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It's been a pretty crazy month at my house. We are experiencing a serious season of change. It kind of reminds me of that Byrds' song from the 60's based on Ecclesiastes 3. Back at the end of May, my husband and I got the news that due to decreased giving and budgetary constraints, our lead pastor and the church board members made the difficult decision to cut the children's pastor position to part-time with no benefits beginning August 1st. Since my husband Craig is the children's pastor, this means it is his position being cut. Given our own budgetary constraints (including my steep monthly out-of-pocket medical expenses) he will not be able to stay on part-time with no benefits, so he has begun putting his resume out to other churches for other positions. One church is nearby, so we wouldn't have to move right away. Another is a thousand miles away from our friends and family. We have no idea where we are going! As you might imagine, this has been very difficult for us, and over the past six weeks, we've felt every possible emotion regarding this situation.
I think the hardest thing for us to think about is leaving the church we've been part of off and on for almost 25 years. It is the church where I gave my life to Christ at age 24. It is the church where I met Craig, and where I married him less than a year later. It is the church where both of our children were dedicated as infants, gave their hearts to Jesus as children, and were baptized as preteens. It is the church that gave Craig his first opportunity at full-time children's ministry as a licensed pastor. We've not only watched our own children grow up at this church, we've been blessed by families who trusted us to help raise their children spiritually on Sunday mornings, Wednesday nights, and a few weeks every summer. Leaving will be hard. So incredibly hard.
When Craig accepted this position in 2004, he told me he believed God was calling him to stay on for ten years. Ten years is an eternity for children's pastors; they almost never stay at one church for that long. I wasn't sure he'd heard God correctly, especially when some very tempting offers for bigger churches and more money came in. But I trusted my husband and we stayed. It's so crazy to think that this looming August 1st deadline will also mark our 11th anniversary at our church. So in that context, God gave us a bonus year with our precious church family before moving us on to whatever is next.
And that is the most important thing for me to remember: God is moving us, not man. Back in May, I was so angry. At first, I could only see that the whole situation made absolutely zero sense, and I tried to find someone to blame. But it has become increasingly clearer over the past few weeks that this is God's perfect sovereign plan--not just for our family, but for the families in our current church and the families at our future church. Ultimately, because it's His perfect plan, we need to praise Him for the opportunity to trust Him with our future and our needs, and we can't wait to see how He will bless everyone involved.
I'm not going to lie; despite my faith, I still worry what will happen come August 1st. My heart knows that God will provide for us because He always has. However, there are days when my brain struggles to trust that He will cover all of our expenses. Like somehow I think He will call us out only to leave us stranded and destitute. So I worry. Jesus was very clear in His Sermon on the Mount that we are to be anxious for nothing because He cares for us infinitely more than even the lilies of the valley or the birds of the air. Instead, I must choose to be optimistically expectant and I must praise Him for the plans He has for us...to prosper us and not to harm us...to give us a hope and a future.
Change is never easy, and I am not great at embracing it. I am also not great at rolling with the punches or going with the flow or even seizing the day. I don't want to have to trust God. Lucky for me (and any of you who are also being forced to embrace change and trust God) His Word is full of verses to encourage us that we should trust Him, but more importantly that we can trust Him. Over and over in scripture we see reminders that God is in control and that while our circumstances might change, He doesn't. (Check out a few of these verses for yourself: Proverbs 19:21, Isaiah 43:18-19, Habakkuk 3:19, Romans 8:28, I Peter 5:7, Hebrews 13:8, Philippians 1:6)
I will close with verses 11-12 of Ecclesiastes 3..."God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has put eternity in their hearts, except that no one can find out the work that God does from beginning to end. I know that nothing is better for them than to rejoice, and to do good in their lives."
P.S. Now you have that song stuck in your head, right? You're welcome!