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« One Reason Why God’s Will is Enigmatic | Home | Laity Lodge: Faith, Psychology, Art, and My Wife »

Why Laity Lodge? Tying Up Some Loose Ends

By Mark D. Roberts | Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Part 12 of series: Why Move? Stewardship, Wineskins, and the Enigmatic Will of God
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To read this series, Why Move? Stewardship, Wineskins, and the Enigmatic Will of God, from the beginning, click here.

Earlier in this series, before pausing to reflect on the enigmatic will of God, I was chronicling the process that led me to leave Irvine Presbyterian Church and join the staff of Laity Lodge. I won’t continue to give you the play by play of that whole process, which began in February 2007 and culminated on July 23, 2007, when my wife and I, with the support of our children, said “Yes” to Laity Lodge. Suffice it to say that Linda and I spent much of those five and a half months in conversations: with leaders from Laity Lodge, with close friends and family, with other wise counselors, with each other, with our children, and with God. As I’ve confessed before, there were plenty of sleepless nights for me as I wrestled with my fears and with the Lord. I didn’t begin to feel a sense of peace about the decision to move to Laity Lodge until shortly before we made it.

Since that watershed moment, I haven’t questioned the rightness of our decision, though I’ve sometimes felt overwhelmed by its implications. Moving one’s entire life, ministry, and family from California to Texas has been a staggering task, and it won’t be close to over until we sell our house in California and settle into a new home in Texas. (Anybody need a great house in Irvine?) Even then, of course, we’ll still be dealing with the emotional and spiritual dislocation inherent in such a move. For example, for the first time in our lives, we’re church shopping. Yikes!

At this point in my Why Move? series I want to shift gears from a more or less a chronological sequence to a more or less logical one (logical to me, at least). I want to explain as clearly as I can why I believe that it was right to join the staff of Laity Lodge and, therefore, to move my family to Texas.

But before I get to the logical stuff, I want to tie up a couple of loose ends I have left dangling. First, if you’ve been reading along, you know that my openness to Laity Lodge began with a phone call from Paul, a gracious man on a pastor search committee for a Presbyterian church on the east coast. I mentioned that Paul and I agreed to talk again, but then left the story right there. So what happened with that church?

Paul and I did indeed have that conversation, then a phone interview that included several other members of his committee, then a face-to-face interview with these same folk. At the end of that interview, I told Linda that these were fantastic people from an outstanding church. They had an exciting vision and were the kind of people I’d like to share life and ministry with . . . just like the folks at my own church! Though the east coast church was much larger than Irvine Presbyterian Church, and thus offered new challenges and opportunities, I didn’t sense that this was where God was leading me. So I conveyed this to Paul, who was gracious, as always. Not too long thereafter his church called a marvelous new pastor.

The other loose end concerns my conversation with the elders at Irvine Presbyterian Church. As I noted above, we were engaged in a discussion about whether my sense of calling, which involved more writing and more expansive leadership, could be fulfilled by reworking my job description as the church’s senior pastor. The elders, though personally supportive of me, were also concerned about what was best for the church, as they should have been. This was, after all, their primary responsibility. The elders and I didn’t rush to any conclusions. In fact, when I told them early August that I was going to Laity Lodge, our conversation was still moving forward. By that time it was clear to me that God wanted me at Laity Lodge, no matter what might be worked out at Irvine Pres. The elders received my news kindly and supportively. Nobody chewed me out and said, “So why’d you make us go through this darned process with you?” In fact, as I had said to them along the way, our conversation turned out to be more about the next pastor than about me. At any rate, Laity Lodge was not some escape hatch out of Irvine Presbyterian Church, but an exciting opportunity to which God was calling me and my family.

So, now that I’ve tied up those loose ends, I’m prepared to explain why I chose to join the Laity Lodge team. I could make it simple and say that I did what I believed God wanted me to do. That’s true. But I want to explain further why I believed this. And so I will in my next post.

Topics: Why Move? |


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