A year ago, God asked me to do something I never thought I would have to do…
In 2013, God gave Julie and me the opportunity to be a part of starting a new church on Staten Island in New York City. We stepped out on faith and began this church with a team of people with a mission and passion to see the people of NYC’s “forgotten borough” come to know Jesus. And in the years that followed, God grew our family – both Noah and Colton were born, we saw the church double in how many people attended, over 120 people made decisions to follow Jesus, 29 people were baptized, and we saw hundreds of people use their gifts and talents to serve our church and our community as a whole.
But, in the beginning of 2016, things began to change. Our church experienced some struggles and personally as a leader I began to struggle with how I was leading. We started to ask the question, “what’s next for us and for the church?”
And that takes me to the decision to do something that I never I thought I would have to do – God asked me to close the church. I was convinced that I was ready for what was next. I had prayed through this. I had a plan! I was trusting God for what was next, right?
Have you ever been here? Are you there right now?
I had it all figured out. I knew what kind of job I was going to get and where my family and I would probably end up. But three months later, I had no open opportunities, my relationship with my wife was strained, I grew distant from my boys, and we didn’t even know where we were going to call home.
And it is in that brokenness, God revealed something to me: I wasn’t trusting Him for what was next. I had convinced myself that I was, but at the core of it, I was operating in my own strength. And this decision paralyzed me and caused me to get stuck.
I think a lot of us end up in this place, sometimes intentionally, but often unintentionally. The fear of the unknown or the fear of being asked to do something or go somewhere we never thought we’d go puts us in a place where we aren’t trusting God for what is next.
The problem is that if we stay in this place, we will completely miss out on what God has for us. The challenges we face can seem hopeless and impossible but here is what we are reminded in Romans 5:3-5:
“We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.”
The Apostle Paul in Romans is actually telling us that we can rejoice when we run into problems and trials. WHAT!
God doesn’t cause evil and suffering. This is a broken world we live in, and God will cause everything to the work together for good for those who love Him. In other words, if you have a personal relationship with Jesus, His promise to you is that He will work in and through all of your challenges. And the good he causes may not be what you expect, but it is God’s best for you.
That’s why we can rejoice. Though we don’t like to have to walk through the bad times, we can trust that God has our best in mind. The Apostle Paul takes it a step further, reminding us that if we truly trust God for what is next, we will develop endurance. That endurance will lead to strength of character, and ultimately our strength of character will lead to a deeper relationship with Jesus Christ!
So, what does trusting God for what is next look like?
1. Decide to trust God’s plans.
When I was at my point of brokenness, I felt God asking me that question again. And I knew I had to say yes. If you are going to trust God, it starts with an intentional decision to do so.
2. Remember that faith is step by step.
Over the last year, I have learned that if I know what each step looks like, I am operating on my plan, not His. Faith is taking a step and trusting that God will show you what the next step is and when to take it.
3. Believe that God is a God of restoration.
In my moment of brokenness, God gave me Deuteronomy 30, my favorite part of it is where it says:
“God, your God, will restore everything you lost”
A year later, I am in a place I never thought I would be in, and God has restored EVERYTHING—my passion for Him, my desire to do ministry, my marriage, my relationships with my boys, and so much more! I truly believe God will do the same for you. You just have to answer one question:
Do you trust God for what is next?