So much of the time we’ve trained our selves to look at Jesus affection and assume material gain and temporal comfort best align with what he would desire for us. We may speak differently to one another but our prayers and our words to God reflect a different reality. Most often we readily identify this reality in Christian brothers and sisters around us and never see it in ourselves.
Our story won’t be taking us to Austin, at least not right now. To be transparent, funding simply never came in; but more than just that it became apparent that shepherding my wife and our family, loving her (soon to be them) as Jesus loved the church(Eph. 5), meant taking a step back with them in mind. This does not mean that we aren’t called to ministry, or that we weren’t called to Austin. You do not have to look any further than the Acts account of Paul’s ministry to see a biblical example of God given desires for ministry going unfulfilled to better accomplish the glorification of Jesus. I’ve learned to camp in this truth the last few months, it and the affirmation of many Godly men in our lives has been sustaining. Paul sought and desired to do ministry in Spain and routinely God turned his path back to Jerusalem instead; when he wanted to move south he was inhibited, when he tried to move he was turned around around (Acts scrips). We’ve been turned around as well. We’ve been questioned and doubted, but we are confident we have done nothing apart from what God has asked us to do. We are confident that we are doing exactly what he desires now.
We are on the front end of something that the church will have to learn to deal with: student debt. As education costs continue to rise there will be more like us, inhibited from the mission field due to it, doubted in support raising because of it, but no less called. We have done what we could and had to do to get as much of the education men require as possible to do the work God has called us to. Now we wait.
Now we wait not knowing if the day will ever come, in which we lead the church in the way Jesus through his Spirit has gifted and equipped us to do, but our God is faithful. We wait feeling the weight of the hurt that my youthful naivety has caused many around me, but our God is faithful. We wait with questions and a heavy heart, but our God is Faithful. We wait with joy and expectation, because our God is faithful. We wait with rejoicing that we get to continue to be a part of a community of believers at our church and serve alongside them for the glory of King Jesus in a city we love, because our God is faithful. And we wait willingly, with desire and contentment. If this whole life, our ministry, is to continue this waiting for all the days of this temporal fleeting existence, that is alright. We will wait, and hopefully we will do so faithfully, because ultimately it’s about Jesus and because our God is faithful.
What we hope this conveys is a simple truth: Jesus is better. Whatever circumstance you are in, whether you have every God given desire of your heart, or if like us there is some waiting and wondering in your life: Jesus is better. If waiting and hoping for the ministry we believe God has called us to and given us desire for helps to convey the Truth that Jesus is better to the people around us as we wait contently, then we will gladly wait this whole life to convey that message.
I can’t promise the road ahead won’t be bumpy for us, or that we will always live it well. The truth is I won’t. None of us do. But I ask you to extend us some grace in that. There isn’t a blueprint that explains our journey, but in my worst and ugliest moments there is beauty. Just as with our sin, it demands of us and drives back to the foot of the cross, so that we may make much of Jesus. And the beauty of repentance is that we rise again, daily and ultimately eternally, making much of Jesus and praising redemption and resurrection from our sin. I’m convinced this is why God wouldn’t take the thorn from Paul’s side, so that he would be driven to the cross to make much of Jesus and revel in his resurrection.
Thank you all for your prayer and support of us, thank you to those who were ready to financially support, thank you for hard questions and skepticism. Jesus has used it all to refine us, and he is better. We are content to be where God has us but we are looking for where he will ultimately lead us (yes, even if that means no changes). And in waiting we will continue to give, because he has given to us. We will continue to pursue our calling from him, because he first pursued us. We will play our part in his redemption story, because he has redeemed us. We will love the church, because he has loved the church. And we will do it all because Jesus is better and our God is faithful.
Blessings and Merry Christmas,
Doug & Emily