28 June, 2014

10 Years... Where Did They Go?

10 years ago today my family moved to Galesburg, IL to assume the pastorate of Harvest Church of God. I can hardly believe it has been 10 years already... until I look in the mirror and take a look around the house and see my kids no longer live here. June 28, 2004 happened to be my daughter's 11th birthday, and the fact that we moved on her birthday made her anything but happy. In fact, she did not want to move at all. She was mad at me and made no bones about it. We had only lived in Lincoln, IL for 3 years as pastors, but she had made a home there and was very involved in her school and had many friends. She got over it and in time loved living here, but I don't mind telling you that for the first few months I thought I'd driven a wedge between Ashley and myself that would never be repaired. Thankfully, with God's help, she grew to love Galesburg and her friends here. When we moved here, Daniel was just getting ready to turn 14 in 9 days and was ready to begin high school. Actually, he had been going to the high school in Lincoln for math classes for a couple of years already and was kind of a "pet" to the older kids who were in awe of this little guy who was blowing through their math courses like they were nothing. He was not all that happy with me for moving him to a new school when he already had an in roads with the faculty and student body at Lincoln High School. Band helped him adjust to Galesburg much easier than Ashley as he made friends very quickly. Libby was agreeable to the move because she knew it was God's will for our lives, but even she was not the happiest of campers, because she loved her job at Lincoln High School and was giving up her tenure to move here.  So... it was an uphill climb for our family all the way around. 

That first year was rough. The weather was a shock to our system. It was so cool here the first summer that we lived here that we took down and got rid of the above ground swimming pool that was in our back yard. It was rainy and cool all summer. I remember Libby becoming somewhat depressed and asking me just where I had moved her to. It was so cool that summer that we did not run the air conditioning in the house the entire summer until September when for two weeks it suddenly jumped to the high 90's and was over 100 for several days. Then, as quick as the flip of a switch, we had our first snow fall with an accumulation of a couple of inches the third week of October. (Yes, seriously) On Thanksgiving day we had a snow and ice storm that caused many of my family members to have to turn around and go home because they could not get here. That winter was fierce, and it never got above freezing from Thanksgiving Day until mid January. Trust me... my family was not liking dear old dad too much at that time! But we made it. We've acclimated (somewhat) to the wild and unpredictable weather conditions around here, and although a few times over the years I was ready to pack it all up and move south, we've made it 10 years. It's been a wild and crazy ride. 

The first year in Galesburg, in our 11th month, we lost more than half the church within a 3 week span. We've built it up and watched it decline several times. We've seen dearly loved ones leave this life, watched children grow up before our eyes and seen people turn and walk away... but we are still here. God has a plan. In all seriousness... there have been many times I've gotten mad and been ready to throw in the towel and walk away. Yet every time I prayed, I knew in my spirit that God was saying, "hold the course, it will come in my time."  I had a vision several years ago of a river that I've found myself questioning at times, but just a few weeks ago as I was praying, the Lord spoke so clearly to me and told me to pull it out and look at it again. In that vision, almost everyone who had been with us turned around and left us, and after that happened, the flow of the water changed directions, sped up and people began to come and jump into the river with us. I've finally come to realize that I had failed to see where we were in that vision until just a few weeks ago. All these things had to happen and all those who left in fact needed to go before God would do what he had promised to me. He's showing me that it is not me, or any group of people... it is all about him, his will, his power and his timing. So as we begin a new year with tomorrow's worship service, I'm excited. This is going to be a year of great change. I sense it. This is going to sound strange, but as I've prayed, the Lord has shown me great chaos and even destruction as a wind blows in and shakes the foundation, but then as the calm comes, great things will begin to happen with rapid and profound changes happening in my life and in the church. I'm excited to see what God has in store for us! 

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