Henry Blackaby and Claude King in their work, "Experiencing God" write that God is at work all around us, and God invites us into his work. God invites us into his work through his Spirit who speaks to us through the Bible, prayer, circumstances, and the church. We come to know God more fully when we obey God's invitation, though it may take some major adjustments in our lives.
Having said that, let me tell you my story and how God communicated to me that I should become the pastor at Air Hill. First of all, my term or contract came to an end last summer. I agreed in my contract not to look for other churches while I was the pastor, and I didn't. But as I was coming to the end of my term, I could not help thinking that Faith needed a new voice, a fresh voice. When people asked me how Faith was doing, I often answered in the words of the old hymn "Showers of Blessing:" "Mercy drops round us are falling, but for the showers we plead." You must also understand that as I was reflecting on Faith, I remembered the past. In my first several years, people seemed to be coming to know Christ. The 18 people baptized at Faith since I have been here seemed to mostly have occurred within the first few years. With that in mind and some other thoughts, I sensed Faith needed a new voice to reignite the body. (God was speaking to me in my prayer life.)
Well, I saw that there were a few other BIC churches looking for a pastor. I asked my bishop (the leader of my regional conference) if it would be appropriate for me to explore them. He wholeheartedly agreed. (God was using the church to speak.)
As I searched Scripture, God spoke to me through Acts 16:6-10. In this passage Paul tried to minister to one area, but the Spirit blocked him. He tried to go another direction, and again the Spirit stopped him. Then, in a vision, he received an invitation from a man in Macedonia asking for help. Thus, Paul headed off to Macedonia. That was going to be my example. If I received an invitation, I would go. If not, I would stay. (God was going to speak through his word.) Though I didn't officially put a time frame on it, I thought the decision making would be complete by the end of the year 2017.
Amazingly, in June I interviewed at a church and later received a second interview. But in the dialogue afterwards, I sensed a lack of eagerness and decisiveness, so I withdrew from consideration. As I was in that process, I received another invitation to interview. I did - three times at that church. I thought I would receive an invitation from them, but it never happened. As we were waiting for a response, the bishop over Air Hill contacted me. That church board was looking for more candidates; they didn't appreciate the ones they had. This was right before Christmas, and I was still waiting. I agreed. Why? The bishop, the church, is my authority. I had asked the bishop through email, what makes me any different than these candidates. I really didn't want to go through a long drawn out process again. Amazingly, he gave three or four differences.
Well, even more surprisingly Air Hill requested an interview. Though I did not see anything special occurring during that interview, according to the bishop, they wanted to invite me back for a second one immediately. He told them to wait and let me process. However, when I received the request for the interview, I accepted. A little more than a week later after the second interview, I received an invitation to be the pastor of Air Hill BIC. Not much later, I accepted.
Yes, there will be some radical adjustments I will need to make, and so will Air Hill. Yet, God seemed to be at work bringing this all about. Not only that, through my own bishop. through a pastoral friend, and through my brother, who is also a pastor, God seemed to be confirming that I was doing the right thing. Thus, it will be interesting to see how God is going to be at work at Air Hill. Also, it will be interesting to see how God will be at work at Faith. If he led me out, I trust he will lead someone else in.
More could be said, but that is the abridged version of the story. Your prayers will be much appreciated. Getting ready for this move is like juggling a third job. I already work at the flower shop and as the Faith pastor, but now in my spare time Nancy and I need to go through our 20 years of accumulated stuff and discern what to move. Plus, pray for the people of Faith as they will soon lose their pastor of 20 years, and also pray for the people of Air Hill, as they will be having a new shepherd and adjusting to him. Yes, pray, pray, pray.
P.S. I am not sure how much I will be able to blog due to this transition.