FAQ: Why Are You Leaving Allendale? — Part 2

road flickr_photopin kevin_dooley

In the first part of my answer to the question, “Why are you leaving Allendale?”, I retraced the last 40 months of our journey. I explained that we never intended to be here for the long-term. We aimed for 2-3 years, and then we would see how it goes. And by the time we leave this summer (2014), we’d have been here for 3-and-a-half years.

Likewise, we didn’t come to Allendale to plant a church or to start new programs. We came . . .

  1. to be a part of the community,
  2. to work with kids, and
  3. to be “feet on the ground” for people and groups that wanted to be involved in Allendale.

If we are accomplishing all these things, the question remains, Why would we want to leave? Why is God calling us to move?

A Calling Without a Plan?

“If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31)

It’s important for me to point out that we did not make the decision to move because we are frustrated with things or people in Allendale. Our family has not been hurt. Our kids have loved living in Allendale, and were sad to hear that we’d be leaving.

So the question remains, “How do we know that we’re supposed to leave Allendale, especially with no job offer, and no specific direction, and no specific timeline?” Or, as at least one friend asked us, “How do you know that God is calling you to do this?”

The answer: WE DON’T.

I cannot honestly say that we 100% know for sure that we are supposed to leave Allendale. I cannot absolutely say that God is calling us to do this. We are as much full of questions and doubts as we are full of excitement and faith.

Déjà Vu, All Over Again

As we are transitioning away from Allendale, I look back to 2010. We spent nearly the entire year discussing (with leaders) changes that we felt needed to happen, in my job and our life. For most of that year, we didn’t know what we would do, and we often questioned why we needed to change.

Then, we felt (not knew) that God was leading us to move to Allendale. We had no idea what this meant, or what He would do through us. But now that we look back, it seems so OBVIOUS that He was going a good work through us. It seems so obvious NOW (not then) that God would bless us greatly if we would follow His leading to move to Allendale.

So now, as we make another move, we have a lot of the same questions. And I can’t say that we fully trust in Him, because we are weak and selfish. We are learning to trust, and we are growing in our faith.

We trust in this: that just as our Lord blessed us in our doubt-filled decision to move to Allendale three years ago, we trust that He will bless us in whatever He has next for us, if we will only follow Him.

Over the past few months, we have had some great friends and encouraging acquaintances in Allendale who are wondering if we are truly called to move away. But I have to remind them that it was the same type of call that brought us here in the first place.

Fish in a Fishbowl

When it comes to making decisions, I find it helpful to remember that a life of discipleship is a tension between God’s sovereignty and our free choice. To use an (imperfect) analogy, it’s like we are a fish swimming around a giant fishbowl that God carries. Ultimately, He can control where we go in life, but He also gives us freedom to make decisions.

Tim Challies writes about this decision-making process in A Theological Toolbox. He notes that we can follow a 3-step, sequential process as we try to discern and live out God’s will:

  1. “What does the Bible say?” This first question will eliminate a lot of harmful decisions. However, most decisions in life are not between good vs evil, but good vs good. That’s why we move to the next question.
  2. “What’s the wisest choice?” Beyond deciding between good vs evil, the next step is to decide between good vs better. For example, there would be nothing wrong about pursuing any number of careers, but the wisest thing would be for me to avoid doing work that doesn’t match up with any of my skills, passions, and experiences. Long-term, that could lead to burnout.
  3. “What do I want to do?” If the Bible doesn’t exclude it, and if there are several options that would best honor the Lord with the gifts and passions He’s given us, then we have a lot of freedom to make a decision.

Of course, I’d love to make a decision out of 100% certainty. But if I had all the answers, then I wouldn’t need to trust God, would I?

“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”  Romans 12:2

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photo credit: kevin dooley via photopin cc

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4 responses to “FAQ: Why Are You Leaving Allendale? — Part 2”

  1. Uncle Matt says :

    I think the sentence would better read, “ultimately he controls our lives, even as we make well-reasoned, biblically informed, prayerful, faith-filled decisions…”
    You could move to Springfield. I’ve. Got a big-faith youth ministry opening that needs to be filled.

    • joeyespinosa says :

      Yes! You absolutely put it much better than I did. Thanks!

      But unless you can make it warmer & sunnier in Massachusetts, my wife & I will resolutely resist your offer.

  2. evanlaar1922 says :

    Expecting God to show up everyday is still the greatest adventure no matter where we live

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