I vividly remember traveling with our family on vacation when our daughter was 10. From the back of the car, she said “De vu ja!” Since then, her accidentally-improved version of the French phrase always brings a smile to my face when I have that familiar feeling of: “Haven’t I been here before?”
In late August, I found myself in Cleveland, OH. We were there to consider a ministry possibility. There have been very few of those types of trips these last 18 months, so we were very grateful. The trip came together so quickly, I’d hardly processed the possibility. We had 48 hours between the time we received the phone call inquiring of our interest and boarding a plane to head to a city I had never set foot in. The only things I knew about Cleveland was that LeBron had made that city come alive and that it was much colder than where I’ve spent 100% of my life.
That Saturday night, I found myself sitting in a beautiful home in northern Ohio with 30 members of the church’s worship team. I had such a flood of emotions as we worshiped. It was both so new and yet eerily familiar.
In October of 1999, Chris and I were praying about planting a church when we got a call from a church in Dayton, Ohio. We were surprised by the call, but we committed to keeping our “yes” on the table for the Lord to direct our path. Here we were again. Would God actually take us back to OH?
The answer is yes. Twenty years to the month later, God is calling us back to serve in Ohio – this time much closer to the Canadian border. In a million years, I’d have never guessed that I’d be starting over in a new city in OH. Last time, we arrived in January 2000 with a 15-month-old son, a 7lb dog named Tiger, and 5 months pregnant with our daughter. I arrived nervous, wondering what our new life would look like.
Now, we return as empty nesters with only our sweet pup Mo in tow. I’d be lying if I said I’m not nervous, but I also know that God has proven His faithfulness over and over again throughout the last twenty years. What a waste it would be for me to not have more confidence in my God after all the ways He has proven Himself.
What about you? Is there something God’s calling you to right now that’s new? … scary? … unfamiliar? Is there a decision looming in the balance, or a place you’re having to start over in? Perhaps you’re taking a step of obedience (or need to?) and God wants you to face it not with fear, but with faith. Faith is a noun. It’s what He gives us, but it sometimes requires us to look back to activate it.
Here’s to a new year, a new decade, and a new chapter in our journey. To all my friends down South, please stay in touch. Come visit any time. You cannot be replaced and are sorely missed. To all my new friends, I can’t wait to meet you. I look forward to seeing God’s faithfulness ring stronger in 2020 than ever before.