“Happy Anniversary”

Yesterday was my anniversary.

Not my wedding anniversary (that’s in August).

No, this was the 12th anniversary of my very first Sunday as the pastor of Cornerstone Evangelical Free Church. Back in 1997, I’d been waiting for a call to pastor a church for over 16 months. Cornerstone had been working at calling a pastor for just about the same length of time. God saw fit to bring us both together. Fascinating is His sovereignty.

When Cornerstone was first without a pastor (back early in 1996), they put together a search committee to find their new pastor. It didn’t take them very long until they had a man they thought would work out. He came, he met, he interviewed & was interviewed, and he preached. He wasn’t called here. So, back to that proverbial drawing board. Another man was selected. As the weekend drew near for him to come & candidate, he called, saying he was withdrawing his name. Another setback. The search committee then committed themselves to seeking God’s face through prayer and asking Him to truly lead them along in this process. (I’m sure they’d prayed previously, but not as earnestly as now.)

The church plant I’d pastored in central Iowa had closed in July of ’96. (It’s a long story; maybe it’ll show up here sometime; maybe not.) The one other time I’d been in between churches, I thought the process would probably go quickly. It didn’t. Yet here I was, without a church and thinking that it might only take 3-6 months for a church to call me. It didn’t.

When CEFC first sent me a packet of information about their church, I read it and said, “Nope. No way would they want me and my doctrinal beliefs. And I’m pretty sure I’m not going to want to pastor them.” Yet they persisted. The committee chair called me and talked to me at length. I asked a lot of questions of them and they of me. They really wanted a face-to-face interview and Ann said that we might as well go. So away we went. Following the interview with the search committee, Ann and I drove home to Iowa, talking all the way and both of us thinking, “Well, that wasn’t too bad; but God can’t really want us there (because we didn’t really want to be there).”

God wouldn’t let us alone about Cornerstone, however. We continued on, praying and seeking His guidance in this. When Dennis called to talk about coming for a candidating weekend, we simply “had” to say we would. And we did. And here we are.

God knew this is where I needed to be with my family. God knew I was the pastor this congregation needed (I say this with all humility; there really isn’t anything special about me that could have helped bring this congregation around, other than a whole-hearted trust in a completely sovereign God who uses some pretty weak vessels to accomplish His will). And I’m still here and so are they. Twelve years. It seems to have gone by quickly (well, there was that one stretch in ’01-’02 that dragged on for a bit). How much longer does God want me here? I’m not about to try to guess that one. If He grants my heart’s desire, I’ll never leave. These are great people. This is a wonderful opportunity to serve and see what God can do. May He see all the glory go to Him however He sees fit.

Thanks, Lord. Thanks, Cornerstone.

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