I have so much to announce that it’s hard to know where to begin! But given that I will be talking mostly about endings, perhaps I should just start at the beginning:
First, after serving as Interim Pastor of Peace Fellowship Church for almost two years, my time with that community has finally come to a close. They (hopefully!) will be closing in on a lead pastor this month, which means that I will have served my role, which was to help the church get through this period of transition.
It was only two years, but MAN - what a two years! It was my privilege and honor to serve that beloved community, and I pray that they would continue to do God’s Kingdom work, east of the Anacostia River.
But this also means that at the end of April, I will officially be unemployed. And with that, I could use your help: if you know of any ministry opportunities that I might be well suited for, please let me know. I am open to anything really, but primarily opportunities in the Seattle and Los Angeles area, where we have family – or even in DC as well, since we are already here. I can provide a CV and references and all that, but if you have been following this blog for any length of time, you probably have a very solid sense of who I am!
I also want announce that I have submitted my final manuscript for my book! From here, it goes on to several rounds of editing, all before being published this time next year. While this is obviously not the end of the process, it does mark the end of another long season of my life, which is my journey to getting published.
Three years ago, I had NO thoughts of becoming a writer (then again, 15 years ago, I had NO thoughts of becoming a pastor either – funny how God works). It was only on a whim that I asked a few friends how one goes about publishing a book, and then put together a few truly terrible sample chapters for a proposal. That proposal, along with its many revisions, was rejected nearly twenty times over three years, until finally getting picked up a few months ago.
And so when I submitted the manuscript yesterday morning, it felt in many ways like handing in a final paper for class, or even a dissertation for a doctorate – at 67,000 words, it’s much closer to the latter than the former. I felt satisfied, but at the same time, exhausted.
With so many chapters of my life drawing to a close simultaneously, I have to admit that I feel a bit at a loss. For the past five years, my life has focused on planting the Riverside, trying to get published, and pastoring Peace Fellowship. Now all of these endeavors are complete, in one way or another, and I don’t know what I am supposed to be doing with myself. What does a person do after going through the most terrifying, chaotic, and exciting season of his entire life?
To make this transition even more difficult to process are the practical concerns that we have to address now. Not only do I feel emotionally adrift, but I am going to be unemployed with no concrete sense of what I am going to do next, all while Carol is pregnant with our fifth child. These demands impose a sense of urgency to this season, that I cannot simply sit back and reflect upon the past few years, but have to keep pressing forward so that I can provide for my family, and make that cheddar (where in the world does that expression come from?!).
In some way, this makes me think of the people of Israel, when they were finally entering into the Promised Land and came to the banks of the Jordan River. The river was impossible to cross at that time because it was at full flood. And after wandering around in the desert for generations, this development must have been quite a discouragement to them, to have to face yet another barrier to entering into the Promised Land.
But of course, this situation also should have seemed more than a little familiar to them, to be standing in front of a body of water which separated them from what God had planned. This is exactly the situation they faced when they left Egypt, the Red Sea in front of them, and the army of the pharaoh behind. In fact, as similar as these two instances were, their circumstances by the Jordan were easier than in Egypt. And so the memory of what God had done in the past should have given them encouragement for what they faced in their present, because they had seen God deliver them from nearly the exact same circumstances.
My situation is identical. After all, it was almost exactly two years ago that I closed down the Riverside, the church plant that I had founded in 2009, after which I had no idea what I was going to do next. And all of this took place while Carol was pregnant with our fourth child. But of course, God would make very clear that he did have a plan for me, sending me to Peace Fellowship, and starting a career in writing, both developments that I would have never predicted or planned for myself.
So yes, I am leaving a ministry. I have no idea what I’m doing next. And my wife is pregnant with our fifth child. But I have seen God lead me through nearly this exact same situation before, not two years prior. So it would be foolish for me to be paralyzed in fear and trepidation now, as foolish as it would have been for the people of Israel to balk at the Jordan River in full flood. Fear and trepidation are for those who have not seen God work in the way that I have.
So as overwhelming as this all is, I have faith that God will get us through this time, and has a plan for us. I have seen him do this before, and whatever he has done once, he can surely do again. But I am equally certain that I have no idea what that plan is. So although I don’t feel afraid about the future, what I do feel is something closer to curiosity, that I am incredibly curious as to what God has in store for us next for me and my family.
But I am so glad that God is leading us, and that we have friends and family like you by our side.