What A Long Strange Trip It’s Been

Posted: March 10, 2016 in Uncategorized

What a difference a year makes.  Well, it’s almost been a year, either way we will call it a year.  From last May until now God began a work in our families life that we will never forget.  We were coming out of a rough season that was physically, emotionally and spiritually draining.  I won’t go into detail about the reasons, but they were rough and my family was drained.  We were moving from Alabama back to our hometown in Tupelo, Mississippi and we were going to be a happy little family that goes to an eight hour job, comes home and is happy. We would serve in our local church where we could, but  we were never going to do full time ministry again and that was just fine with us.

We moved back home and I got a job at my old place of employment.  I was now installing solid surface counter tops with a friend of mine that is more than a friend, he’s more like a brother to me. So I was able to work with a solid Christian guy with a great faith in Christ that loves his family and leads well. We spent the next four and a half months on the road together installing counter tops.  We were more than just installers, we were brothers in Christ living an adventure each day spreading the good news of Christ, The Gospel, while we worked.  During this time God was speaking to me in a fresh new way.  I was able to see things differently.  I was no longer the jaded, frustrated man I had been.  God allowed me to see that he had plans for me and my family, I just didn’t want to believe it.  I thought I would never be in ministry again.  Through all of this my wife and I found out we were expecting our fourth child, and not only our fourth child, it was our very first girl.  We were going to have our first daughter.  We started to see greater things come from a dark and frustrating past.

Later on I began working at a company that manufactured RVs. We moved further north of Tupelo, MS to be closer to this job as well as my wife’s family.  This was the blue collar life I was looking for.  Working in manufacturing, living in the country close to family and serving at our local church was what we wanted, but God had different plans.

In November of 2015 my wife and I were just looking at ministry opportunities across the United States and we found an open position in a place called Cross Plains, TN.  This church was looking for an Associate Pastor of Worship and Administration.  Something clicked inside of us both as we looked at this open position and looked through the church website. My wife said this word “apply!” with great enthusiasm. I said “really,” and she said “yes!” Now you have to understand that up to this point we had said that only God will put us back into full time ministry, but He would have to put us on the same page. We would both know that if God wanted it, we would both know it.   If He doesn’t put us on the same page then we will never do it again.  Little did we know God was opening a book to begin putting us on page 1, together.

From there we went through a lengthy process that was nothing short of amazing.  The people we were meeting and interviewing with were some of the best people I have ever been around.  God was up to something and every step of the way my wife was on board and we were on the same page, together, as a family.  My kids were even on the same page as us.  I know that God put everything into motion and knitted our family together like never before through this process.

During the process we were scheduled to come up to Cross Plains, TN for a big weekend of meet and greet, and to continue the interview process.  Little did we know Snowmageddon 2015 would hit.  We didn’t get to do all that was planned, but we did what God had planned.  My boys also got to play in 10 inches of snow so it was a great trip.  A couple of weeks later we came back to continue where we left off.  That particular Sunday I was going to lead worship and the church would vote.  We went through the weekend meeting one amazing person after another, and as Sunday came, I led worship and my family hit the rode back to Mississippi.  On the way back we received the phone call that said “Mt. Carmel is calling you to be the Associate Pastor of Worship and Administration,” we were excited and couldn’t wait to go home and spend the next two weeks packing.

Two weeks later we had our life packed neatly into a 26′ Penske truck.  Ok, so I will pause here and say it wasn’t neatly packed.  We tried, but it was to much to keep neatly packed, so by the time we got there it looked like we just threw stuff in there at random.  I digress. We arrived in Cross Plains, TN which is situated just a bit north of Nashville, TN. We were met with several men that were ready to unload that truck, which took about 45 minutes.  What took us a whole day to pack took 45 minutes to unpack and put in the house.  My wife and I worked most of the night and all day the next day getting it situated and by Saturday night we were comfortably in our home.  We were glad to be there.

Here is the beautiful piece of this whole puzzling, winding, strange trip.  There was peace.  Most moves are stressful, especially a move 4 hours from your home, but there  was this perfect peace that comes only from God himself.  I think of Isaiah 26:3 which says “You  keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts you.” We kept trusting God through this process and we kept our minds fixed of God and what He was doing in our lives.  His plan was for us to be here in Cross Plains, TN and my wife and I including our kids are all on the same page.  It feels like we have lived here all of our lives.

There are many more details I could get into that were trying, troubling and down right scary, but God was faithful as we remained faithful to Him.  We serve a great God and sometimes we get so caught up in our circumstances that we fail to miss who God is in our lives and the work he is doing.  If there is any take away for any of you reading this it is this.  Keep your mind focused on God and trust Him through any and every circumstance.  It isn’t something magical, it’s real, it’s where our faithfulness meets His and everything that comes from it may be strange, may be a little weird, may be a little scary at times, but in the end we can say we have peace.

In Christ,

Steven

 

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