Coming up to Medford, OR has been a trip for meeting and getting acquainted with our newborn Nephew. Such a joy to see family come together for purposes of new life and new dimensions of connecting and bonding. It can be tricky to take these moments in the middle of a work week or in the middle of so much going on. Yet, it seems God continues to redeem the past for his work in the present, if you let him.
I was needing to write and study more for this Sunday’s start to the series on the book of James (such a practical and important book) and it seemed there was trial after trial of getting to that spot of receiving from God the direction for this weekend.
As I explored Medford for a premier Coffee location, I found myself in the corner of a cafe with a plug to keep my MacBook juiced and free refills to keep me going. However, I kept hearing key words coming from the table with two gentlemen next to me.
Words like…”Nazarene”…”Ministry”… “I don’t know”….”frustration”… kept pinging my attention (iwatch wearers understand this).
I asked God if he wanted me to talk to the young man, even though my approach may be a bit out of the blue. I felt this deep confirmation that this was why I was here and not to let the opportunity go by.
As I prepared myself for any response and as I got my refill, I noticed his campus card for Medford first Church of the Nazarene. I was certain that God had led me here not only for preparation of Sunday, but to encourage this young pastor (wait, I’m young too!)
As I introduced myself, his smile went from a normal encounter to one of curiosity and a bit pensive when I told him God is leading me to talk to him. I quickly identified myself as another Nazarene Church Pastor so his guard went down, a sort of “Hey, I am on your team” kind of exchange and I just rolled with what was on my heart.
Turns out he was where I stood back in 2012. He felt God was calling him forward, but was worried about taking a step that took him away from home and where that would lead. I encouraged him that in my experience, it came to a point where I had to no longer say to Jesus, “I will follow you, BUT…”
That “BUT” was a good reason, but it wasn’t the right response in one who follows after Jesus, even though it means sacrifice and risk. (Consider Abraham)
I asked him if he was holding onto something that prevented him from complete trust, and he stated he was. I encouraged him that if we had a “Mirror” that showed us what was around the corner of life, “a diagnosis, loss, lack of clarity” then we would naturally have reason’s to not trust that God was leading us in a way that was good, and for our benefit.
I could tell by the look in his watery eyes that I hit a nerve. He admitted that he needs to trust God and stop trying to find a way on his own with that he was trying to control. I encouraged him, “None of us can see around the corner, but we must keep going”.
He thanked me and was amazed that God had sent me. I too was amazed He had as well as I felt a larger sense of God redeeming the steps of faith I took back in 2012. It was one of the hardest seasons of my life, but I do not regret risking my insecurity on the security and goodness of God’s care and provision.
No matter the corner ahead you can’t see around, God is already there and is seeking you to let nothing be a block to answering the Call to saying with full abandonment “Yes Jesus, I will follow you!”