So what has happened over the past eight months? A LOT! Like, a whole butt-load of stuff. Yes. Nine months ago I was just beginning Gettysburg Master's Commission. My original intention of going to GMC was to basically get my head back on straight. Nine months ago I was really not liking life at all. I thought I had dug myself a hole that I could not get out of. Sounds so dramatic I know...and in reality I wasn't even close to being at that point. But at the age of 20 it was a place I did not want to be at all. Keep in mind, this is not one of those "I gave up on God" stories. No, my faith was strong enough and knew enough that these rough patches hit every single person on this planet....born again or not....it's called LIFE (this has been a recent revelation to me by the way...the living life part).
So I went to GMC with a, what I thought at the time, very vague idea of what I wanted to do in life. I felt the call to ministry when I was in 9th grade. Nine months ago, that's still about all I had...the calling...just not sure where. At the time I was leading my youth group back home. God did some really cool stuff during my tenure there, but I saw it as more of a starting point...not something I wanted to do for the rest of my life. So I went to GMC expecting a clear-cut vision for ministry by the end of the program (which is right now).
Has that happened? Yes and no. Ambiguity ensues. Let's just say so much more happened to me. All freakin' crazy and awesome.
I came to GMC with a humbled and broken heart (various reasons that ate away at me for too long a time, but that are, praise God, no longer relevant in my life). My expectations were that God would fix all those things, the way I wanted, and then send me back to Pittsburgh. It's a funny thing when you pray, "God, Your will be done in my life", but then proceed to ask that it happen this way and that way. Sometimes I have to wonder that God hears our prayers and goes, "Que?". James 1 talks about this...doublemindedness (that might be a word). Know what you want...your way or God's way.
Fortunately, I'm pretty sure God sifted through my humble ramblings and made sense of them in the only way that God can. I think His way won out (which is a good thing :). My goals, my expectations, my views, my pre-conceived notions about almost everything were turned upside down on its head. Long story short, I started to actually receive dreams and vision for ministry and more importantly...life.
So what is my vision? I guess the short and simple answer is church planting. It's kind of funny because I don't know if there is a long answer. There are, I believe, a million details that are a part of that vision, but I'm just not sure how they all fit together right now. That was a scary thing 9 months ago (ok, so it's still a little scary...not knowing exactly for sure what to do), but I've learned a little more about faith. Hebrews 11:1 says, "Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen." Now, I've had this verse memorized for who knows how long. But I guess my heart really didn't soak it all in until a short time ago. Let's face, I don't know how it all pans out. Nobody can ever know. But I hope and believe in God's promises especially Romans 8:28: "And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose."
Pretty cool huh? Yeah! So cool! But what does it mean to obey God? According to the Bible, to love God is to obey Him. There are several passages that point to this, but my favorite is 2 John 6, "And this is love, that we walk according to his commandments; this is the commandment, just as you have heard from the beginning, so that you should walk in it." So how do you obey God? Read, pray, and find out for yourself :)
So put it all together, you can place your faith on the fact that if you obey God...then you are loving God. And if you love God, He will direct your footsteps.
This truth and finding confidence in who I am in Christ are probably the two greatest things I got from GMC and Freedom Valley Worship Center...ok...I'll tell you in a minute about a third HUGE thing I took away from these past nine months....:)
A side note on vision and faith. Like Hebrews 11:1 says, if we knew everything about our vision and how things were going to play out...where does faith come into play...ultimately leading to the question, "Where does God come in?". I think Oswald Chambers said it perfectly in one of his devotionals when he said that (and I am probably bastardizing what he put so beautifully) we are never ready to receive all of our vision. God will reveal the details we need as we go along...nothing more and nothing less....just what we need. And that when God initially gives us the vision, it is not our own yet. We have to pursue God and that vision to grasp it completely.
So I am relying and know that God will reveal more and more nuggets of information along the way
So back to church planting...
When I initially caught the bug for church planting my thought process was this: "Church planting? Cool. Pittsburgh?...plant a church in Pittsburgh!" It sounded perfect. But it was more like the fall back plan...Pittsburgh was all I knew.
Jumping way ahead to late February of this year, God opened the door (and by door I mean it was the Red Sea being parted and I could see all the way across to the other side) for me to go to Tulsa to be a part of the Freedom Valley Tulsa church plant. I more or less was sold instantly.
I was basically beside myself to know that I was going Tulsa...I felt such great purpose in my life. Way cool stuff.
About a month later in March, something else MAJOR and SUPER AWESOME happened in my life. I fell in love with a girl. I won't say that her name is Charity. She would be especially unhappy if I told you that her name was Landis.................her middle name is Joy
It was during a time that I was completely content in being single. I guess I was living the 1 Corinthians 7:32 life...and I was totally cool with that. I was following God to Tulsa and I couldn't be happier. But this was totally a God thing. I believe God told me, "You really like this girl"...this girl that I had admired much about but never really thought much more than that. My response to God, "You know what? I really DO like this girl." But wait....I was going to Tulsa and she's firmly set at FVWC...this couldn't possibly work.
Well...we talked... and we found out we were both CRAZY about each other. But we were questioning the whole thing and how it could possibly work out. But after much prayer and wise counsel we both trusted...we realized if this is truly a God thing...it will work out. Remember that Romans 8:28 thing? So we took the approach to take things just a day at a time and trust that if we were obeying God...He'll put it all together.
Let me just say that the short journey I have had with Charity has been, for a lack of a better word....AWESOME! It's so cool being with someone with such a passion for God and ministry and one who listens for God's voice first and not someone else's....like mine! I'm so excited for what the future holds for us :) And we are so excited to build our relationship long-distance by building on God's rock solid foundation. I'm pumped for that!
So flash forward to right now...7:26 PM Central Time...at a Panera Bread on Lewis Avenue in Tulsa, OK. You want to know something? After all that I said above...I have absolutely NO idea what's going to happen to me during this year at Tulsa. Not a clue. I'm going through the phase of settling in...that super uncertain stage with mixed thoughts...was this the right or wrong choice? I miss Charity so uncontrollably much (so it's only been since Saturday since I saw her...don't judge me haha).
Do you want to know something else?
I'm really not worried. Not at all. I love her SO SO SO much, but my faith is not in Charity...we will fail each other over these next 12 months and many times after that. No...my hope, faith, and trust is in God alone.
Psalm 18 says, "I love you, O Lord, my strength. The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.........For who is God, but the Lord? And who is a rock, except our God? - the God who equipped me with strength and made my way blameless. He made my feet like the feet of a deer and set me secure on the heights. He trains my hands for war, so that my arms can bend a bow of bronze."
A year ago at this time I was confused, uncertain, and pissed beyond belief. What has a year of seeking God first (never, ever, ever forget Matthew 6:33) changed? Everything. You may ask, "Aren't you still uncertain?" My answer is that I am 100% certain in God. And that is enough to sustain me through the good times and the bad times that will come again.
For the next 12 or so months my home is Tulsa, OK and I am so excited...in fact SUPER excited...for what God is going to do in me this year. He changed so much in me over the past year, I can't even imagine what He is going to do in me this next year. If hope like that doesn't get you excited....I'm not sure what will.
And to answer any questions of what do I do after this year? Haha, who knows. That's for God to know and me to find out. Charity and I have gone with the open-handed approach. We love each other very much, but it's God's to do with as He pleases. I'm trying to take that approach with my whole life in general...so no promises!
So, until next time...I promise it won't be eight months :)