Divine Deception

11427290_10153351229973704_4814296511228219245_oAs most of you know, my family and I just returned from our eight-month, 40-state (and 2 province) road trip. Over the next several months, I’m going to post various stories about our adventure, from watching cowboys joust to meeting the pastor of “The Most Bombed Church in America.”

But first, I want to tell you a little more about the trip and how it began with a divine deception.

When we started our planning, I thought it would primarily be a book tour for my recently released book, Radically Normal. Sure, I knew we’d get to see some amazing sights and get a break from the brutal ministry experiences we’d been through, but that was secondary to the business aspect.

And this is where God tricked me. Early in the planning of the trip, the pastor of a church in Oregon invited me to speak at his church. The timing was perfect – he wanted me for the very first Sunday of our trip. Coincidence? I thought not. I was sure that meant I’d have speaking engagements almost every Sunday thereafter.

Not so. It’d be another four months before I spoke at another church. (For the record, my wife had far more realistic expectations.)

I spent the next several month frustrated by the lack of speaking engagements. Try as I might, I was only able to get a handful of small events. I wasn’t just frustrated, I was confused. What had I missed? What was God doing?

About halfway through the trip, relaxing in a hot tub somewhere in central Florida, I thought, “You know, this is really is a nice break from all that we went through over the last four years of ministry.”

Then it dawned on me, this trip wasn’t just about business, it was a much needed sabbatical. After all the pain we’d been through, we needed this trip to be refreshed and recharged. I needed to regain a heart for ministry.

Later that night, I wrote in my journal: “I don’t know why it took me so long to see that this trip was also a sabbatical. Yes I do know why; I was too busy being anxious. Isn’t that just like us – to be so busy striving that we can’t see the gift God is giving us?”

In my anxiousness to launch Radically Normal, I wasn’t willing to take the break I really needed. I thought I had too much to do, so God had to trick me into taking a break.

Sometimes God has to trick us because our plans are not his plans.

That is not to say that his plans always involve a hot tub, but they are always best. They always bring the greatest long-term joy and peace.

And so, even as my family has come back home and is living in the midst of even more uncertainty – Where are we going to live? Should I go back to pastoring? – I think I’m in a much better place to relax and enjoy the ride.

How about you: Have you ever tricked your kids into doing what you knew they really wanted? Have you ever felt as if God tricked you like that?

And So It Begins…(And So Does the Fear)

This morning at 10:00 am we pulled our heavy-laden Sienna mini-van out of Skagit Valley for the last time in a long time.

Last night, at our going away party, several people praised our “courage” and “faith.” At the time, I shrugged it off because it didn’t feel like faith, just going on an adventure we believe God has called us to. But now, as reality sets in, the worry begins. How will my family handle this nomadic life? Will I make enough money? Will I get more speaking tours?

It is far easier to have faith about a distant event than a current reality.

Yet I know that God is faithful. He did not lead us this far to abandon us. Now is when the real work of faith begins, when we put our feet to it.

So pray for us. We are enjoying the trip, but we need your prayers. We are grateful for your partnership.

To the glory of God and the joy of the saints!


Fair-weather followers

Reading for Friday, May 06, 2011: John 12

In John 12, Jesus is welcomed into Jerusalem by  a large adoring crowd, but in less than a week they would be shouting “Crucify!” What happened? They expected Jesus to rescue them from the Romans, but when he let them down, they crucified him, not knowing (or caring) that he wanted to give them something far better than political freedom.

Do you think you would have done any different? Look at how you respond when God doesn’t take care of you the way you want him to. Do you get mad and sulk? Doubt his goodness? Or lean into him even more?