I woke up this morning with life feeling very… weightless. As I considered my life it just felt without definition and clarity. Have you ever felt that way? I’m pretty convinced that everyone has those moments. I suppose we can try to dismiss/discount them as “negativity” or bad dreams or silly thoughts but I’m pretty sure they are, like every other moment in life, an opportunity to turn and hear from God.
So I prayed. And as I confessed my feelings of weightlessness, of a lack of definition in my life the voice of God prodded me back. Back to my own story with Him. I began to remember in prayer my own history and how my story has grounded me and given weight and definition to my life here and now and a renewed purpose and clarity to my future.
- the wonder, confusion and excitement of beginning to discern a greater calling on my life that cold winter night in January of 1993 up in the north woods of Michigan as I talked late into the night with my mentor and friend, Bob Wright.
- the raw faith as I entrusted myself and my young wife to God for our move from rural Indiana to the foreign world of Chicago for ministry training back in the winter of 1994/95.
- the sense of home that settled over us almost immediately as we sat gazing out our 9th floor sliding glass doors over the brown line L tracks and the Cabrini Green housing project.
- the conviction that God was calling us into a longer journey in Chicago than we had anticipated when we moved into “the neighborhood” (Humboldt Park) in the Spring of 1996. During that season the city went from being a place to get training to a place with faces and names and needs. It was our Macedonian call season.
- the vision clarity I experienced in 1998 and 1999 as I wrestled with a good friend to get to the heart of what ministry should look like on the ground in the city. I came out of that period convinced of two things: 1) that the church was God’s plan A for redeeming the world and 2) that God was setting me apart for the purpose of raising leaders and planting churches. I still remember the settled sense of conviction I had as we left the parachurch ministry we were working with and headed out into church planting, unprepared but full of faith.
- the tears and anxiety and fear as we sat on the couch on Labor Day, 2000 and Gil asked me through her angry tears, “are you sure God is calling us to be here?” and then the deep sense of confidence as I gulped and prayed and answered simply, “Yes.” I still remember the way her face changed in that very moment as she responded: “Okay. I just had to know that you are hearing from God if we’re going to keep doing this.”
- the firmness of godly leadership when we shutdown our first church plant experience a year later, November of 2001. At that time we were confused about where we’d come from and where we going–everything seemed suddenly up for grabs again. But during that season we learned the value of godly leadership and a strong team. Mark Jobe and Mike Berry were huge in that season.
- the process of discovery as I wrestled with new and varied ministry tasks and began to discover more specific ministry gifting. I was paying the dues of learning leadership through trial and error within the context of a strong and healthy team and it was a strong season of growth.
- the discovery that God had wired me and called me specifically to pastor in Chicago and that I would raise leaders and plant churches while pastoring one myself as I anticipated ordination in May of 2004.
- the satisfaction with releasing leaders and seeing them contribute to the birth of 3 new locations over the last 18 months.
- the sense of God’s “yes” and “amen” over the new group of men I’m doing life with–men that are leading in our congregations and men with a call of God on their life.
As I prayed through my own story, my life regained its weightiness. I remembered. And as I remembered I regained footing for the future. I remembered my way forward. Is your life lacking weight? It is time to review your own story.
- What has God shown you in your past with Him?
- What hard-earned lessons have you already learned in your life with Him?
- What were your past God-moments saying to you about your future back then?
- Are you living in the path of what God has already shown you?
- How is your past God story guiding your future God story?
Remember your way forward.