Sunday, July 20, 2014

Why be a Pastor when I can be an Insurance Agent? (The Preface)

Weird question? Maybe.

When I was 18, I went on a road trip with two of my best friends. Growing up, we caused a lot of trouble. One time, we soaked a tennis ball in gasoline, lit it on fire, and played hockey. Another day, we decided it would be a good idea to race down a very steep hill on scooters. I ended up in a street drain. When we got bored one summer, we figured out how to make gun powder with simple ingredients from the convenience store. And then we blew things up. We were great friends.

Believe it or not, what bound us together was our love for God.

On that road trip, we talked about what we wanted to do with our lives and how we could make an impact in this little world. One of our stops was Boston. When we first arrived, we decided to rest and soak in the Boston atmosphere in Boston Commons. It was beautiful and historical and just relaxing. A man walked up, just as he had done to the people sitting beside us, and handed us a flyer for a night club. On the flyer, there were women with just about nothing on their bodies. My eyes opened wide and I threw the flyer away faster than the guy had given it to me.

As we walked around Boston for the next few days, I realized the depravity of humanity in a way I had never realized before. I saw people wasting their lives as they went from one strip club to the next only to stop for a couple shoots in between. My heart was broken and I didn't know what to do with it. Over the next several weeks as we closed up our trip and settled back into our routines, I wrestled with this feeling inside of me.

After a lot of praying and talking to friends, I decided the most logical thing to do was move up to Boston and plant a church. Why plant a church? Because that's what you do if you are really sold out for God, or so I had always imagined. This was the beginning of what I felt was my calling.

I attended Cedarville and worked at a great church for the four years I was there. I studied, read books, and started networking with other excited Christians for the purpose of planting this church in Boston. I had a focus.

Before I started dating Lauren, I told her that if she wanted to seriously date, she had to be ok with moving to Boston. She said that she was on board, which I took to mean, "Yes, I will marry you!" And the rest is history.

Boston was my focus and I had determined that Boston was my "calling," until I realized that it wasn't.

Lauren and I went up to the Boston area to figure out where we were going to live and what we were going to do. We attended a fantastic church and met some great people we thought would be life long friends. We found a place to live that was a bit (maybe very) over our price range, but we had faith that it would be ok and that God would make it all work out. And He did.

The week after we got back, the business that I owned crumbled. This was going to be our income when we moved to Boston. Both of my employees informed me that they weren't going to be sticking around for long because their hearts were in the non-profit world. That was fine, but it just meant that I didn't have anyone else on my team to help me with the business. Later that week when I thought it couldn't get any worse, our largest client backed out of a substantial deal that set us back months.

And then that Friday we found out we were pregnant and that natural family planning doesn't work.

That was a rough week. Not only had my past years work crumbled like a landslide, but my means of stable income disappeared. It was incredibly exciting to find out that Lauren had a little baby forming inside of her that looks a bit like her a bit like me, but at the same time, it was terrifying! I didn't have a stable income to have a baby! I had never been a dad before. How do you even do that? How do you provide for three people when you feel like your scraping by with two? I cried out to God, "What in the world!? What am I supposed to do? I thought you wanted us to go start a church in Boston or at least serve there!? Why are you doing this to us? What should we do?"

God brought one verse to mind, "Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially their own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever."

This verse stung, because I realized that moving to Boston was not a financially smart choice when I had school loans to pay, a pregnant wife, and no full-time job or solid prospect for a job. I realized that it didn't matter what I had felt God was calling me to, I needed to do what He has explicitly commanded me to do. So I began praying and asking God for wisdom on how I could best provide for my family.

God led me to my father-in-law who offered me a job as an insurance agent and I accepted. It wasn't what I thought I was going to do, but now I'm beginning to see why God wrenched my heart in Boston, allowed me to have a top-notch biblical education at Cedarville, gave me the opportunity to serve His people in the local church, crumbled my business, and brought me to Michigan. It was all to be an insurance agent?

(This is the first snapshot of my journey and how God has taught me what it means to have a ministry of reconciliation in a dark and sin craving world. Don't worry, I'll try to explain this title a bit better in weeks to come.)

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