A New Season, Same God

Posted on May 16, 2014

Okay, I know, I know – it’s been a long time since I last posted.  But instead of giving my usual litany of tired old excuses (my kids, writer’s block, my house got broken into, etc.), this time, I have a very good reason for not being able to post:

Since I ended my time with Peace Fellowship, Carol and I have been trying to sort out our priorities, both what we felt God wanted for us, as well as what we wanted for our own lives.  Through this, we identified three prayer requests:

First, we hoped that God would place us with a church that really valued reconciliation.  Reconciliation is not just the idea that individuals can be reconciled to God, as amazing as that one facet is.  Reconciliation also has a corporate dimension, that people and even communities can be reconciled to one another.  Because of this, we wanted to be involved with a ministry that was culturally diverse and truly prized reconciliation work, while not compromising on the message of the gospel, which is Christ crucified and resurrected.  This might seem like an easy enough task, but you would be surprised.  Many churches pursue one aspect of reconciliation in lieu of the other, or don’t even believe it is a priority at all.

Our second prayer request was more personal: that we wanted to be closer to our family.  There is a practical aspect to this, that with our fifth child on the way, it would be immensely helpful to have another set of hands nearby to help with the kids.  But it went deeper than this.  We wanted our children to know the rest of our family well, not simply as people that they see once or twice a year, but as people with whom they shared a deep personal connection, as well as a biological one.  So we were hoping that we could find a church that was closer to family, which would limit our search to Chicago, LA, or Seattle.

Our third request was the most pragmatic: that this would all happen soon.  Because the baby is due in the beginning of August, we didn’t have the luxury of time.  We needed everything to come together very promptly so that we would have time to relocate and get situated before the baby’s arrival.  This meant finding a church and selling our house in a period of only one month, before the summer began in earnest – a pretty tall order.

And God have mercy on me, but despite everything that I have seen God do over the past few years of my life, I had my doubts whether God could answer all these requests.  Perhaps one or two, but not all of them, and certainly not in the timeframe required. But this just goes to show how little I truly know about God, because I am so happy and humbled to announce that starting in July, I will be leaving DC to serve as the lead pastor of Rainier Avenue Church (RAC) in Seattle, Washington.  

RAC is located in the Rainier Valley, which has the distinction of being one of the most diverse zip codes of the United States.  And having visited last weekend, I can testify to the truth of that assertion – it is a truly international neighborhood.  RAC also prizes the whole work of reconciliation, both its individual and corporate dimensions.  In fact, their mission statement is “Encouraging everyone in the Rainier Valley and beyond to find wholeness in Jesus Christ”.  And so, prayer request #1: answered.

In addition, Carol’s parents live close to Tacoma, which is not very far away from the church (and also not too close, which is kind of nice too, if you know what I mean).  And so, prayer request #2: answered.

And lastly, the whole timeframe thing – we had one month for everything to come together, and that’s precisely what happened.  The whole process with RAC began a little over a month ago, and finished up just this past week.  We put up our house for sale, and had a contract on it within six days.  This means that we will be moving out of DC at the beginning of June, well before the baby’s arrival in early August.  Prayer request #3: answered.

There are so many thoughts and feelings that are running through my mind and heart right now, it’s hard to express.  I am leaving behind DC, the city where all my children have grown up, and in which I experienced the most formative moments of my entire life.  That is both a little sad and daunting to me, and I’m sure that I will be processing this development a lot over the coming weeks.

But what I find deeply comforting is that in this new season, even though the city and the church might be brand new for me, the God who goes with me is exactly the same.  He is the same God who got us through Carol’s cancer, and protected Jonathan in the womb.  He’s the same God who gave me all my wonderful children, and two of them after doctors told we could have no more.  He’s the same God who carried me and my family through innumerable difficult moments of the past few years: break-in and thefts, personal and career setbacks, and various meteorological phenomenon (Snowmaggedon, Frankenstorm, Polar Vortex, etc). And as long as that God is with me…I’m good.  Or as it says in the opening verse of Psalm 27:

The Lord is my light and my salvation—
    so why should I be afraid?
The Lord is my fortress, protecting me from danger,
    so why should I tremble?

As I said, I am sure that I will be writing more reflections and thoughts on this transition over the next few weeks.  But for now, I am excited about this new season of life, but also thankful for all of you. Many of you have prayed and supported me and my family for years, throughout this entire process, and for that I am deeply grateful for you all.

Now, if any of you would like to help me pack, I’d be even MORE grateful still.

Posted in: Musings