Backstory on why I needed cheering up. This journey of Sabbatical does not date back to October when I resigned. No, it is a 2 year old journey, with God doing the most stuff since July. The journey started December 2016 when God started doing something in my life that He does in the lives of people who He is preparing for change. He makes them restless and the status quo is no longer acceptable and will never be acceptable. Sometimes He is going to move them, sometimes He is going to use them as a catalyst for change. I was not sure what He was going to do, but I knew that no matter what, change was on the horizon. For 2 years I was receptive, never saying no to whatever the call would be and where it would lead me. I knew God may have me pack up my family and move or God may have me put on my armor here and get ready to do something awesome for Him here, but I was ready.
Well, in July 2018, I attended GROW Leadership Intensive in Birmingham and it was AWESOME!!! AWESOME, AWESOME, AWESOME! God rocked my heart and I knew that leading that conference, I would never be the same! I was ready to do God's work. I was ready to grow the church! I was ready to storm the gates of Hell as a spiritual Navy Seal! I WAS READY! Then God said, Not Yet... WHAT?!?!? NOT YET?????!!!! How can you get me so pumped up and say wait????
So I waited... July, August, September.... I waited. Then God said, it's time to move. "Where to, God?" Out of you comfort zone. Out of the church you have served for 11 years. Out of youth ministry. "But where to God?" Wait... "Wait, again?" Yes, Wait. So, with no prospect of a job, I went to the board of elders and resigned. Crazy, huh?
Fast forward to this week, 1.5 months into a sabbatical... "Hey God, I'm still waiting." My response to God started turning to fear, anxiety, and tears. I started panicking and saying, "Michael, this is the dumbest, most irresponsible thing you have ever done! Who quits a job with no prospect for the future?! How are you going to feed your family?! How are you going to pay the bills! Michael, you are stupid! " Yes, I can be quite self deprecating. Last night I had a chance to share my story with a pastor at a church we were visiting and it was all I could do to not cry. I am finding myself in the back of the room listening to sermons, rather than in the front of the group, sharing the messages that God has put on my heart and that is hard. But, deep in my heart, I know that this all has a purpose... So, I wait... I wait... I wait...
Then, I get the message from Melanie this morning. She was simply sharing a facebook memory and a word of thanks for the message that I shared in this memory. Little did she know that I would begin a new journey for me. See, this message was shared at a fall retreat about 1 month after I landed at Shiloh. Well, I never delete anything, so I just dug into my Bible study archive and found the study. The Power of Passionate Prayer, circa 2007 (Michael at a 32 year old youth pastor). So, God used Melanie to cheer me up and to get me to go talk to 32 year old me about my current circumstances.
At the top of page 2, I saw that we covered the following passage...
And God slapped me. As a matter of fact, He is slapping me right now. HAVE FAITH! I have done what God commanded, I need to have faith! He will provide the job, He will provide the platform, He will provide the destination, He will provide for my family. HAVE FAITH, DO NOT DOUBT!
Matthew 21 - Jesus Gives a Reason for Prayer(18) Early in the morning, as he was on his way back to the city, he was hungry. (19) Seeing a fig tree by the road, he went up to it but found nothing on it except leaves. Then he said to it, "May you never bear fruit again!" Immediately the tree withered.
(20) When the disciples saw this, they were amazed. "How did the fig tree wither so quickly?" they asked.
(21) Jesus replied, "I tell you the truth, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only can you do what was done to the fig tree, but also you can say to this mountain, 'Go, throw yourself into the sea,' and it will be done. (22) If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer."
So, Mel, thank you for being faithful this morning and for your message. As you can see, there was so much more in the words you wrote than you can even begin to imagine and thank you for all the years that you served along side of me at Shiloh. You truly have led worship with your voice and heart for God and I am keeping you in my prayers. God bless! Here is a little throwback pick from the next year at fall retreat to wrap this blog post!
That's all for today!