Friday, December 24, 2010


A Year in the Wilderness
The picture I left you with in my last post shows the setting for my current wilderness experience.  If you recognize the picture, you may think that I’ve lost my marbles.  The picture is of Kaneohe Bay, a large coastal bay on the windward side of Oahu.  Life on a tropical island…wilderness experience…I don’t get it.  Trust me I understand the disconnect.
The move to a new church on Oahu came as a complete surprise to me.   If God had followed my timing, we would have stayed in Murrieta for at least one more year.  We would have gotten our son through High School, gotten him off to college, consolidated into an empty nest life and then get an appointment in the Hawaii District.  I had hoped, one day, to come and serve here.  Over the years that we’ve travelled and vacationed here I found a great affinity for the islands, the culture and the unique ways that I experienced God while I was here.  I felt a calling to be here.  Now here I am…yet it is not exactly how I would have planned. 
I’m here by myself.  Because we didn’t want to move our son for his Senior year, Sally stayed in Murrieta with him to enable him to finish school.  While several trips have been planned back and forth throughout the year, we have unlimited texting and mobile to mobile and certainly take advantage of the miracle that is Skype, its not the same as waking up each day in the same house.  The blessing in this arrangement is that we must be more intentional about our time together and the ways we communicate.  It has shined a light on the ways that we have taken each other for granted in our family relationship. This awareness has enabled us to claim a deeper love for and commitment to each other.
Spiritually and professionally I came here fatigued.  With all that had happened personally, spiritually and professionally in the last five years I was pretty worn out.  Even though I did have a sense of it, I was so caught up in the maelstrom that had become my life and ministry that I felt powerless to slow down.  I needed to change my sense of self, my approach to ministry and get a better understanding of what God is calling me to do.  I had travelled so far down the road I was on, I simply didn’t see how to make the changes I knew were necessary.  As is always the case, God knew.  I was given a choice. 
The choice involved risk.  The choice involved sacrifice.  While this opportunity was consistent with my heart’s desire, the timing sucked.  Just like the timing of going to Murrieta was not our timing, we struggled with the cost of saying “yes” to this call.  Would we trust God’s hand in this or not?  The short answer is:  we trusted.  I’m here…my family is on the mainland…God is still at work in all of it.  As has been witnessed to through the history of people of faith, God has abundantly poured out grace in our lives.  It hasn’t always been easy these last 6 months.  Because we have been willing to trust, to listen and to faithfully walk, the trend of our lives has been toward healing, redemption and transformation.
I will continue the story in future posts, but for now, I can say unequivocally that God’s hand goes all the way to the bottom of this move.  As difficult as it was to change ministry setting after 10 years and to leave the friends that had come to mean so much, I know why the time had come.  I know why I’m here.  I know what God is calling me to do here.  More importantly, I know more fully now than at anytime previously in my life who God is calling me to be.  The personal brokenness that got in the way of fulfilling that call is being healed.  A new day has dawned.

1 comment:

jdbaker said...

J.T. - It is good to have you writing again. I too have begun to change my pilgrimage, and I'm looking forward to reading your thoughts as we both grow. If you are interested, I'm posting my thoughts at http://www.ramonaumc.org/lma.