Some time in 2012, I knew that my time at my former church was coming to a close. I was sure of it, because my DS (District Superintendent) had told me so. I wasn’t in any trouble (that I know of) but, outside of what she had informed me, I also knew in my heart that a time of transition was coming. To where? I had no idea. The DS told me that she couldn’t say anything but to be in prayer and know that there is a plan.
So, I remained in prayer and tried to form my own plan, naturally.
I had it in me that I wanted to return to the Korean church. I had been (am still) so critical of the Korean church. It was time to shut up and put my money where my mouth is. I couldn’t help but think of the parable of the Prodigal Son, where I was playing the part of the son returning home — the Korean church. But instead of the father running towards with open arms ready to embrace and kiss me, I envisioned running towards, as Jesus put it, weeping and gnashing of teeth. I kid. Well, sort of. And yes, I realize how egotistical it was of me to think that way.
And then — a position at a Korean church opened. I thought that this was more than a coincidence. Intern Dae once asked, “Do you think you could ever go back to a Korean church?” At that time, I answered, “If I ever were to go back to the Korean church, I’d like it to be at [the Korean church mentioned at the beginning of this paragraph]. It’s never going to happen, though. I don’t think that pastor’s leaving any time soon.”
So, I figured this was God’s way of telling me that I may have to, for lack of a better
cliche´, put my money where my mouth is.
So I contacted the pastor. He wanted to meet. I drove out to meet him. We talked. I got excited. He got excited — except that the position I wanted was being filled, but they were looking for a college pastor and would I be interested. I always wanted to try college ministry, so I said yes. Then he told me to come to the church and meet with the SPRC.
So my wife and I drove to the church to see what the church was like. Secretly, I went there ready to say ‘yes.’ I figured, this was what God wanted me to do. All the door seemingly just opened.
Only, after the meeting and the tour of the church, something in my heart nagged at me saying, “What are you doing?”
That inner dialogue was echoed by my wife, “I don’t think this would be a good place for us.”
But something within me really wanted this to happen. I really thought this place would be the next chapter in my life. However, there was enough hesitation and resistance (something I didn’t expect) within me to realize that I needed to figure out what was going on and pray on it.
After much prayer, and many conversations with trusted friends and family, it was what my wife said. She wondered if I was trying to force my way into this church, for whatever reasons because it was me that initiated everything from day 1. I was letting the DS know what was going on, instead of waiting for the Cabinet. And I realized, perhaps, this was a good time to not be so proactive, but a good time to wait. To pray. And to trust.
So, I told the pastor of the Korean church that I couldn’t go.
I told the DS that I would pray for the Cabinet and be patient as I possibly could, sort of apologizing for hijacking the whole process.
After what felt like years, I was told that an introductory meeting was set up for me in Santa Barbara.
My initial reaction?
“Oh. Santa Barbara? Okay… Well. Yea. Thanks.”
I wasn’t too thrilled. I was paying attention to the possible appointments, and I secretly hoped that Santa Barbara wasn’t one of the places. Why? Because we lived there when I was in jr. high to early high school. I just wasn’t excited.
But, I wasn’t going to refuse this introduction meeting.
So my wife and I drove north to Santa Barbara. I was a bit apprehensive and went to the meeting expecting the worst. I just didn’t think I’d be a good fit for the church and for Santa Barbara.
But. As soon as I sat down. There was a strange warming in my heart. I wish I was making that up. I’m not saying that to be a good Methodist. There really was a strange warming within my heart. And everything felt …. right.
After the meeting, the wife and I drove to State street to have dinner. We talked about the meeting and she asked, “What did you think?”
I told her that I think that this was it.
I also shared with her, had I felt any inkling of what I feel now for the Korean church, I would’ve jumped at the chance. But, I knew that I had dodged a bullet going to that Korean church. I’m not saying that the Korean church was a bad church or whatever. But, I knew that I would’ve made a huge mistake if I had gone to that church. Consider that my Tarsus, if you will.
I honestly think, the outcome would have been that both the church and I go our separate ways, both damaged, hurt and scarred.
Of course, that Korean church brought in great people for their ministry, which I think is a great fit for them.
And God brought me to Santa Barbara.
I am 100% certain of that. And, honestly, I’m glad that I’m 100% certain of that, because it’s that knowledge and faith that will pull me through when we encounter uncertainty in the process of ministry. And, I know that this is a great fit for both church and myself.
I have no idea what God intends to do with me and St. Mark UMC. But, I know that it’s going to be something great and amazing. And, there’s no other option, because God is involved — especially if we continue to have God lead us, instead of us dictating God.
There are so many times in my life where I just want things to happen on my time, in my way. More often than not, I want to say, “God, this is what I’m going to do. Please bless it.” And move on forward.
But I need to continually remind myself that God knows what he’s doing.
And, more importantly, that I’m not God.
While there are times where I need to be active in my faith and not just sit around and wait for things to happen, there are times where I need to be patient, wait, discern and pray that God’s will be mine, not the other way around.
I think it’s more than fair to say, life is a bit more manageable and makes a little bit more sense when we live out God’s will for us.