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Here we go.
Confidence in the ministerial mandate.
Well, we made it to Pennsylvania. Natalie and I completed the final leg of the journey northward last weekend after spending some time with my parents in South Carolina. We drove through the night on Friday and arrived in Pennsylvania last Saturday morning, spending the bulk of Saturday resting and recouping. We were blessed, however, by several visitors who have already made us feel at home, bringing meals and groceries and household items and local wisdom that disclosed their sincerity and thoughtfulness. Our hearts are brimming with gratitude at the outpouring of generosity with which we’ve been furnished.
I don’t think it has fully settled in that we are now Pennsylvanians, though. That might take some time, seeing as both Natalie and I are true Floridians. Leaving the Sunshine State was incredibly difficult. Not because we loved the climate or the handy access to both Gulf and Atlantic beaches, but because of the memories made and shared there. Moving to Florida from South Carolina back in 2013 was extraordinarily formative for Natalie and me, myself especially. Though I was born in Florida, South Carolina was my home. It was where I grew up. Friends and family all called South Carolina home as well. Such is why, to my happy surprise, Florida became just as dear to my heart as South Carolina. There is an abundance of experiences that will leave lifelong impressions on my mind and on my soul. Florida will always remain immensely special to us.
It’s where Natalie and I truly started our life together.
It’s where we started a family.
It’s where we learned what to trust.
It’s where we learned Who to trust.
It’s where our faith became real because faith is all we had.
I am so grateful for all we were able to experience during our time there. All the ups and downs, the happiness and the hurt, the seasons of plenty and want, will all prove to be beneficial to us in the long run.
But now we are opening a new chapter. We are embracing a new challenge, a new calling: life and ministry in Pennsylvania.
The prospect of moving to Pennsylvania seemed far-fetched, at first. The only thing that would make two native Floridians move their lives this far north is the certainty of God’s call. Such is what we both felt upon our first visit here back in February. Natalie and I both know there will be days, weeks, and seasons of adjustment ahead. We both understand the difficulties such newness presents. But we also know that God has called us to this place, to these people, for this purpose. He has evidenced his sovereignty at every juncture. Whenever I’ve doubted the road ahead, I’ve been confronted by the merciful patience of my Heavenly Father, who continually demonstrates himself as exceedingly sufficient and abounding in steadfast love. He is more than enough. He is great in faithfulness.
The prospect of ministry, too, has increasingly weighed heavily on my heart, mind, and soul. Though I have studied and continue to study and read and learn what makes for a successful pastor, pastoral ministry is very much an experiential occupation. That is, it necessitates involving yourself in the lives of those around you, with whatever that entails. Without entirely jettisoning the scholastic rhetoric, The pastorate, I believe, is about making the complex simplicity of “God for us” an everyday reality with genuine dexterity and sincerity. I feel woefully inadequate for such a task. But notwithstanding my inhibitions, it is an indisputable fact of the gospel that God has specially designated the foolish, the weak, and the insignificant as his prime agents in the mission of propagating the truth of his Name and Word (1 Cor. 1:26–31). Such is why I step out in confidence in this ministerial mandate, not because of any proficiency I feel in myself, but because of God’s inexpressible grace which has pillared my heart, mind, and soul.
Natalie and I are, indeed, ready to spend and be spent for Christ’s sake. We aren’t out to make names for ourselves or to garner any kind of following. Our sincerest desire is to uphold the timeless truths of the gospel in every walk of life, in every season, for every person. So long as Christ is exalted, that is enough.
For those who’ve prayed for us and expressed their joy for us and this next chapter of life, we are indebted to your prayer and support. It is a truly incredible thing to know that there are folks praying for you, bringing your names before the Lord’s feet. And Natalie and I have felt those prayers immensely. The manner in which these last several weeks and months have worked out can only be a result of God’s Spirit exerting his sovereign mercy in and on us. From the bottom of my heart, thank you!
God be with you.