Monday, August 15, 2016

Calling or Bad Burrito? How did we Discern the will of God? (Part 1)

Since we shared that we were moving to Oxford, PA, we've had many people ask us, "How did we KNOW God was calling us to do that? Wouldn't it make more sense to be in Manchester since we're comfortably connected in the community? Why would we want to leave Encounter Life? Is moving away from our family the right thing to do? Why would God possibly want us to leave this community? What's wrong with Manchester that we don't want to live here anymore? What's wrong with the church that we wouldn't want to continue to serve there? Don't you like your job? Is your family enough to keep you here? The list of questions goes on and on, but the basic question remains the same? How did we know God was calling us and we can trust that we've actually heard from God.

In the next couple of posts, I thought I might try to give you a glimpse into how we made this decision. I think you'll find that we're not running from God and that we don't hate Manchester! As I shared with some people early on in the process, when I looked at the Bible, I believed God was calling us to go. When I looked at circumstances, I thought he was calling us to stay. So, given that, how did we decide to move?

We began the process by being, "open-handed". We prayed to God, individually and as a family, communicating to him that we were willing to do whatever he would want us to do. I'll confess though, I did pray "God I want to be in Manchester, but more than that, I want to be where you're calling us." We used a pretty thorough process to try to determine, as best we could understand, God's will for us. Here the list of the series of things we used:
  1. Prayer
  2. Scripture
  3. Seeking Wise Counsel from godly friends
  4. We visited the Philadelphia area
  5. We participated in the full assessment process with the North American Mission Board
  6. We prayed more!
We'll look at the first three areas in this post! Like I mentioned in the prior paragraph, we began with prayer. We tried to communicate to God that we were his people and we would submit ourselves to his Lordship. That meant we had and have to be open-handed in the way we live. We're trying to do that now in the way we live. Whether we decided to stay or go, we wanted and continue to want God to use us where we're at. 

Second, we tried to consider the Scripture. What does the Bible say about the issue of calling. We felt like we most related to Abraham. It seemed to us that we were either in a season like Abraham experienced in Genesis 12 where God called him to leave his home and go to place that he would reveal to him or we were more like the story of Abraham and Issac and God was calling us to put our total trust in him, but he was going to give clear evidence that though we were willing to go anywhere, he really wanted us to remain in Manchester.

The third thing we did was invite a few of our friends and family members to speak into our lives. We asked them if they believed God would call us to plant a church somewhere else. In other words, did they see that giftedness in Jodi and me. Did they believe God could use us in the Northeast? I hear the people are different there. They don't even drink sweet tea. Crazy, I know! We were also asked a lot of questions about our current situation. Were we running from something? Was there some reason we wanted to get out of Manchester? All of these questions and conversations helped us think through the situation. Our friends' prayers, thoughts and feedback helped us evaluate our situation and think honestly about our motivation to consider moving from Manchester.

In an effort to keep the post shorter, I'll finish sharing the process in the next post! Thanks for taking time to read!

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