5 Years Ago
Today is kind of a big day for me. 5 years ago I walked into a room, looking to kill some time, but instead my life has forever been changed. Here’s the shortened version:
January 3rd, 2007: I remember where I was. It’s easy to recollect the details of that day because the words of Jesus seemed to scribble an indelible, unerasable message on the tablets of my soul. Standing in Atlanta, Georgia at a gathering for college students, I heard him speak. Not in a weird audible way, but in a way that would change the direction of my life. Months and even years before this encounter, I knew the Lord was leading me, calling me. I just didn’t know where, or (even) when for that matter. I was content in doing what I had been doing, youth and college ministry. But that day, all of that changed. As I stood and read some facts about a city that I had never visited, much less lived in, I found myself in the middle of a calling. But God knew what He was up to. I read that there are more than 250,000 college students who attend school every year in the Boston Metro area. I also read that in Boston less than 4% of the adult population profess to be born again Christians, and that Boston desperately needed more churches. I read a prayer that has effectively changed my life: “Pray for God to lead people to start churches in Boston.” It was after reading this prayer that I knew. I knew that it was Jesus who was speaking into the deepest part of who I was. In that moment Jesus called me, an under-qualified applicant, to start a church in Boston. To make him famous. So that people who don’t know Him, can.
In the days that followed this encounter, I set a timetable and started making plans on how I was going to get there. I had a plan, a 5 year plan. I planned to stay at the church I was on staff at, I planned on raising money, and eventually…5 years down the line, this thing would happen. We would start a church. What I didn’t factor in was the way that God was going to change me, mold me, break me, wrestle with me, challenge me, encourage me, feed me, protect me, and love me. Now 5 years later to the day, looking back, those initial plans I made seem foolish. Sure the 5 years since walking into that room haven’t been easy, in fact quite the opposite. I’m just beginning to see what God’s been up to the past couple of years. He’s still working on me. And His 5 year plan has been so much more beautiful than mine would have been. We have come out stronger, more empathetic, and drenched in grace and mercy. We would have missed most of that if He would have let me do it my way.
I don’t pretend to know what this year holds. I’m sure some heartache will creep in, or perhaps it’ll smack me right in the face, or maybe, just maybe this year will be the year that the other years have been leading up to. Maybe in this 5th year some doors will open, supernaturally. Maybe I’ll walk into a room this year, looking to kill some time, and my life will be forever changed, again. Or maybe it’s already being changed. Whatever happens, I know, more than I ever have, that God loves me. He loves me.