Finding Your Way
The hard thing about faith is one never gets a detailed roadmap of the next stage of the journey. A hunch, perhaps. On occasion, a strong intuition. Maybe even a flash of lightning in the night that illuminates the next few steps. But a detailed blueprint of how God's mysterious grace will unfold in the warp and woof of daily life? Never. At least never for me.
No, in my experience, faith sees most clearly looking back. Only living the adventure supplies the dust that makes God's fingerprints appear.
When I received the call to come as pastor of First, Macon, in the summer of 1996, the hardest part was telling my daughter, Whitney, she would not be entering high school that fall in Danville, Virginia. Hearing this, she wept and trembled in my lap, inconsolable at the thought of leaving beloved friends and a once cherished future behind.
But Whitney proved resilient, as always, and made up her mind to make the best of a bad situation. With the help of new friends at FBCX, she felt welcomed and affirmed. Stanley Roberts began to coax out of her a beautiful voice that up till then, no one knew she had. Whitney met some really sharp high school students, both within and beyond the church, that called forth academic and athletic excellence in her. (Forgive me, Bulldogs, but honesty compels me to say that many of the best and brightest were headed for Tech!) Suddenly, the University of Virginia did not hold the allure it once did and yet another Yellow Jacket was born.
While at Tech, Whitney fell for a tall, blond, good-looking kid from Knoxville. Eventually, they married at a beautiful ceremony in the historic sanctuary of the First Baptist Church of Christ in Macon, Georgia, and went on to fulfilling careers in D.C. and northern Virginia. While there, they finally got around to what God was planning all along which was, of course, my grandson!
None of this was part of the "call," as I understood it, when I accepted the invitation in 1996 to come as pastor of this great church. But God used this church to shape and sculpt my family and me in some surprising and wonderful ways.
And someday, in the not too distant future, God is going to bless yet another minister with the privilege of coming to serve as pastor of this great church. He or she doesn't know it yet, but that person (and his or her family) is about to be profoundly changed for the better. Because God has no finer wand with which to work God's providential magic . . . than you.
Yes faith, like hindsight, only sees 20/20 looking back. So I don't profess to know exactly what's coming next for First Church, Macon, or her new pastor, but I know it's going to be good.