Friday, August 19, 2011

Where From Here?

As I write this I am bombarded with thoughts of the countless number of “I knew it” comments I’m sure to receive. But “know” this, you didn’t know. I didn’t even know what the future looked like, only God did and being that I desire to be obedient to Him, I was always open to ANYTHING and ANYWHERE HE moved me.

With that said I know that many have spent the last few years hearing me say that I felt like God was leading me to separate from the military at 17 years and forgo the guarantee of a forever retirement check and medical insurance. I’m not recanting that. Over the last few years I felt lead to that and I believe that God would have absolutely honored that decision and provided for me had I done so. Sometimes I think God asks us if we are willing to do certain things without expecting us to (the whole Abraham and Isaac story). Maybe He asks as a test; maybe He asks just to get us thinking like Him. Regardless, I’ve prayed, fasted and cried out to God for confirmation to stay in the military or go and He just didn’t confirm either way. Sometimes I think God gives multiple ways, all of which glorify Him, allows us to make the choice and uses and blesses us with which ever we choose.

So here’s how this thing went down. Over the last few years and up to this point God has confirmed every other major calling in my life with scripture. Here’s the list:

     -   Call to ministry
     -   Call to theSHIFT
     -   Call to inner-city ministry
     -   Call to Element South Campus
     -   Call to my gorgeous & lovely wife, Sarah
     -   Call to Oakland, CA to plant a church (I’ll get into that in a sec)

All confirmed with scripture. I’d put them on here, but they are scattered about in various journals I was writing in at the time. But separating from the military… never confirmed. So where does that put us? For that I need to back up a little. The decision made about the military is largely connected to our call to plant a church in Oakland, CA.

After God confirmed that call in my heart to Oakland, Sarah and I attended a church planter’s assessment in Las Vegas, NV. It was an amazing couple days, we met some truly wonderful people and God connected us with some people that I have no doubt will have a face in our future ministry. Prior to going to that assessment, Sarah and I talked about everything we could think of surrounding us being capable and ready to plant a church in Oakland, CA. Here’s what we discovered:

1. We’re absolutely NOT capable. We know we’re called to it, but it has to be ALL God because if it depends on us, it fails.

2. We’re scared to death. This is not only a big calling, but a dangerous one. God is asking us to take our family to the 4th most dangerous city (in 2009) in America. We don’t fit the demographic and I cannot relate to a lot of the issues faced there, except that we all need Jesus. But it doesn’t matter. God will use us, protect us and sustain us. We trust Him.

3. We’re not ready. There is a difference between being called and being called and ready. God has absolutely placed a burden on my heart of Oakland, CA (ftr… I’ve never been there. EVER.), but there is some preparation that has to take place before we answer that call. We need to spend time allowing God to prepare us as a married couple. We need (and want) Him to season our marriage and build a strong foundation for us. We need to spend time allowing Him to prepare us as a family. Our call is ALL of our call. It isn’t simply my call, but our call as a family. Our children need to be prepared as well.

So we went to Las Vegas knowing this and God used Vegas to confirm all of that. The assessment team didn’t tell us anything God hadn’t already revealed to us. We came back from Vegas sure of our call and sure that we needed time to prepare. With that said, we know that we are at LEAST 2 to 3 years from starting any ministry. Once that realization was made, we began talking about what that meant for getting out of the military. We started to discuss the logic of separating in June 2012 and not being ready to plant a church until at least 2014. The question that came up was, “What do we do for the 2 years between?” Do we give up a guaranteed job and look for another job for those two years? Do we stay in the military an additional 10 months to get retirement and then pursue the ministry God has given us a heart for? Realistically the choice to stay in the military is obvious. Knowing that we are at least 3 years from planting a church, why would I give up a steady job for the uncertainty of no job for two years prior to moving to Oakland? The choice to stay in the military all the way to retirement was largely based on how that would affect my family. Because I was unsure about my job in the military and whether it would require me to leave my family for up to 4 days a week I was not certain I would stay. Had my job moved towards me having to do that, I would absolutely separate in June, because I’m not willing to sacrifice my family for anything.

So, here’s where we’re at.

We are staying in the military.  I have some guarantees from my leadership that provides my family and I the security we need, not only financially (or medical insurance), but stability wise too.  We have 3 years 10 months left and then I will retire with 20 years of service (and not a day more… maybe a day or two).  After we retire we’re moving to Oakland, CA (we’ll need a team… hint, hint) to serve the people there.  I have a whole blog on the vision God has given me for Oakland, so that’ll follow in the coming days. 

In the mean time, we will most likely (and I say that because God can do whatever He wants) remain in Cheyenne until we retire. We’ll continue to serve at Element (where ever God and Element need us), and we’ll continue to prepare ourselves and family for what’s to come.

Love to you all.  I look forward to the next few years.