Two years ago I met a man who changed my life in 25 minutes. I met Mark Batterson, the pastor of National Community Church in Washington D.C., at a pastors conference in L.A. As we spoke he challenged me in many ways and suggested that I read a book, “In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day.”
This book is about one of King David’s “Mighty Men”, Benaiah. He was a man whose credentials were literally: killing a lion, in a pit, on a snowy day. Batterson relates this man’s experience to us by posing this question: “What are you doing that is destined to fail unless God intercedes?” Meaning, how are you choosing to follow God’s lead, by finding the lions of your own life, and then choosing to jump in after them? As we all know, it is far easier and substantially less messy to simply avoid the pit all together. But if we do this, we are failing to step out in faith and follow God’s call.
By the time I finished the book I was at a place in my life where I was truly beginning to question how I was living out this principle. I questions if I was even looking for the lions in my life. And if I was, was I willing to risk it all to “jump” into that “pit” and kill them? This thought sent me reeling and asking God for two years, “where is my lion?”
For two years God remained silent. He continued to take me through many learning experiences which grew me into a more Godly man… a man who once again began to search for his “lion.” I am now convinced that I was looking for a lion, which I was actually choosing to ignore. You see, there have been three “lions” in my life that I have selfishly never wanted to fight, but God has asked me to tackle them none the less.
First, truth be told, I never had the desire to be a pastor. I wanted to pursue being a history professor. It was my dream to one day teach history at Stanford. Second, I never, in a million years wanted to start a church. I was a part of a church plant once, many years ago, and I know how truly difficult, challenging and messy they are. And third, I never wanted to be a lead pastor of a church.
In His timing, God never fails to honor our prayers. Even though He was silent for quite some time, He now has spoken. He has made it abundantly clear what my “lions” are. I know that without a doubt, He has called me to start a church and become the lead pastor. And if I choose not to obey this calling, I am not simply choosing to take the “easy” route, I am actually choosing to disobey God and live in sin. So I have chosen to obey.
This calling was confirmed when 4 people, Dave Muniz, Dayvid Sanchez, Eric Yochim, Chris Lambuth and most importantly my wife, Sara, approached me and said “we need to start a church,” all within 48 hours! Talk about something that only God could orchestrate! This was what I need to hear, God’s calling was clear!
Starting a church would mean leaving the one I currently serve in. The problem with this was simple: I love my church! I have been a part of Grace Church of Arvada for almost 9 years! I love the people I serve and the people I get to work with! They are our family.
My stomach was in knots for days. But God has continued to provide countless nuggets of confirmation. One of them was showing me Acts 20. This chapter tells about how Paul had to leave a church in order to follow Gods calling. In The New Living Translation, it says that Paul had to “tear himself away from them.” I knew that this is what I would need to do, and it gave me the confidence to step away from the church and people I love.
So now I am fighting the lion! I am battling insecurities, fears, and of course the lies and attacks of the Evil One!I hold fast to God as Sara and I are embarking upon this journey, knowing that He will fulfill His desires for my life, as long as I remain obedient to Him! I often remember the quote from “In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day.”
“What are you doing that is destined to fail unless God intercedes?”
Well, starting “Two Rivers Church” is just that! Like the title of this blog entry suggests, following God is never easy. I know that our journey to come will be full of challenges and lots of uncertainty. But I know that regardless, God is faithful and He will provide. And living my life the way God has designed it to be will be something I never regret.