  Little did I know that this year was going to be a “Sabbath” year of rest physically, with the bulk of the work done of a spiritual kind.  This year, the Lord has been working overtime on my own heart and soul.  Undone is probably the best way to describe it, as the sinfulness and fleshy-ness of my own heart was shown to me.  But in this brokenness, as all the dead wood in my heart began to get cleared away, the Gospel of Jesus began to find fresh soil to take root in.

I don’t have the years of ministry that many others have had, but I know a few things from my time as a pastor.  One of the things that I’d wager every pastor struggles with, but few feel they have the ability to acknowledge, is that we don’t have it all together.  It’s subtle, but it’s there, and it’s powerful.  The feeling/belief/conviction that we have to be stronger than you, that we have to be perfect, that we have to have all the answers, that we have to fix every situation, that we…that we…there is a burden there that can crush a man’s soul.

It nearly crushed mine.  And I was just a worship pastor.

The result of it is we seldom let others in, we seldom confess our sins for fear that it disqualifies us and that we have to “protect the sheep”, forgetting all along that the only One who is perfect and without sin is Jesus, forgetting that the sheep are His and not ours, and the fact that pastors are sheep, too.  We don’t mean to do this, mind you, but it happens.  We are just as broken as you are, but we don’t feel like we can admit it.

So the result is we fall into a works-based righteousness, we diminish the Gospel in our lives, if not our words, and we make ministry an idol from which we get our identity.  Ministry for Jesus becomes the defining aspect of our lives instead of Jesus alone.

This hurts to write, but it’s the truth.  And it took me several months of being out of ministry to realize it had happened to me.  In my heart, my identity was wrapped up in what I did for Jesus, not what He did for me.  I served at church a lot.  We had multiple weekend services, weeknight bible studies, small groups, etc.  I led worship just about every day…and I know now that I was missing Jesus in the midst of it all.  How is that possible, you might ask.  Trust me, it happens.  More than you realize.  In telling others of their need for Jesus it’s easy to forget you need Him, too.

So the hardest part of all this journey is also the sweetest part:  the soul-work the Holy Spirit has been doing on Amanda and I.  Do you know how crazy it is to realize that every bit of this was about Jesus drawing us nearer to Him, and that He had to use a complete revamping of our lives in every way in order to get us to that point?  That’s humbling, because I know my own hard heart is a big part of that, but also so incredibly encouraging.  How is this encouraging?  Well, because the God who left the glory of heaven to be born as a baby in a smelly barn grew into a man, and gave His life as a ransom for our sins…this same Jesus will spare nothing in reaching our cold, hard hearts.  He still comes for us.  He still seeks us, pursues us, draws us.  He will spare nothing to reach us.

As a good friend of mine recently reminded me, we are all mid-story, wherever we are in life.  God’s not done (though the end has been written, and it’s glorious!), and He’s still working.  I think Amanda and I were expecting the “next thing” to be “THE thing”, when in fact, it’s just another part on the journey, another page in the chapter.  He’s not finished with us, or with you.  Let Him peel back the stuff of life that’s keeping you from Him, painful as it may be.  Trust Him that in the letting go, you’ll truly find what you need so deeply….Jesus.

One More Push

Life has been crazy!  I started this blog post a month and a half ago and I’m finally getting around to finishing it!  I pray it’s an encouragement for anyone reading.

Thankfully, all three of my deliveries were fairly easy ones.  Other than having a couple of somersault babies that wanted to flip in the opposite direction and a c-section that ended up happening a little earlier than planned, my labor and deliveries were pretty typical.  And for that I’m extremely thankful!  Unfortunately, I know that’s not always the case.  There are many women, a few very dear to my heart, who have experienced much more difficult pregnancies and births.  My heart aches for them and the pain they have endured.  Although I don’t know exactly what they’ve experienced,  I do feel like the last couple of months were a season I could liken to some of the general pregnancy woes.

It was my reading in Isaiah 37 several weeks back that really resonated with me.   King Hezekiah summed it up really well when he said, “today is a day of trouble, insults, and disgrace.  It is like when a child is ready to be born, but the mother has no strength to deliver the baby”  (verse 3, NLT).  Yes, yes, yes!!!

I. WAS. EXHAUSTED.  It had been 15 months, since I first heard the words, “take your family and move.”  Our “Limbo Living” had been an emotional tug of war, mental battle, and physically draining experience.  As a wife, a mom, and a woman, I was longing for stability and security but those 15 months had been nothing but the exact opposite:  upheavel in every direction.

With Matt starting a new job finally, FINALLY, there seemed to be motion stirring instead of just sitting still!  You would have thought I would have been raring to go, but instead I found myself completely overwhelmed.  As I was waiting for the next season to be “birthed” I was finding that I had little energy left to give.  Forget pushing!  It felt like I was trying to drag myself through a heap of sludge and my brain felt like complete mush.

