God could easily have passed Adam and Eve by when they stumbled and fell back in the Garden, so many years ago. Yet, He is a Redeeming God Who slows and walks with us even as we run from Him. I’ve been slowed in the mornings and throughout the days by the reality that God slows and accommodates to our pace to show us His grace. He is all-knowing and infinite in all of His attributes, and yet He slows and goes low to encounter us, friends!
A couple of days ago, a pastor friend of mine, Raf, and I had the chance of running up to a man I’d noticed had fallen over in his wheel chair near Sonora High. We were driving our families in two cars to show Raf’s family Columbia State Park and get dinner together. I’d seen a white-haired older gentleman fallen in his battery-powered wheel chair, and i felt for him and was deeply concerned he was injured as his head was on the ground. It looked like he’d tipped over and fallen pretty hard on the asphalt. Fortunately there were already a few high school students around him, but Raf and I went to check on him anyway. His name is Max and he seems to be a friendly local gentleman with a fun sense of humor and stories to tell. As I got up to where he was, the students had slowed to encounter him, to help him up and gather his belongings. With my lifeguarding background, I felt confident I could help to address any initial health concerns and that Raf’s wife, a P.A. could help with any more major initial concerns. He responded to my questions with, “Oh, I’m fine. I just did something dumb and tried to cross here where the ground is uneven. I have a minor abrasion to my left knee.” He made me smile with his dry sense of humor. He told me I’m a descendent of Leaf Erickson since I have a red beard. He rolled along his way and we chatted for a few more minutes. When I could tell he was okay, Raf and I headed back to continuing on our trip.
What are we doing for people like Max when we don’t see them fallen down? That is a no-brainer for slowing and stopping and encountering Max, but are we encountering him in the marketplace or as we see him sitting peacefully in the park?
My wife and I have begun slowing in our ambitions a bit, wondering if God would have us move back to Merced, CA where my business is located. There, I’ve found so many ministry conversations just in the course of caring for people through my profession. I’ve also encountered so many wonderful people in the community when I’m out introducing myself as the insurance agent in the neighborhood. I struggle with what I’ve done before the Lord to move my family all the way up here into the mountains to try to plant a local church, realizing that I probably humanly-speaking acted too quickly. God comforts me and reminds me of His care and that He doesn’t look upon me as first a sinner but as first and foremost His child. He loves me and works with my mistakes to make them a part of my wife’s and my story. We’re praying and asking God for wisdom, and we do hope to long-term be a part of Tuolumne County ministry and community life in some way in the years to come. One idea is to possibly open a second agency up here in three years or so, but I need to sow to what God has already given me first.
We have in no way decided to move for sure. Rather, we’ve made a firm decision to be indecisive over the last four months. We’ve wanted to go about the decision of whether or not we’ll be moving back to Merced in a much slower way. We’ve asked God to make the decision clear. He’s done some really funny things that have seemed to be pretty clear signs, I’ll admit, but we still haven’t solidified our decision.
Thank you, in advance, for your prayers for us and many of your counsel and encouragement. We will keep you posted regarding our lives. More importantly, let’s all labor together in both counties – Tuolumne and Merced – to live lives that are shapable and ready to go and do or stay and do at God’s leaning instead of our own. I’ll admit I so much enjoy the lay ministry God has given me day-in and day-out, and I’m less desirous to have a title of “pastor” than ever before. If God calls and makes clear a pastoral role in a church in His time, I’m ready to serve, but at this point, Tuolumne County is being poured over by God’s grace. I’ve interviewed and met with dozens of wonderful believers and I believe there is so much investment into this county and wonderful things happening. I love this county and am a firm believer in God’s ability to continued to redeem and transform our lives in many cases through each of us slowing and knowing each other and the lost who Lord-willing will slow and know Him in the near future.