So we’ve finally gone public (which means that the 3 people who read this already know) with our big news- we’re moving to Santa Cruz, CA! I’m probably the most surprised person of all that we’re really doing this. Apparently, I’m a “stay-er”, though I love to imagine that I’m a free-spirit type, taking risks and moving out boldly on a whisper of prompting from God’s Spirit. But my track record would seem to indicate otherwise.
Evidence includes: Leading the college ministry I’d been part of as a college student- pastored it for over 13 years, not including 2 years as an unpaid intern.
Serving full-time at the same church for over 17 years; part of that same church for over 28 years in total.
We’ve lived in the same house for the last 13 years- all 3 of our kids were born in the same hospital. I’ve lived in the Phoenix area since 1985, plus 5 years here as a kid- 31 of my 44 years have been right here.
So this move is big for me, for us. It’s clearly not a whim (see the above) and it’s not because I was bored or just wanted to live by the ocean- though my wife is pretty delighted by that reality. I’m excited to discover a new (and very cool) place, too, but that’s not what’s prompted us, either. We’re making this move because God- as best we can sense His direction- is leading us.
That kind of statement gets thrown around so casually these days, I almost cringe writing it. But I don’t know how else to describe what’s happened in this: I wasn’t seeking a move or change, but got an unexpected call and invitation from a long-time trusted friend to consider coming on staff at his church. This is the same friend that I’d turned down 3 separate times in the past, so apparently I’m able to muster a “no” when I need to. But something happened inside of me that hadn’t before: despite my own fears and my tendency to stay put and “stick it out”, God freed up my heart and will long enough to say, “Yes”. And in stepping out into this- for me- scary place- God has kindly and regularly affirmed this direction.
There was affirmation from the elders of this new church- without even meeting me (long story, but they had seen video of my teaching from 3 years ago)- they were ready to hire me. Kelli is able to keep her current job. The kids were able to spend time in Santa Cruz this summer before this even came up and loved it there. Perhaps best of all, the church that we helped to launch is going to continue, likely led by people that I’ve been privileged to invest in.
Not that God had to provide all of this confirmation. He just graciously chose to, apparently knowing that I’d need it. For that I’m very grateful. But there’s one piece that has me even more convinced- I’ll call it the “risk factor”. While it might not seem large to many people, this feels like a pretty big leap to me. There are plenty of aspects to this move that I’m having to simply trust God for. And my sense is that is exactly the kind of leap that God desires- one that requires Him to come through.
I’ve preached and taught that kind of message many times- to take the next step, however scary, that God is inviting you toward. And I’ve taken my share of small ones. I guess God decided it was time for a bigger jump. So….. here we go…