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?

Our Upcoming “Great Adventure”

When I first talked to my publisher about Radically Normal, I asked him how it might do. He first warned me that most books don’t sell that many copies, but said, “With God’s help, this book has the potential to do really, really well.”

Of course everyone wants to be successful, but for Marilyn and I, this is far bigger than winning the book writer’s version of the lottery. We believe that millions of Christians live under the fear that they can’t please God in their regular, everyday life, and that God is going to use this message to set them free.

After a lot of prayer, we believe God is calling us to “bet the farm” – put our house up for sale and prepare for a year-long trip around the U.S., speaking at churches, schools, and bookstores. Our hope is to build a grassroots excitement that spreads into something much bigger. As crazy (dare I say “radical”?) as this plan sounds, it feels like God is leading us into a great adventure.

Can God use a fortune cookie for confirmation?


Now I want to ask you – do you want to be a part of this adventure? I can’t promise that all this will make Radically Normal into a bestseller, but it just might. Wouldn’t it be cool if you could say “I helped!”?

Our biggest need isn’t financial but places to speak, sell the book, and stay. Think through some of the connections you have – do you know of some organization that may really enjoy Radically Normal? If you can connect me with them I’ll take care of the rest. And if they invite me to speak, I’d love to send you an autographed copy, thanking you for your part in this adventure.

We hope to arrive at our first stop (Portland, OR) the first week of October, so time is of the essence. If you have any ideas, please contact me at me@joshkelley.ink. Thank you for your prayers and support!

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