There I am. Sitting with my firstborn. We sat there for a good hour or two. I remember that day clearly. It was an afternoon in May, 2014. My wife was pregnant, and we had just found they were with twins and it wasn’t going to be an easy pregnancy. It was going to be risky and costly—physically, financially, and emotionally. And there we were. A family of 3, hoping we would get to be a family of 5. Dreaming about a church. With a small team of amazing and crazy people who were bold enough to believe with us. Money was low, and job prospects were uncertain. But a fire to see Stamford and region changed by the hope and love found in Jesus was burning in our hearts.
Then, came a twist to the plot. A unexpected opportunity. A generous and influential local pastor, who leads a great church here in Connecticut, invited us to be part of his staff. He also is the president of a private school (k-12) and he offered free education for our kids as part of the package (an absolutely generous offer in Connecticut). Not only that, the church was a few minutes away from the hospital Alini would have to go in daily for monitoring. We wouldn’t have to drive one hour+ each way from Stamford.
And there I was… Sitting… Contemplating… Having the best time with my eldest. Trusting God and looking for His guidance.
My wife and I have been in ministry together since before we were “together”. I’ve been serving at a high capacity in church since I was 15 years old. It’s never been a “job” to us. But this move? Saying yes to this offer? This was different. For the first time in my life, the most attractive thing about working in ministry was the money and the benefits. To me, this offer was all about my family’s comfort and well-being. “But JD, what is wrong with that?” Absolutely nothing. But I was vulnerable. And when you are vulnerable, you run the risk of mixing up your priorities, and making the wrong choice on the pretense of responsibility. The fruit on the tree of good and evil always looks pleasing to the eye.
After my time of prayer and meditation, things started to become clearer.
Listen carefully: God will never put you in a corner when he calls you to a challenge. When he called Moses, he talked through the plan with Moses, and made concessions until Moses had the confidence to go. When he called Gideon, he answered every prayer and test, and allowed Gideon to experience small wins, before the big battle. God knows what you need, and he will even give you a way out. In his mercy.
We had a choice. But it wasn’t between lack and provision, or between the comfort or peril of my family as I momentarily thought. Our choice was between God as our provider–trusting his call, dream, and vision for ConnectCommunity–or a church job as my provider–trusting a paycheck, benefits, and promise of comfort. And I’m sure, if we had chosen to take that opportunity, we would have been just fine. But I would be doing that pastor and that church a disservice, because my heart was attracted to the wrong thing. And that’s what I told him.
When facing a life-changing decision, bring those you love closer, don’t push them away. Make them part of the process. Don’t isolate. Isolation is your enemy. But do practice solitude. Solitude is when someone who is well connected to family and friends takes time to sit, pause, ponder, and pray. President Eisenhower once said that solitude is when your mind is free of the influence of other minds. That’s when you can listen to God’s voice, when He can give you insight, and show you the way forward. God will give you clarity and guidance.
If you are willing to endure your temporary trials, as you embrace the dream God has placed in your heart, you can rest assured God will have your back. Since that day, I am humbled to tell you that my family has lacked NOTHING. Not because of my performance, but because of God’s mercy. He has cared for us in more ways that I could have done it myself.
This I know: There are no regrets in following Jesus.