Often times, I find myself stopping somewhere in the living room or hallway and reflecting on the past year of my life.
Truth is, I cannot believe how blessed I am. I have long held the belief that “all of life is grace;” that I should feel owed anything, and expect nothing good or to my benefit – in fact – I should expect the opposite. Ironically, I am also a steadfast optimist.
In light of that worldview, I am frequently brought into a position of gratitude for whatever small measure of joy, peace, and comfort that comes my way. With that being said, I wanted to take a moment and list off some things I am thankful for in the past year:
- My wife – how on earth an introverted young man living in the country met an incredible woman of God, and happened to share multiple friends and connections, and ended up getting married is completely beyond me!
- Our home – When looking for a place to live, several landlords turned us down or demanded unreasonable sums of money because of our financial situation. (For those who don’t know, pastor’s finances are always fuzzy and strange to those who have never seen how Church financials work. Most landlords thought I was a drug smuggler/dealer). Nevertheless, God brought us to a house owned by someone who not only asked 0 questions regarding finances, but – against the listed policy – allowed us to have our dog Bella move in also! Turns out, the landlord is a former director of CRU ministries!
- Theft – while moving in, someone went into my wife’s car and stole her wallet. We had to close down all of her accounts, reissue her IDs and cards… it was a mess. However, our new church family quickly came to our side and supported us in so many ways – through prayers, financial gifts, food donations, and loving messages.
- New neighborhood – despite the instance of crime we experienced, my wife and I commented recently on how fortunate we are to have such good neighbors. They never have loud or obnoxious parties, never leave a mess in their yards, and are always friendly and cordial when we see them outside. Having had bad neighbors before, this is a huge blessing!
- Jobs – after moving to the area, I took on a part time job as a window cleaner. It wasn’t working out after a couple months, so I had to leave the company. However, I was also offered a position (several, actually) by someone in the church. That work has proved to be an enriching part of my life, and my boss is incredibly flexible with me and desires that my top work-priority should be the Campus Ministry. What a blessing!
- Campus Ministry – on that note, I am incredibly thankful that God called me to do something that I love doing – pioneering new ministry initiatives! I have a phenomenal team of supportive, creative people who are passionate about seeing our young people grow in the Lord. And, even though there are certain hurdles and politics to work through, I go to bed excited to wake up and continue working!!
- Time with my wife – When I moved to the area to begin this ministry, the District leaders were adamant that I not begin this right away. I was going to be a newly-wed, and they wanted to make sure that my wife and I had time to spend together before the ministry started. Although it was a brief few months together, I am so blessed that we had that time. It made a huge difference in our relationship!
There is one more story I wanted to tell. In truth, there are many more, but I don’t want to bore anyone…
While on vacation in the Smokey Mountains, my wife and I were driving up an incline to our cabin. On the last incline, a tee-connector for my van’s coolant system broke and sprayed the entire system’s coolant onto the engine. We were stranded in our cabin.
We were able to get a Lyft from a man named Michael, who drive 20 minutes just to pick us up. He helped us again a couple days later – the only Lyft driver in the area. He was a blessing to us, certainly.
But, what stunned me the most was that, in spite of all of the hills and mountains we drove through to get to the cabin, that broken tee-connector didn’t give-way until the very last hill. It could have given out at any moment. In fact, upon discussing it together, we figured that the tee-connector had been cracked for at least a few weeks prior to our trip.
I am convinced that it was an act of grace from God that our van held together all the way until we were safely within reach of our cabin. Then, having been stuck there, we were forced to spend quality time together for a few days.
I tell that last story to illustrate how this past year of my life has been. God is constantly at work, always watching over us, and knows exactly what we need and when we need it.
Life following Christ is not always comfortable, but it is always worth it.