Beliefnet
Mark D. Roberts

Part 11 of series: Why Move? Stewardship, Wineskins, and the Enigmatic Will of God
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To read this series, Why Move? Stewardship, Wineskins, and the Enigmatic Will of God, from the beginning, click here.

In February 2007, I believed I had discerned part of God’s will for me. I knew I was to use well the gifts He had given me for the sake of His kingdom. I believed this would involve some changes in my professional life, so that I could devote more of my time to writing and leadership and less of my time to some of the administrative tasks that are required of many pastors. I also felt sure that God wanted me to be open to Him in a new way, and this way included letting go of the “wineskins” of my ministry at Irvine Presbyterian Church. I still had high hopes that the “wineskins” of my job description at church could be renewed so that I might stay there as pastor. But by late February I was willing as never before to admit that God might have other plans for my life. Willing, yes. Eager, hardly. I loved my church family. And I loved how much my own family felt at home in Irvine Presbyterian Church.
The process of discerning the enigmatic will of God for my vocational life was, as I’ve mentioned previously in this series, a difficult one. It took five months for my wife and me to move from a place of miniscule openness to Laity Lodge to the conviction that this was where we should invest our lives. I wish I could tell you that I spent these five months in faithful, peaceful, trusting prayer. There were some moments like that. But I must confess that a good chunk of those five months was filled with too much worry and too many sleepless nights. When I thought about leaving Irvine and moving to Texas, I did feel considerable excitement about Laity Lodge and its manifold ministries. But counterbalancing that excitement was lots of fear: fear about what life would be like so far from the home my family and I had known for sixteen years, fear about leaving a parish ministry, fear about taking my children away from great friends and a fantastic youth group, etc. etc. Time and again I offered those fears to the Lord, and slowly, very slowly, I began to sense His peace.
One can speculate about why it too so long for my wife and me, with thoughtful input from our children, to decide to move to Texas and join the Laity Lodge team. It’s possible that God had made His will clear all along, and that we were unwilling to see it. It’s also possible that God wasn’t rushing us along because He was interested in more than simply getting us to do what He wanted. I wouldn’t be surprised if both options were true, to an extent. I am sure my own resistance to God’s will made it hard for me to discover it. Yet I am also convinced that God was taking time to with us because He was concerned, not just to get us to Laity Lodge, but also to help us grow as His disciples in the process.
butt-who-can-you-trustFor me, the greatest growth came in my willingness to trust God. You might think that because I have trusted Christ as my Lord and Savior for over forty years, and because I have been a pastor for almost twenty years, I might have worked out my trust issues before. In some ways and some contexts I had done this. But my relationship with God has always involved ongoing growth in trust as I give over to the Lord more and more of myself and my life. From February 2007 until late July, when Linda and I decided to move to Texas, I had to surrender even more of myself than I ever had before.
Ironically, or perhaps providentially, one of the most significant factors in my learning to trust God more was a book called Who Can You Trust? Though it dealt as much with trust in human relationships as with trust in our relationship with God, this book challenged and encouraged me to rely upon God in a new way. Now the ironic or providential part of this story is the fact that this book was written by Howard E. Butt, Jr., the founder of Laity Lodge. His wisdom and openness helped me to trust the Lord in new ways, which in turn helped me to give up the security of my life in Irvine and move to Texas to join the team at Laity Lodge. I’m quite positive that Howard Butt didn’t write Who Can You Trust? as a staff recruiting tool for Laity Lodge. But, in a strange way, that’s exactly what it became in my life. More importantly, it helped me to deeper with the Lord. Sometimes God’s ways are both enigmatic and delightful.

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