Friday, May 15, 2015

In Time

I'm in a coffee shop hanging out while Joel is at his graduation rehearsal. Tonight he will walk across the stage to celebrate earning his Master of Arts degree in Biblical Studies from Luther Rice College & Seminary.

I'm incredibly proud of this great accomplishment. It marks the ending (maybe) of a transitional time for our family. Three years ago we left staff at GFA, where we served for almost 5 years. The ministry was preparing for some significant changes (building a new campus in east Texas), which would require the entire staff to sell their homes, move, and either live on campus or find housing in the rural area. We didn't feel the move was right for our family and Joel's desire to pastor a church had never waned. In fact, it seemed to be growing. We started talking about the future and what to do. Knowing Joel always wanted to attend seminary, we decided we would make some big changes and make it work.

Back when we were first praying about moving to Texas, I made two lists. One list said "reasons to stay" (in Pennsylvania) and one said "reasons to go" (to Texas). Obviously, we wanted to go where "God called us". But, that can be tricky to decipher. [That's a whole other post...and question to ponder for a lifetime.] So, I felt led to make a list. Pros and cons. Look at the choices. Make a decision after weighing all the factors. God used that list to confirm that we were supposed to join staff at GFA and move to Texas. During our interview in Texas, one of the leaders said something that could have been a direct quote from what I wrote on the "reasons to go" list. Because of how that played out, I never doubted if we made the "right" choice. When it was time to leave GFA, the pieces all fell into place so quickly and perfectly that I never doubted that decision either. You see, we were "toying" with idea of me going back to teaching and Joel finding a part-time ministry job while going to school full-time. Within a month, I had a job--at my kids' school nonetheless--and Joel was hired by a church--right near his seminary!

It has been a fun, challenging, growing, long, exciting, stressful, and quick 3 years (note the mixture of emotions). Joel graduates today. It is official. He is finished with his degree. We can move on to the next phase of life. We are hopeful.

What makes me laugh about the way it all worked...one of the things on the "reasons to go" (to Texas) list was the ability for Joel to go to seminary. I knew there were many seminaries in the DFW area and with Joel working a weekday ministry job, he would have evenings and weekends available to do seminary. Ha! I was totally wrong. First of all, he couldn't do seminary while serving at GFA. And, when he finally did start seminary, he only went to a Texas school for one semester! He is graduating from a school based in Atlanta. His program was completely online and this is only the second time we've been on the campus. (The festivities aren't even on the campus; he only picked up his cap and gown and packet on campus.)

This all struck me in a new way as I was sitting in the coffee shop doing my Boundaries study this afternoon. The question was posed "When have you experienced the fulfillment of a God-given desire? Be specific about the circumstances and your feelings." I instantly wrote "We desired for Joel to attend seminary. He did it. He's done. It didn't happen in OUR timing or in OUR way, but God allowed it and has blessed it." 

It's a great accomplishment for us both--to have sought the Lord and followed Him in obedience. With much hard work and many long hours, he did it. We are celebrating!