Now listen, I know all the good Christian answers.  “When we are weak, He is strong.  He never changes.  He loves me no matter what”.  I get it, I get it….yes, all of that is true.  In fact, I believe all of those things!  Yet in the in-between space, the wilderness if you will, the struggle is real!!!  It’s the hardest when you know The Lord has called you out, told you to move and go but still the end is far from clear.  There are glimmers of what’s to come but there’s still a whole lot of uncertainty and questions.  And in the midst of that uncertainty isn’t it just like the enemy to stir up “trouble, insults, and disgrace” when you’re in that wilderness place?  When you’re weak, weary and barely holding on?  Stupid devil!!!

But in that final push, I really think The Lord allowed me to see MY need for The Gospel.   Even though I’ve been following Him for many years now, He’s reminded me how I need The Gospel every single day, every minute of the day!  He was calling me to reflect on His sacrifice often, to be broken over my sinful flesh, and be challenged to keep Jesus the main thing.  I mess it up every single day, multiple times a day – needing Him all the more!  It should be a revolving door of brokenness, repenting, and turning back to Him, yet so often I think we look at our salvation as a “once and done” event.

He also reminded me the necessity of having others around me to point me to Him.  Being a more introverted person I’m perfectly fine cocooning and living life as a hermit.  (I know, not the healthiest way to live!)  Yet He’s called me to live a transparent life connected with others.  In fact, community is vital.  Since our move to OK, being 1200 miles away from “my people” I’ve often felt disjointed and alone … causing me to retreat all the more, but God in His mercy and grace led us to one of our church’s community groups that met in our area.  These people have welcomed us in and offered a safe, encouraging place to voice our struggles.

It was at one of our first C-groups when the flood gates broke wide open for me.  It had been such a discouraging and difficult day.  As I sat there that night, still really new to the group, listening to prayer requests and serious situations that needed God’s intervention, I hesitated to speak up.  After all, we had a roof over our heads and warm beds to sleep in because of the generosity of wonderful family members.  We were clothed and well fed.  Why should I be complaining?!  But my dear husband realized the toll this season was taking on me.  He spoke up first and opened the door for me to share.  From there, it was an avalanche of emotions and tears.  The encouragement and support from these new friends was a blessing and a reminder to keep looking to Him.

Later that evening, Matt told me he’d pack us up and move us back to NC, I just needed to say the word.  But I knew, that was not the answer.  We were to stay the course… keep pushing and pressing forward.  As hard as it’s been, I know this is what God has called us to.  He’s stretching and growing us and I don’t want to revert back.  He’s brought us so far – literally and spiritually!

Wouldn’t you know it, it was the very next week, I had the keys to our rental house in my hand, I was writing a check for our first month’s rent, and Matt was flying back to NC to load and haul our stuff to OK.  Our official move-in day was October 1st!  Thank You, Jesus!!  I’m overwhelmed at God’s goodness!!!

So, all of that to say, if you’re in a difficult or wilderness place right now – God loves you!  He hasn’t forgotten you even though it might feel like He’s far away.  Keep leaning into Him, surround yourself with some faith warriors you can be real, honest, and open with, and think often upon The Gospel of Jesus!!!  More often than not, the plans He has for us look nothing like what we envision.  Just remember, He’s trying to make us more like Him.  Life is hard and messy but His yoke is easy and His burden is light!  Keep pushing ahead dear friends!

Connecting Dots


Just a few weeks ago, I took the pic above when I found myself sitting in a blue and orange tin can, flying 400 mph through the atmosphere, 40,000 feet above the soil of America.  Below me, the Blue Ridge mountains came rolling in like waves on the ocean.  Behind me, the great midsection of our country sprawled west toward the Rockies and, more meaningfully to me, toward my wife and kids back in Oklahoma City.

Ahead of me lay Raleigh, the city I never thought I’d leave, and the prospects of a 26 foot rental truck soon to be crammed to the roof with all our worldly belongings.  After 11 months of waiting, after 9 months of “living in tents”, I was on my way to bring the things that make a house a home across 1200 miles to my family.

It’s hard to believe the day had come.  I found myself tempted to ask the nice lady next to me on the plane to pinch me…but decided that might stir up a confrontation with the Air Marshall, and who needed that?

After all that time spent waiting and praying, the ball started rolling really quick.  Three weeks prior to this trip, I was still jobless, and we were struggling mightily to understand why God brought us out of all we knew and loved and into a completely new place.  I was personally in the throes of doubt and despair.  I was tempted to throw in the towel, load up the cars, and head back.

What was going on?  Had I really heard from God?  Was I really supposed to step down from my position as worship pastor, sell our home, and move halfway across the country?  Did any of this make sense to anyone?  Hello?  God?  Can you hear me?  Are you listening?

