At the end of 2017 my wife and I said to each other “2018 has to start better than 2017”. In January of 2017 my mother in law and biological father died about 8 days apart. Some major things happened in our lives in early 2018 that changed our long term plans. I won’t go into those events because there’s no way to share them with impugning the character of certain people even if names are withheld.
We never foresaw ourselves being where we are today at least at this time. Here’s some of the things that I’ve learned and experienced through it all.
- God is faithful even when we aren’t. I can’t imagine the pain of all we have experienced over the last two years without God’s abiding presence. I’ve learned to trust Him more every day. Even when others turn on us, God is still there. Even when we think all is lost we still have Christ and that’s all we need. You don’t realize that Christ is all you need until Christ is all you have.
- Planting a church is hard. This has been a season of learning and growing like never before in my life. I don’t know how people do this without spiritual family and great support. I have a new found respect for church planters. All that to say I’m just sitting in a supportive role at RISE Church. I can’t say how much my respect for church planters has grown this year.
- God does a lot in my life despite me not because of me. Sometimes we can fall into the trap of thinking we made our own way. I’m in awe of how much God has done this year not because I’m good but because He’s good. He’s shown up at RISE in a great way. We’ve been amazed by all the things we’ve seen so far.
- Even when things don’t go as we planned God is still in charge. I know this a simple truth but I have experienced this like never before in life. I like being in control of my life and this has been total surrender of control. I could have never drawn up things this way.
- My identity is found in Christ alone. It’s not how big of a church I work at. It’s not how big of a staff I lead. It’s not how much people respect the role I’m in. It’s not if people know all the great things I’ve ever done. I’m not what I do. I’m not what I have. I’m not my title. I am who He says I am. I’ve learned a lot about who God designed me to be.
- God loves my kids more than I do. One of my biggest heartaches in this season has been my kids, specifically my oldest two daughters. They gave up a lot at no fault of their own. I contemplated not doing the right thing just to protect them. Then I realized that I’m not their Savior. He’s done more to protect and bless them than I ever could.
- God is working in me what He has prepared for me. All that God has done in my this year is to prepare in me for what He has prepared for me. He uses every circumstance, disappointment, betrayal, pain, defeat, and loss to deepen my faith and trust. He uses every victory and success to shine His glory. Everything that has happened to this point prepares me for what’s next.
I can’t wait to see what God does in 2019. I’m sure it won’t be what I expect it to be. God is writing a story that only He can write.