My 49th Year Adventure! The 50th Year Begins!
I am turning 50 on December 23, 2017, In the past, milestone birthdays like 25,30, and 40 have bothered me for some reason. I don’t like aging but its part of Gods plan. I have finally come to terms with it and am embracing the life the Father has given me.
So as I sit and reflect this morning, I have had an amazing 49th year. Last December I asked God to make the 49th year about him and me. I wanted to grow closer to him, to be stretched by him, and to be prepared for something new by him.
He didn’t disappoint. My year was filled with some major ups and major downs and all along the way lessons were there in front of me showing me more of myself and who God is.
A major shift came when back in January, my wife and I believed God was preparing us for something different. We came home dreaming of new ways to do ministry and what that would look like. I began to dream more of coaching and mentoring the next generation of leaders who would serve the church.
I began to ask God for ways to prepare myself for this. He opened doors for me to obtain certifications in coaching, parents, marriages, and leaders. Which was even more than I had asked for. Little did I know that all these “tools” would become more meaningful in the last part of my 49th year.
Then a low hit, after Easter, I was informed my position in a church was being eliminated. It hurt as I had worked hard to show how important children’s and family ministry is to the local church but apparently it wasn’t enough. But again, God used that as a catalyst for more. We left and it was hard to do but, we were confident that when God says, “I will supply all your needs.” he means it. It doesn’t mean it won’t stretch you, challenge you and even be painful. It does mean he will prove himself faithful if you remain obedient.
The adventure of lessons began in May when I went out for my fifth Yosemite Summit, which is a week-long spiritual gathering for men in ministry. It was in Yosemite that God showed me some things I needed to change if I was going to enter a new season of greater things for him.
Lesson One: Push Through!
I have a tendency to be a great starter, but when opposition comes, or challenges present themselves, I start to second guess or consider giving up. It happened a couple of times during the hikes where I had the inner battle going where I wanted to quick, turn back, find an easier way or give up. Each time I heard the Father whisper to my heart, PUSH THROUGH! and as I did, what I saw on the other side of that challenge was amazing!
Lesson Two: You Don’t Always Have To Know Where You’re Going!
This lesson came when I with a ministry opportunity that I wasn’t expecting. It would stretch me way outside my comfort zone. As a leader I was always told, you must know where you’re going. While there is truth to that, God showed me sometimes, you don’t. You have to follow where he opens doors. I was asked to join the Giant Cow Kids speaking team and help them while they led the children’s ministry during the SBC Annual Convention in Phoenix, AZ. The challenge came as I was then asked to drive a truck and trailer from Cleveland to Phoenix, something I had never done before. I was to be joined by a couple of young people and we journeyed together across the country driving 14-15 hours a day. While it was some long days, seeing the country was amazing. You may not think its such a big deal, but I don’t like going places I don’t know. I like the comfort of knowing routes and places so I can have a better grasp of what’s ahead. I had no idea where I was exactly going or how to best get there and driving an older truck up mountains where we had to crawl up while watching the thermostat almost redline!
As I trusted God to lead me up and down those mountains an I began to sense how much he had his hands on me and that truck. I was doing this so kids would experience his amazing love and it was so worth it.
Lesson Three: The valley times always about the journey, not the destination.
For the next few months, I began to seek out the supposed concrete plan for my future, but God led me into a valley where I had no job, no real income. I had to depend on him. It was hard and I was not always in a place mentally or spiritually to receive what he was teaching me. I was depressed and stopped living joyfully. I didn’t want to admit to anyone that I was sad, lonely for ministry but it was very obvious to my wife and children as I was not in a good place. I had to repent several times and ask for forgiveness of my wife and kids because I wasn’t in a good place but I was trying hard to embrace the valley. I learned some of the hardest lessons during this time. I had to stop telling God what I wanted and what I thought I needed. I had to let Go of everything. When I did that and embraced the valley, He showed up in an amazing way.
Lesson Four: When God opens Doors, start walking and don’t look back.
This is where life has gotten exciting! I love going to conferences but because of finances hadn’t planned on attending one that close to me. Then one day it was really impressed upon me that I needed to go but didn’t know why? I called and asked if I could get a ticket and was given one to attend. Before leaving I thought, I’d better bring a couple resume’s because who knows who I could meet. I normally, have meetup’s planned when I attend but I didn’t know anyone who was attending this one. I was going in alone. It was during that conference I met a staff member from a church located about an hour and a half south of where I live. We hit it off and when he discovered I was searching for a ministry position, he offered his card and asked me to send a resume. I reached into my backpack and handed him a one. Two days later I get an email asking me to apply for a position with that Church. 32 days later I accepted an offer to join the Family Life Team of a multi-site church (5 campuses with more planned) It is my dream job of helping shape and grow leaders who will impact children and students while ministering and disciple their parents. Then God showed up with final confirmation that this was all part of the plan leading me out of my valley. Our home sold in less than 7 days, we viewed 11 homes and put an offer on a home that already had a contract but, their realtor put in a “BUMP” clause to allow for a better offer, should one come along. We put in an offer and it was accepted. Everything fell into place faster than anything we had ever experienced in 30 years of ministry.
So why am I excited about this 50th year? WHY WOULDN’T I BE????
Look what my God has done to prepare me for it? Look how he has provided and blessed my family! I am a man who is just a sinner saved by God’s grace. I don’t deserve his blessing any more than anyone else. All I want for my birthday this year is to see God do Way more than I could ever ask or think of! I want new ways to do ministry, I want to see more people come to faith in him than ever before. I want to mentor/coach more leaders who desire to be the best they can be. I want to be the best husband and father to my amazing family.
I want year 50 to be the best year ever. I believe it will be!