Beliefnet
Mark D. Roberts

Part 1 of series: Why Move? Stewardship, Wineskins, and the Enigmatic Will of God Permalink for this post / Permalink for this series

If you’ve been reading my blog recently, you know that I’ve just left my position as Pastor of Irvine Presbyterian Church and have begun my new role as Senior Director and Scholar-in-Residence for Laity Lodge. This change has, of course, necessitated a major move for my family and me, from Orange County, California, to the Hill Country of Texas, just outside of San Antonio.
I expect many of you have wondered why I have made this move? Several of you have asked me about this. Why leave a wonderful church where I was pastor for sixteen fruitful years? Why move my family from their home to a place that won’t feel like home for a long time? Why put so much space between us and our beloved friends and family in California? Why endure the physical and especially the emotional dislocation of moving? In a nutshell, why move? Why now? And why to Texas? (Thanks to Van Partible for the cartoon of my face.)
These are important questions, questions I have been wrestling with for many, many months. Though I now have answers to these questions, those answers didn’t come quickly or easily. In fact, the decision to move to Texas was, by far, the hardest decision of my life. Not that it was mine alone, mind you. It would be more correct to say that this has been the hardest decision that my wife and I, with input from our children, have ever made.
Now that I’m on this side of the divide (literally, the Continental one), having left California and moved to Texas, and having finished my work at Irvine Pres and begun at Laity Lodge, I have not second-guessed our decision. I still believe strongly that we have done the right thing. But I am impressed with how hard it is to move, especially at this stage of life. When I went away to college, I had one trunk, two suitcases, and a typewriter. Now my family and I filled a large moving van, not to mention two cars and a trailer. The physical challenges of moving are indeed many. In fact, I’ve been unpacking for weeks, and I still can’t find much of my stuff because it’s hidden somewhere in boxes stacked in the garage of our rental house or in a storage unit a few miles away.
Yet the physical challenges of moving pale in comparison to the psychical challenges. Moving messes with one’s psyche. It plays tricks on the mind. It involves changing virtually everything that is familiar, comfortable, and assumed. For example, I am now in the process of learning two new addresses, three new phone numbers, a brand new layout of streets, a new configuration of the local market, a new computer system and phone system at work, a new set of weight machines at a new gym, forty new names of my new colleagues at work, etc. etc. This past weekend, for the first time in over two decades, my family and I had to decide where to go to church. Soon we faced a new parking lot, a new campus, a new order of worship, several new songs, a new preacher, and lots of new people in the theatre seats next to us. All of this newness, which can be exciting at times, takes a huge amount of psychical energy. And that’s just for me. If you add into the equation the physical and psychical changes for my wife and two children, you’ve got a lot of change happening all at once.
In this blog series I’m going to explain why I, along with my family, have moved. At least I’ll give you my perspective. You’d hear different things from my family members. And, in the end, who can say exactly what God has in mind here? My approach is to begin by telling the story of the last couple of years of my life. It’s a story about stewardship, wineskins, and the enigmatic will of God. If this sounds strange, I hope it won’t after a few days of blogging. I’m telling this story not only to explain why I’ve moved, however. I’m hoping that my example might offer a bit of encouragement to others.
This series will eventually get around to explaining why I find Laity Lodge so compelling that I’ve moved my family to Texas so I, along with my wife, can join the Laity Lodge team. Since most of my readers are not familiar with Laity Lodge, this will also give me a chance to introduce its diverse, exciting ministries. In the meanwhile, I’ll start telling my story tomorrow.

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