When It's Time to be Abraham, Not Peter
That's how a church guy like myself might describe most of the big decisions Christina and I have made. You know the story (from Matthew 14). Jesus is walking across the lake (like you do when you're God). The disciples see him and, though they're terrified, Peter asks Jesus if could come out and join him. Jesus says, "Sure. Come on out." Peter then does what no other human (who is not also God) has ever done, by stepping out onto the waves. This is a Peter decision. You see what you should do next. It's frightening for sure, but the first step is right in front of you. The challenge is in trusting that you won't sink when you leave the boat that has been keeping you safe. This is how we've made our biggest decisions in the past. They've required faith - stretched the limits of ours, in fact. But, the next right movement was always pretty obvious.
Then, there are Abraham moments. Abraham gets a very different invitation when God calls him in Genesis 12. For Abraham, the invitation is basically, "Leave everything you know and let's go on a journey. I'll let you know when we get where we're going." There is a promise (the promise that drives all of God's mission in human history, actually - so no small thing there). God makes assurances of perfect provision. But, in the end, Abraham's call is simply to leave his home and trust that God will show him where he's going. It's a blind leap of faith. It must be taken with the trust that somewhere below is exactly the right landing spot, even though you can't see it when you initially step out (does this remind anyone else of Indiana Jones?).
Abraham moments have always scared me. I have lived my life hoping that I would be able to keep things more the Peter department of at least being able to see where I was going next - regardless how crazy it might seem to step out there. Over the past few months, that has all changed. God has been working in me and Christina to the point that we could no longer deny that it was happening - he is Abrahaming us.
And so, I made the following statement to my church yesterday:
Twenty-three years ago Christina and I started on our journey of marriage. One of the cornerstones of our relationship has always been an absolute commitment to allowing God to direct our lives. That commitment has led us in all sorts of unexpected directions - Japan, Oklahoma, rural Oklahoma, and 12 years ago it brought us here to Naperville.
Over the last several months, we have again discerned God telling us that it is time for something new in our lives and ministry. After months of praying, discussion, and sleepless nights, I recently informed the elders that I will be stepping down by the end of the summer.
As for what is next for me and my family, I honestly do not know. We are pursuing a few possibilities - some local and some in other parts of the country. We will continue to live our lives as we always have - dedicated to being in exactly the place and situation that we believe God leads us to. Right now, that means we are stepping out without a visible safety net because we believe this is where he is leading.
We will, of course, keep you updated on future plans. There will be more time for reminiscing (and crying, because...it's me) later as God brings our new path into clearer focus.
Right now, my attention is on creating a valuable summer experience for our students, as well as helping the elders find the best possible person to assume the role of youth minister here at NCOC.
And, that's where we sit. I have no announcement of our destination to make today (though I sensed yesterday that some in our church expect this to be the case).
We're goin' Abraham.
Not that we believe our calling to be of nearly the same historical import as his, but you get the idea. We are embarking on a journey with no clear understanding of the destination. We simply know that God has asked us to start walking. We'd absolutely love it if you'd pray for us to have patience and wisdom in discerning our next move.