These lyrics to an obscure U2 song titled “Zooropa” from 1993 have been a mantra to me as of late. Since late last summer I knew that God was calling me into a season of deep discernment. I had started seeing a spiritual director and therapist nine months earlier. That journey led me to a place I had been unwilling to visit. It is the place of discernment filled with uncertainty.
It was here that I found myself in a desert of sorts. I am no expert on deserts, but I do know they are dry and hot. Biblically speaking, they are the places where women and men encounter God. Forty years in the wilderness. Seventy years in exile. Forty days of fasting. I know the drill. At the mid-life point, I had to question every system of control, reputation, and influence that had “made” me as a leader and human being. Those that know me well, knew that a time in the desert was coming soon.
My first step in that discernment was to return to school. I made that choice quickly by pursuing my Doctor of Ministry degree at Boston University. By opening myself to that discernment I was quickly aware of the benefit that returning to school would bring. Without that discernment, I would have missed what would become God’s pathway for my own transformation in Boston.
Then I heard God say clearly that “discernment is active. Do something!” I decided to reach out to one of my past spiritual leaders for guidance along this journey. That discernment opened a door to consider a new ministry that would be the culmination of eighteen months of “uncertainty.”
Through these last six weeks Bettina and I did not know where we would be living, what I would be doing and how it might happen. We simply moved forward as God called us. We sold our house before even knowing the answers to these questions. We moved into uncertainty with faith that the Spirit would provide for us. It has been one of the most terrifying times in my life. God has continued to sanctify me and beckon me into deeper trust of the Lord Jesus.
As terrifying as this season has been, I would not trade it for anything. I have seen the hand of God move in such powerful ways. The more I allowed the “uncertainty to be the guiding light”, the more God did mighty things!
God has blessed me in abundance as I now go to serve as the Executive Director of Congregational Development in the California-Nevada Conference of the United Methodist Church. God has given me the ministry of serving pastors and churches by helping them plant new ministries, create new churches, and birth powerful new witnesses of Christ. Bettina and I will be living in Sacramento, California where we each will now have our respective offices. Bettina’s CPA firm has an office 5 minutes from my own.
I am so deeply thankful to the First UMC of San Diego for these last five years. This has been the place where God has sanctified me for this next season of service. My thanks extend to Bishop Grant Hagiya and my District Superintendent John Farley for the support of making this move. I am deeply thankful for my former and now new Bishop Minerva Carcaño for receiving me into the ministry of her Episcopal Area. Most of all, I am thankful for the “uncertainty” of the Holy Spirit who has been my guiding light along the way. As this page turns, I now know to seek out the uncertainties of life for it is here, beyond our systems of control and influence, that we find the beauty of faith in Jesus. Thanks be to God.