I often times find myself referring to myself as a “Recent College Graduate”, like it happened only 5 months ago. The truth is I have been out of College for over a year now. Almost a year and a half to be exact. I think if someone would have told me that my first year out of College would be the most unpredictable year of my life I would have certainly said “YEAH RIGHT!” But sadly, this has been exactly that. A year full of ups and downs, unexpected twists and turns, heart ache, victory, excitement, struggle, trust. A roller coaster of sorts. During one of my long runs the other day (yep, Im still at it even after blogging about it), I found myself searching for new paths and new trails to run. I often times switch it up so that I can see some new scenery instead of the same mundane roads day after day. I began thinking about the last year or so of my life. Where I had been, where I was going. Truthfully besides the location I am at, I cannot honestly say I know where God is going to lead me. I wonder what early explorers in History felt like. How about Christopher Columbus and the early settlers setting out in search for a New Land? They were willing to leave comfort for something completely unknown. Or what about Men and Women from Scripture. Adam? Eve? Noah? That guy was seen as insane for building an Ark when it hadn’t rained in years. Moses? He claimed a Burning Bush spoke to him…um..really? I would have loved to see the looks on Pharaohs face during that conversation. Joshua? He prayed that the Sun would Stand Still. Anybody ever seen that happen before? Yeah me neither. Paul, one of the most successful Church Planters in History. He was thrown in prison for preaching the Gospel and then converted half, if not most of the prison guards. The Bible alone gives us story after story of men and women who set out to explore new territory. Their stories are much like mine and yours. We feel God leading us to step out in faith. In the beginning we are so excited because we completely believe in the vision and provision of God. Months go by maybe years and along the way life happens. You lose people close to you, you lose your job, people criticize you and wonder what the heck your doing. It takes a toll. So naturally as human beings we get weary and begin to automatically question God and why he seemingly has changed. The truth is God hasn’t changed, but we have. Maybe its because of a lack of faith or maybe its because we have been in the process of growth and refinement. We always want to go back to a certain point when our lives were “easier” or so it seemed that way. But in reality, even the “Glory Days” had their share of struggles. They were never perfect, though at this point maybe they seem that way. What if all the people mentioned above had gone back to when things were “great”? We would most likely have no North America thanks to Christopher Columbus. Yep no Freedom. Noah wouldn’t have built an Ark, and all humanity would have been wiped out. We would have no Animals! (Okay maybe thats a far stretch). Moses would have led the Israelites right back to Egypt to remain in slavery and captivity. What an exciting life. In this case there would have been no Joshua and especially no promised land. The sun would have set that day and it would have been just another day. Paul would have continued to persecute and murder Christians. Which would have meant that Christianity wouldn’t have spread in the way that it did. There are so many examples of how History would have been changed forever. I could go on and on.
So lets see where we are at. I would have moved away from Panama City long ago because its been hard. I wouldn’t be at East Bay getting the pleasure to lead week in and week out. And I would still be in College. Sounds ridiculous as I write it down and read it, I honestly have to smile because it makes no sense. What about you? How would your story have changed?
As a Church we at Northstar are entering into exploring some new territory. In order to fulfill our vision and mission of HELPING THE WHOLE WORLD FIND AND FOLLOW JESUS, we are going to be launching multiple campuses eventually. East Bay is only the beginning of where God is going to lead us. Along the way we are going to experience great successes and excitement. We will see thousands of people come to know Christ and the freedom that his name brings. But we will also have heartache, struggle, and trial. Its only a natural part of life. And anything that God speaks is going to take commitment. If we were able to plant 25+ Campuses right now we would have already done it. God always works at his timing and not ours. We have to continue to press on and set our sights on Christ and his leading. I pray that we will never be satisfied going back to a time when things seemed easier. The truth is the future is here. The time is now. We have to stand firm and hold tight to the Cross. Embrace where God is leading us. Hold on tight, theres new territory to explore for the sake of Christ and his Gospel.