Our theme this year is “The Life.” Today we explore that theme with…..
The Life of Uncertainty
Steve Cothran has served since 1990 as Youth Minister at 3 churches in 3 states–Florida, Kentucky, and North Carolina–and is now the Associate Pastor to Students at Central Baptist Church in Newnan, Georgia. He dreams of being an extra on The Walking Dead or the oldest cast member of SNL, and frequently inserts Seinfeld quotes into ordinary conversations. Steve and his wife Nancy have 3 adult children, one grandchild, and their 3rd dog named after his college roommates.
It was a lot like an episode of Seinfeld.
One plot line here, another one way over there, and then maybe even a subplot or two. Jerry, Elaine, Kramer, and George each with their own humorous but seemingly-unrelated stories, and yet it all converges over that 30-minute span, and somehow it all makes sense.
That’s what the past year has been like as we began to discern that it was time to move on in ministry. There was no burning bush. No Damascus Road experience. No audible voice. But there was a nudge here, a whisper there, and at least one hmmm…I wonder what that’s about?
It all started almost a year ago. One evening my wife just said, “I think we might be done here.”
Although it took me by surprise, I figured this was just because I was burning her out as my most reliable volunteer youth worker, so I turned and looked at her, and in typical “guy” fashion I raised an eyebrow and said, “What do you mean?”
“I don’t know,” she shrugged. “It just feels like we might be finished at FBC.”
Eh, she’s just having a bad day, I thought. She’ll probably feel better about it in the morning.
Either way, I wasn’t planning on bringing it up again! I loved our church, the folks I work with, the youth and their families, and all of the relationships we’ve built over the past 17 years. And my wife loved all these things too, but something was changing, and she has a keen intuition when it comes to sensing the direction of God’s Spirit.
Another month went by and we had another conversation almost identical to the first one. She brought it up. I nodded. End of discussion.
But throughout the next several months, there were almost imperceptible nudges coming from several different directions. A little controversy in the group here, a little argument among some friends there, some cries for more support (and what actually turned out to be less support), and the growing sense that perhaps my wife was right.
So we began to think about how we could take the same leap of faith that Abraham took when scripture says:
“Abraham, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going.” (Heb. 11: 8)
So that was the leap of faith that we took. We had told youth for the past 17 years, “Listen for God’s voice, and when God calls, you’ve got to go!” And suddenly it was time to practice what we’d preached.
Is this scary? Absolutely! But why shouldn’t it be? When did following the Christ who bids us to “Come and die” turn into a life of comfort and certainty?
Will it be different? Of course. Will it be hard? Probably. What will happen in this life of uncertainty? Will God leave us? Never.
And even though right now the future is uncertain, of one thing I am certain: it will be better, because God’s future is always more promising than our present.
“Will things ever be the same?” No. No they won’t be the same. But they will be better…they will be better because God always takes our best and makes it better.
When life becomes uncertain, be certain of the words God spoke to the people of Israel when they were also headed into an uncertain future:
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9)
And thanks be to God, it will be so. Amen.