If you were to tell someone how the last twelve months have gone for you, what would you say? Was life hitting on all cylinders? Or have you had some bumps? Would you tell of struggles you encountered? How have things turned out for you? Just as expected? The exact opposite as what you expected? Better than expected? Go ahead…take your time.
While you’re thinking about that, let me remind you of a powerful truth: Things don’t always turn out the way you’d like. It’s just true.
Lately, I’ve been checking the rearview mirror and it has caused me to be deeply grateful. So, if you will stick with me for a moment, I’d like to share with you a closer look at the reasons for my gratitude. I’ll just list out some of my reasons and you can make your own list.
I am thankful that my son is able to attend the college of his choice. I am going to miss him being around in the worst way.
I am grateful that in just four weeks we will launch Real Life UCF – and that will be our the fifth location. Following God is always the right thing to do and I have learned that the longer you follow it only requires greater humility and stronger determination. I would have thought the exact opposite would be true.
I am grateful that God really does order our steps. In doing so, he also allows us to be a part of His story and the bigger picture of his divine plan. More than anything or anyone I wanted to honor God above all. I have learned that sometimes, sometimes but not all the time, giving up honors God as much as carrying on. Not giving up on God or on people. In fact, sometimes, no matter how hard we may desire or work or pray, there is always the possibility that we are released from something and face a necessary ending. That was the case with me.
I am grateful that God calls us to trust during times of transition. I see the recent past as a season of deep prayer and waiting. I am grateful for God’s perfect direction and goodness. I firmly believe that times of transition are great opportunities for spiritual growth and fresh biblical understanding.
I am grateful for Real Life Christian Church. Our family was in transition, and we immediately set out to find a temporary church home with which to serve and worship. Our temporary church home became Real Life Christian Church. When I wasn’t out of town preaching, I began to have a renewed appreciation for the simple aspects of the services through participating at Real Life: things such as sitting with my family during a weekend service, communion, sincere Christ centered worship, biblical teaching, laughter and discussion over lunch about the message that day or about someone we had met.
I am grateful that the ending of one life event means the beginning of another. With this realization, things started to get exciting. I recall talking with over twenty ministries all over the country and was reminded how much good is going on in the kingdom of God. I am glad that so many are working so diligently to love people and share with them the good news of Christ.
I am grateful that on a Tuesday afternoon in July of last year we decided that we were going to start a new church in Central Florida “in the UCF area.” Looking back I clearly see that the Lord was directing that tough decision, but at the time, I was certain that lions awaited at the bottom of the Lion’s Den.
I am grateful that God went before us and prepared the way. “In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps” Proverbs 16:9. God had placed large desires in my heart to have an impact across Central Florida that seemed odd since I had no followers, building, money, or staff. It was and still is my firm belief that the church doesn’t have a vision of what to do for God as much as God’s Vision for mankind has a Church. I am thankful that we walked obediently forward: In August 2012 we began holding information meetings in the homes of people who had expressed a desire to be a part of a new work if we stayed in Central Florida.
I am thankful for churches that help churches. It doesn’t seem common; probably should be more common. God’s favor was shown to us from many congregations: Discovery Christian Church in Cocoa that said their children’s director could help us on a part-time basis; Mission Road Church in Oviedo that reached out and graciously offered their facility for Bible study; Faithdome of Fellowship in Oviedo that made there building available whenever we needed it; and Real Life Christian Church – East Campus that offered the use of their facilities. These church leaders are to be commended for their selflessness and their ministries will flourish because of it. As I look back, the outpouring of support from area pastors has refreshed my heart and given fuel to the dreams that the Lord has placed within me.
As I look back I simply discover that God was there all along. I hope that you can see His glory as He displays just how very good He is. “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows” James 1:17.
I am grateful for the men who served on my advisory board. I wanted accountability and you selflessly gave of your time. Thank you. I am grateful.
We are so thankful for the friends, mentors, family and professionals who walked so faithfully with us during our transition. You guys rock!
I am grateful for everyone who has been part of the launch team. You guys have the patience of Job. You’re awesome! You’re brave and pioneering and your adventurous spirits are inspiring. Can you believe all that God has done? He brought about what he promised and we are just getting started. God continues to show his faithfulness at every step. I love that so many new faces are part of the launch team! I cannot wait to see what the Lord does through Real Life! I am grateful to be a part of a fresh, new work of God.
It’s true: Things don’t always turn out the way you’d like. Fine. Now get up and keep running, or walking or limping. Just don’t stay down. The future is bright because God is still in charge.