A New Year has started, which often serves as a time when we make plans for a new beginning. The New Year also gives us the chance to reflect upon the past year. The reflection can be a time of regret, as we see all that we did not accomplish, but it can also be a time to pause and consider the ways that God has worked in the past year.
For my family and me, it 2014 was a year of changes. In March, we moved to Yazoo City after spending the entirety of our years in Arkansas. We bought our first house, as we had always lived in parsonages provided by the churches I served. After being out of school for over 10 years, Jennifer had to take a test to be able to get a pharmacist license in Mississippi. It was the first time my children had to make adjustments associated with a move, which meant a new school and new babysitter. Of course, we had to learn new names and establish new friendships. In the midst of change, I finally published my book that I had worked on for over a year. It was a year of change, which made it a year of learning.
As I reflect back on 2014, here are some of the lessons I learned- or really they are lessons that I was reminded:
God’s timing is perfect. For over eight months in 2013, I was engaged in some degree to various churches looking for a pastor. Each of them contacted me through the recommendation of friends, and we considered that each of them could be the next place of service that God had for us, as we knew that a move was coming. It was frustrating to see at least three places not be the one, and we had never considered leaving Arkansas. After coming to interview at Yazoo City, we waited as the Lord worked in our lives and the lives of the search committee. When the call was issued, it was evident that we had found the place God intended it to be, and the time of waiting made it even more sweeter.
God takes care of the details. As we considered a move, we wondered about the job situation for Jennifer and the school situation for the kids. When we interviewed at Yazoo City and I asked about the pharmacy job market and the mentioned the probability of Jennifer having to work on Sundays if she worked for a major corporation, a committee member responded that a family in the church had just opened a new pharmacy and they would check with them on our behalf. To make a long story short, Jennifer was given a job without the owners ever meeting her or seeing a resume! (Shop at Yazoo Drug if you are local!) The education options were excellent. The perfect home for us was available- after it had been removed from the market. I could go on and on, but bottom line is that God had all the details worked out. I needed that reminder, as those were the things that caused me to worry.
You cannot out give God. I have said those words numerous times in sermons, as I preach of the need to be good stewards. As we bought a home, we wiped out savings, then had to replace a major part on an air conditioner unit. It took a couple of months before Jennifer could get to work, so our income was down and we now had a mortgage. When she did start to work, she works less (which is good) than before, so we have made some financial adjustments. While there were times it was tempting not to, we continued to tithe faithfully, as well as give above the tithe. Let’s just say that God has provided!
Relationships are vital to smooth transitions. It is tough to leave a place of ministry where you poured your heart in and loved the people. Those relationships do not go away, but they are different with the distance and the need for them to accept their new pastor. We are further away from family than ever, but the people in Yazoo City have been great to accept us and befriend us. I will always be indebted to the softball coaches from the church that drafted Addison so that we would know someone, for they were the key to a smooth transition for her.
My wife is awesome. I know this all the time, but this year served as a reminder, as Jennifer was the one who had to sacrifice in order for us to be faithful to God’s leadership. After 10+ years of marriage, my love for her continues to grow as we follow the Lord together.
I cannot wait to see what 2015 holds. I will probably need to re-learn these same lessons!