The last few days have been a whirlwind of activity, anticipation, emotions, and a few tears to say the least. Why? Well, on Sunday, my hubby resigned his position as pastor of the church we have loved the last six years.
Making a decision as big as leaving a pastorate is never an easy thing. It’s been an agonizing process of doubt, prayer, fear, and trust. Is it the right time? What will happen? Will God really provide for them? Will He provide for us? When you ask God to lead and direct your every moment, it’s inevitable that things will not remain unchanged. He is a cultivator after all, and that business is all about pruning and plucking to make growth happen. Even for pastor’s and their families. As we have asked God to guide us and use us and grow us, He has thrust us into places of discomfort, questions, and dark valleys. Never alone, but always reminding us to trust that He knows exactly how even the hard places will turn out for our good.
We as a couple have felt the stirrings of missions work in our hearts forever it seems. It’s why I listened to and read every missionary story I could get my hands on as a kid, why I went to Bible college, and why I prayed diligently for a man who would have this same passion for our world in need. It’s why my man, as a kid, dreamed of going to the jungles, of flying bush planes, and of sharing the love of Jesus with those who’d never heard. It’s why he went to Papua New Guinea and lead teams to Mexico, and around America to pass on the grace he’d so freely been given. It’s why we’ve often looked into full-time missions work, and even why we knew this little out-of-the-way town on the western coast of America was part of His will for our lives, part of the mission He’d planned for us long ago.
If there is any passion in us, it’s been to go beyond our comfortable places, and use the much we’ve been given to touch those who live without. It’s what we preach to our kids – God’s love for the WHOLE world – and pray they live out in person. It’s what tears and pulls at us. Despite our prayers to go overseas in years past, and the passion of our hearts to touch foreign soils, God has led us all over the very state I was born in, all these years. And we’ve been content.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways, acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths. Proverbs 3:5-6
Those discomforts that had seemed too great at the time, began to make sense. Recently, doors began to open and puzzle pieces came together that we’d not considered might be in our path. Answers came to our questions and a beautifully orchestrated opportunity became apparent that left us gaping in wonder at God’s handiwork, timing, and care for us. They were for our good, to spur us onward, to not allow us to get too comfortable. They were to remind us that God had stirred a passion in us long ago that He fully intends to use for His glory, all along the way.
Our disclosure on Sunday wasn’t just that we will be leaving this pastorate, but that we have been given a mission – a holy fire in our bellies if you will, to the last frontier of ALASKA!!!
Jonathan has accepted the position of VP of Student Development at Alaska Bible College, and we will be missionaries with Alaska InReach. Those are just titles, but what they mean is that he will not only get to use his gifts in leading and training students, but we will have ample opportunity to head out into the bush of Alaska (with those students) to encourage the saints and share the love of Jesus with native Alaskans. This is beyond exciting to us. Not only do we get to be a part of raising up new leaders, we get to go where few have gone, and join hands with those who are all but forgotten and alone.
Our kids are thrilled to head back to Alaska after their first experience there almost two years ago. We didn’t imagine in a million years we’d be back again so soon, nor that our return would be to live in this land of endless rugged beauty. They are ready for snow and mountains and adventure, and a plane ride or two. We are looking forward to the opportunities that God has in store for them.
In all our enthusiasm at how God has worked all this out and given us our next steps to walk in, the sadness in leaving our church family and the only home a couple of our kids have ever known is great! Excitement over new opportunity takes nothing away from the sting of saying good-bye. God has filled our cups to overflowing here, and we have loved this small coastal town and it’s people with all our hearts. While the leaving brings pain, we comfort ourselves with the knowledge that God’s faithfulness and goodness will remain on our loved ones here, and we will find that our cup will be filled again in new ways by our God of all grace and comfort.
Would you pray for us?! We are a family in transition and it’s all sorts of different and hard and new and hope-filled. We have lots of details to figure out, lots of people to connect with, and a whole lot of life to share in a short amount of time. It is overwhelming. But not impossible. Of that we are sure because of who holds our hand.