I was 23 years old, newly married and working a job that I utterly hated. Melissa and I had only been married a year when we decided that we’d give this full-time ministry thing a shot. Like, ya know, the real deal.
I had been the youth pastor at my local church for roughly three years and felt an enormous call to work with young people. So, being the not-so-much gregarious person that I am, I pasted my resume online and left the work in God’s hands. “If this is what you’ve called us to do, then God, I’m leaving it in your hands.” That was my first mistake – because He did just that.
We received calls and emails and more calls and more emails and the next thing you know, we not only had a ministry offer but we had multiple offers. Large churches, small churches, churches from all over the United States were contacting us, wanting more information, family pictures, vials of blood – you name it. It was overwhelming to say the least and it left me feeling directionless.
But then I got the call. It was from a church in New Mexico and, from their description, it sounded like it was established just for Melissa and I – like God had pre-ordained it before the beginning of time. And the pastor, though I’d never met him in my life, felt like one of my best friends. He’d frequently call and tell us about his church and I’d listen. He’d ask about our lives and I’d pour out my heart. It was as if we were stuck in the movie Dude, Where’s My Car … “Dude!” … “Sweet!”
This went back and forth for weeks. We were trying to get direction and kept asking ourselves, “Is this the place Lord?” Yet in the meantime, I was still receiving calls from other churches. But truth be told, I was already sold. My heart was with this church. I wanted to work there. I had to work there.
And then I got the other call. Some pastor by the name of Lance, from some no-name town in Iowa , saw my resume and thought he’d give us a call. He mentioned something about corn and something else about a great opportunity the church had to offer. Blah, blah, blah is what I thought at the time, all the while a voice from within was tugging at my heart. It was the same voice that I’d heard all day and night, the same voice that had already answered the question, “Is this the place?” It was the same voice that I was refusing to listen to.
Back to the church that was, in my mind, prophetically pre-destined to take us under their wing; the church where we would learn all-things-ministry and the church where we could spend time ministering for ages to come. Millions, no, billions saved because of our ministry. Well, needless to say, I can’t even remember that pastor’s name.
The voice that I was refusing to listen to was telling Melissa and I where to go. It wasn’t just speaking to me, Melissa heard it too. It was loud and clear and it just so happened to be directed toward that little ol’ church in that little ol’ town in that little ol’ state of Iowa.
And so the story goes. That church in New Mexico hired someone else. I’d like to say that I was a little upset but I wasn’t. Because I knew that God was, in fact, speaking to our hearts and leading us to make one of the best ministry decisions we’ve ever made.
Although God had called us there, Iowa wasn’t the easiest place to minister. But through all the learning experiences, Melissa and I grew closer. We established a secure belief in our ministry and knew that we were in God’s will. It’s a feeling that can’t be exchanged for anything. It’s a feeling of peace and humility. Even in the difficult times and in the difficult situations, we were satisfied.
That was almost six years ago and a lot has changed since then. Two kids, different jobs, and lots of hair loss. Good mistakes and bad mistakes. Good choices and bad choices. Being hurt and seeking healing. Moving and moving again. These are just a few of the things that have plagued our lives over the past few years. They are the same things that have kept us up at night; the same things that leave us asking “Why God?” But, at the same time, they are the things that continue to help us grow. These same have helped me come to the understanding, especially when I look into the eyes of my children, Benjamin (now 2 years, 7 months old) and Bella (now 14 months old), that God really does have everything under control. Even when I look in all directions and see confusion and frustration and lack understanding, they are our gentle reminder of His love for us.
So, where does that leave us today?
Remember that little voice that I so easily dismissed several years ago when Lance, now a good friend, called and told us of all those neat little opportunities in Iowa?
Well, I love God’s voice. But sometimes I have a hard time listening. Why? Because it usually involves a rush of uncontrolled emotion. It throws my world out of whack and, being completely truthful, I don’t like feeling like that. I don’t like stepping out of my comfort zone. I don’t like confrontation and I surely don’t like letting my guard down.
But I’m going to make a decision. I’m going to lay myself down. I’m setting my own agenda aside and I’m asking God to speak to me again. I’m asking Him to tell me where to go and what to do. I have to hear Him again. I need Him to break my heart for the things that break His.
Bo Lane is the publisher of Rethink Monthly magazine and is a few years shy of becoming completely bald.