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When God finds us a home

Whether it is a new church home, a new house, or a move to a new location, finding a new home is daunting. For the past fourteen months our mission has been to find all of the above. The task has seemed overwhelming from the outset because, when you are looking for a pastorate, your new job is your new home. Finding a new pastorate is, of course, about skill set and chemistry and financials…but it’s so much more. It’s about matching the nuances of your deepest beliefs and values. Picture a teaching or sales interview where you discuss religion and politics. And not just "Protestant of Catholic, Republican or Democrat?", but "What are your views on lordship salvation, tongues, dispensations, or sovereignty and accountability? What do you believe about individual freedom vs. social justice? For the unborn? For the poor? What do you think it means to walk with God?"

Whether it is a new church home, a new house, or a move to a new location, finding a new home is daunting. For the past fourteen months our mission has been to find all of the above. The task has seemed overwhelming from the outset because, when you are looking for a pastorate, your new job is your new home. Finding a new pastorate is, of course, about skill set and chemistry and financials…but it’s so much more. It’s about matching the nuances of your deepest beliefs and values. Picture a teaching or sales interview where you discuss religion and politics. And not just "Protestant of Catholic, Republican or Democrat?", but "What are your views on lordship salvation, tongues, dispensations, or sovereignty and accountability? What do you believe about individual freedom vs. social justice? For the unborn? For the poor? What do you think it means to walk with God?"

When you sign on to work with Dillards or Microsoft they don’t probe your comfort level with hymns or praise music. It doesn’t matter whether you’re into organ music or electric guitars. Nobody in HR cares what movies you go to see, what books you read, what you drink or don’t drink. Whether you live lavishly or simply. Whether your wife is a good fit with the company. It doesn’t matter so much whether you think the same things are funny. Or you can you laugh together. Weep together. So the miracle is…when you look at all these potential connect points and countless more in a church and…they connect! 

And then, when we finally found the heart/belief/values connect we sought, we couldn’t get the insurance to connect. Insurance! In my previous blog I described the fireworks and the bold stroke of God to finally help us find the coverage we needed.

Last week I joined Jack for our first week of our new ministry. My husband greeted me at the airport with a big kiss and a "Welcome home!" greeting. Home? South Carolina? I’ve lived in Houston, Austin and Dallas all my life. I’ve only been to South Carolina once to speak and once to candidate this church.

But the feeling of being welcomed home has grown every day. In our hosts’, the Davidsons, guest suite balloons and a sparkly sign greeted us: "Welcome Jack and Lael." When we drove up to the church for our first Sunday a banner stretched across the front entrance announced the same greeting.

That morning was filled with tender touches that only God knew and only he could provide: Jack chose as his text for the morning Jehoshaphat’s prayer in 2 Chronicles 20:12 "Oh our God…We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you." This was the prayer we had been praying for our past year of transition. Jack wrapped that text around our story of what God had done to open the door to this ministry and provide our insurance. The worship leader hadn’t received word of Jack’s text before she chose the songs. The last song we sang, right before Jack spoke, repeated the refrain, "My eyes are on you, Lord. My eyes are on you."

We were presented with a lovely scrapbook, yet to be filled with pictures of how God brought us to the church. Through tears, Liisa, who was assembling it, told how the prayer of 2 Chronicles 20 had become a special prayer in her own life and how she had already copied it into our book.

After the sermon the elders and the people laid their hands on us and prayed a special installation prayer. One of the elders prayed the beautiful benediction from Numbers 6:24 The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the LORD lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace." John could not have known that we had had that prayer sung at our wedding. That I’ve prayed it over countless others as a favorite prayer. Kleenex time.

Over the last few weeks we have continued to look to God to help us settle into our new home. We have seen that nothing is too hard for God, even in this economy. In a buyers market he and Elizabeth, our amazing realtor sold our Houston home in three weeks with a contract for the full asking price. And a back-up contract for cash. And today the sellers of a home that has room for small groups and having people to dinner, all bedrooms down to accommodate my RA, a woodsy back yard and a fence for Strider and is 13 minutes from church agreed to our offer. We have a new address: 128 King’s Creek in the Audubon Hills subdivision of northeast Columbia. "Home in South Carolina" begins to feel more real.

Our new friends in South Carolina are confident that we are going to love South Carolina so much we were going to retire there. Our friends back in Texas are just as confident that we are not leaving Texas; we are simply having a wonderful extended visit to South Carolina.

At this crucial juncture Jesus reminds me that home is mainly about relationships, not the location or design of a dwelling place.  (Isn't it true that the best stories are never about the setting, but about the characters and how they grow and change as they engage in the plot?) As I seek and obey him He and his Father want to move in and make their home with me, embrace me into the love and fellowship of the Trinity (John 14:23).  Enable me to include others in that same life-giving embrace.

I know the final farewells ahead will be very painful. I am grateful beyond words that God has prepared a place of wonderful and promising relationships for us in South Carolina and has orchestrated circumstances that mean we take so many of our beautiful Texas relationships with us in a very tangible way. Only he could have done this. Only he could keep directing all these bold strokes and gentle touches in a chorus of affirmation and love.

From Psalm 145:

I will extol you, my God and King, and bless your name forever and ever…One generation shall commend your works to another, and shall declare your mighty acts. On the glorious splendor of your majesty, and on your wondrous works, I will meditate…

The LORD is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love…All your works shall give thanks to you, O LORD, and all your saints shall bless you! They shall speak of the glory of your kingdom and tell of your power, to make known to the children of man your mighty deeds, and the glorious splendor of your kingdom…

The LORD is faithful in all his words and kind in all his works…The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food in due season…The LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth. He fulfills the desire of those who fear him; he also hears their cry and saves them. The LORD preserves all who love him, but all the wicked he will destroy. My mouth will speak the praise of the LORD.

 

 

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Lael writes and speaks about faith and culture and how God renews our vision and desire for Him and his Kingdom. She earned a master's degree (MAT) in the history of ideas from the University of Texas at Dallas, and has taught Western culture and apologetics at secular and Christian schools and colleges. Her long-term experience with rheumatoid arthritis and being a pastor’s wife has deepened her desire to minister to the whole person—mind, heart, soul and spirit. Lael has co-hosted a talk radio program, The Things That Matter Most, on secular stations in Houston and Dallas about what we believe and why we believe it with guests as diverse as Dr. Deepak Chopra, atheist Sam Harris and VeggieTales creator Phil Vischer. (Programs are archived on the website.) Lael has authored four books, including a March 2011 soft paper edition of A Faith and Culture Devotional (now titled Faith and Culture: A Guide to a Culture Shaped by Faith), Godsight, and Worldproofing Your Kids. Lael’s writing has also been featured in Focus on the Family and World magazines, and she has appeared on many national radio and television programs. Lael and her husband, Jack, now make their home in South Carolina.

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    Sue Bohlin

    God shows up again!

    Love it, Lael! God does seem intent on showing you His love in such delightful ways! I'm so glad you are a Tapestry blogger so you can unfold His story in your and Jack's lives and ministry here in this little corner of Bible.org!

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