1 Thessalonians 5:18
Give thanks in all circumstance,
for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
I’ve been reminiscing a lot lately, which is quite unusual as I tend to be someone who looks ahead, anticipating what’s next. Perhaps my new-found propensity to look back has been spurred by a significant change of routine the past year and a half. In the fall of 2014, my family and I transitioned from ten years of service at Twin Rocks Friends Camp to return to our roots in Newberg. I anticipated feeling overwhelmed by this change, but I’ve actually experienced the opposite: comfort, fulfillment, and peace.
I feared that upon leaving a position within full-time Christian ministry I might actually be less blessed by God. While that sounds incredibly foolish, I still get caught thinking that my best efforts equate with the assurance of God’s blessings. With that, I expected to experience remorse and endure challenges as a result of leaving a ministry position. If you’ve ever worked in any sort of full-time ministry, then you likely understand that there are a lot of high-highs and just as many low-lows, but never enough time to process any of them. Within my day to day, there was an awkward tension of deep joy and sheer exhaustion. To be frank, my “stress-joy” ratio had been growing more and more out of sync, causing me to believe that God might actually smite me due to my decision to leave traditional full-time ministry for a more “ordinary” job at George Fox.
What I’ve actually experienced these past 18 months has surprised me. I find comfort in home and surroundings, embracing daily routines with family and enjoying the cultivation of friendship with our neighbors. I experience fulfillment as I go to my job each day and work closely with students in an effort to help them achieve their goals. Each day I get to invite students to examine their calling and, hopefully, equip them to embrace and move toward it. Most of all, there has been a deepening sense of peace that causes me to pause every now and then, to take in the moment. This leads me to wonder more about the nature of God’s will. Is it possible that being in the center of God’s will has less to do with one’s location or vocation (where we are and what we do) and more about humbly accepting God’s gifts and realizing he loves us more for who we are regardless of what we do? For me, God’s will might just be discovering freedom in the consistency and simplicity of this season of life, allowing me moments to reflect on the past, cherish the present, and let the future worry about itself.