That despair reached a fever pitch one Wednesday night/Thursday morning.  Sometime in the middle of that night, I awoke and couldn’t go back to sleep.  I tossed and turned for a while, resisted the urge to turn on my iPhone, and finally began to pray.  “Lord, how long?  I’ve tried the best I know to be obedient to the call You issued.  We’ve left it all, gone west, and have waited (for what seemed like a lot longer than it was).  Can you please do something?  Can you please give me the next step?  Just the next step Lord.   That’s all I need.”

And I fell back asleep.  I awoke and started going through the motions of another day.

And then, I got a phone call.

It happened as I was on my way out the door to have lunch with one of our pastors.  I have to say how thankful I am for our church, Frontline, and how the leaders there have come alongside us, encouraged us, and poured into us on this journey.  I really can’t say enough about them, and how God has used them in our lives…but I digress.

The phone call was from a friend of mine with whom I had linked up with when we moved back in April.  Through a mutual friend in NC, we met years ago and had been reintroduced to one another all the way out in Oklahoma.  This was also the same friend who hired me to do some carpentry work on his house.  When I answered, Jason asked me what I was doing.  I told him I was heading to lunch with one of our pastors.  He said he didn’t want to keep me, but he wanted to know if I’d be interested in going to work for his company.

Say WHAT????

I was taken aback, pretty much like I’d been punched in the gut. Could this be happening?  Really?  I knew that Jason, who was hesitant to ask me to do work on his house for fear of getting in the way of what God was doing in our lives, wouldn’t ask me this question without some serious prayer first.  So, after composing myself, I asked him if I could call him back later to talk more,  then I hung up and headed out the door to meet our pastor, feeling pretty dazed and confused.

Chad and I met at a local Mexican restaurant (I know…what a shocker), and sat down to good food and good conversation.  Though he had been at our church for a few months and I’d heard him preach several times, this was the first time we had met.  Some mutual friends said we needed to get together and talk, which precipitated our meeting that day.  I decided not to mention the job offer, and just see where our conversation headed.

It was a great time of good food, but of even better conversation.  Ironically, we both had just moved back to Yukon, our childhood hometown, after being led by the Holy Spirit from positions in our respective churches and being called out to something else.  The big difference being Chad knew he was called back to plant a church, while I still didn’t know what God had called us here for, besides the very clear purpose of being remade, reformed, and rebuilt, and renewed.

As we talked, the conversation led to calling and ministry.  He reminded me that the greatest calling a man can ever have is to serve Jesus by loving his family and pouring into them.  THAT is a ministry every husband and father is called to, though we often neglect it for what we think are “bigger” things.  And yet, if a man doesn’t rule his own house well (and I don’t think that’s just talking disciplining your kids), how can he lead the church?  Then Chad looked at me and said “Matt, you’re going to be doing ministry wherever the Lord puts you, with whomever He puts in your path.”  God may call me to some type of “full time” ministry again, but it was obvious that those doors hadn’t opened yet.  So the call right now was to simply go and do whatever I find to do, and do it for Jesus.

Dude…I just sat there for a moment, thanked him for his words, and then told him about the job offer.  He smiled, shook his head and said, “Tell me that doesn’t sound like God connecting dots.”

Indeed…

Long story a tiny bit shorter, I called Jason, my friend, and told him I was definitely interested, but asked if I could have a week to pray about it and talk to Amanda (who was out of town visiting family and friends back in NC).  Obviously, we ended up in agreement that this was the direction we were supposed to head, and I took the job.

So now I’m learning how to do  communications for the oil and gas industry.  To say it’s an adjustment would be an understatement!  It’s like drinking from a firehose!  And yet I go to work every day in the beautiful  (and far more topographically varied than you imagine it to be) state of Oklahoma.  I work with a small crew of really good guys, and we’ve already had quite a few “wading pool” conversations on the job site.

That’s something I’ve learned (or maybe re-learned) this year.  Ministry doesn’t always take the shape you imagine.  It’s not just for pastors, and it doesn’t just happen inside a church.  In fact, it happens MOSTLY outside the doors of our churches:  in our homes, our streets, and our jobs.  It’s for all followers of Jesus, you and me included.  As a Christian, I’m called to be on mission, telling others about the Hope I have found in Jesus…regardless of what I do to earn my wages.

And if I don’t start with it at home, it’s never going to translate into the workplace.

So on the cusp of giving up, right at the 11th hour, God showed up.  It didn’t look how I imagined it.  It isn’t the way I planned it, but it is, like so many other things on this journey, undoubtedly a God-thing.  It is, in fact, the next step.

On the day I went to pick up my work truck and gear, my daughter Hannah rode along with me.  If you know her, you know she’s quite the old soul, with wisdom beyond her years percolating within.  She was sitting quietly beside me as we drove until she looked at me and said, “Dad, you know, if you’d never met Uncle E (one of my oldest friends back in NC, and the mutual friend my now boss and I shared), you’d have never met Mr. Jason, and you wouldn’t have this job.”

Indeed, my dear.

Now THAT’S connecting the dots.