I’ve taken a break the last few weeks from blogging for a few reasons. One, I was on vacation and just needed a break from technology and the tyranny of routine that goes with it. Two, God has been working on me and my family regarding a ministry move and I just needed to unplug.
Today I made public my call to Cross Church Northwest Arkansas. Wrestling through this call has been one of the most difficult happenings in my ministry. Not because the call was not clear, but because there was so much emotion involved. I am, by nature, not an emotionally driven person. Logic tends to rule the day in my world, sometimes to a fault (just ask my wife!). But I fell pray to the fog of emotion in ways I had not previously known as God came calling this time.
First, Grand Avenue Baptist Church is my home church. I grew up at Grand. I was saved and baptized at Grand. I was called to ministry at Grand. And I preached my first sermon on a mission trip with Grand. Grand is in my DNA. When God called me to come to my home church it was a unique blessing that most never experience. Second, my parents are members of Grand. That means I am their pastor. Now I’ll admit that I did not know how this was going to work when I came to pastor Grand seven years ago, but it has turned into one of the great joys of my life. So now leaving my parents and turning them over to another shepherd is a highly emotional thing for me to consider. Third, Cross Church means so much to me. I cut my teeth on ministry post-seminary at Cross Church. I raised my children in Cross Church. I baptized my two oldest kids at Cross Church. I taught so many students at Shiloh who are now married with their own kids and doing great things for the Lord. Fourth, Dr. Ronnie Floyd is my mentor. I have learned more about leadership, church, mission, and ministry from this man than anyone else in my life. It would not be an overstatement to say that the fruit of my ministry flows from the river of his direct influence.
And so, when I balanced all of the above, the emotions ran high.
In 2011 I wrote a book on knowing the will of God called, On a Ship to Tarshish. I found myself going back to my own words for clarity as I sought the face of God and His perfect direction for my life. The central claim of the book is that if you spend your days in the center of God’s will regarding all the “little” things that we tend to think are unimportant, that when the BIG things come around, it will be very easy and natural to follow God’s perfect will.
I want to tell you this is true. In my book I talk about fixation, location, and vocation. I won’t belabor those points here, but as I went about seeking God’s will on whether it was time to leave Grand and move to Cross Church, I simply went back to the day-to-day basics of walking God’s will in each and every moment. I went to work and did what the day required. I loved my wife and kids, prayed with them, prayed for them, played with them, etc. I worshipped God, read my Bible, and laid my petitions before Him. And it all became crystal clear.
That doesn’t mean it was easy. Many times stepping into God’s perfect will can be the hardest thing to do.
When we walked back to my office after I preached this morning and delivering “the news” that we were leaving Grand, my ten-year-old Grayson walked with us. When we got to the office, he just sat on my couch and started crying. I went over and held him and I told him this, “Son, the reason it hurts so bad is because we have loved so much.” It is true. When you love much, you can hurt much.
Today was a day of pain. It was also a day of great love.