It was a year ago this week that I packed up my entire life and moved back to the town I grew up in. I traded the conveniences and familiarity of middle class suburban life for the slower paced rural living I’d left a decade and a half before.

Deep down, I knew I’d always come back, but the timing and speed at which it happened caught me completely off guard.

But that’s how following Jesus works.

Right when you settle in and get comfortable, he invites you into a bigger story that you aren’t expecting and often aren’t ready for.

And that’s exactly what happened to me and my family.

The story we told everybody about why we moved here is that we wanted to be back around family and have our kids grow up around their grandparents. While that was true, it wasn’t the entire story.

In July of 2008, I had just graduated from college and was trying to figure out what the heck to do with my life. I prayed over and over and over for God to reveal to me what he wanted me to do. Then, one night, I had a dream. It’s one of the few times in my life where I legitimately believe God spoke to me in a dream. In it, I was standing with the woman I married and we were in front of a church in my hometown. We were helping to lead it in some fashion.

That dream scared the crap out of me.

In 2008, I wanted nothing to do with ministry. I was still running as fast and as far as I could away from that idea. I wasn’t even going to church anywhere. I’d spent the last few years at the world’s largest Christian university and never stepped foot inside a church.

And now, as clear as a movie playing in my mind, I’m seeing this picture of my future where I’m in my tiny little town helping to lead a church.

You could say it freaked me out just a bit.

Fast forward ten years and by that point I’d decided to go into ministry, flamed out of ministry, started a business, and was back to where church leadership was the last thing on my mind. We’d finally found a church in Knoxville where we felt we fit in and were putting down roots. Nicole was recovering from surgery one Sunday in November of 2018 and I went to church by myself. Leaving that day, I could feel the dream that had gone dormant waking up again. It was years and years away, but it was waking up and it was still there.

Less than a year later, we knew God was inviting us back home for the next step in that 11 year old dream.

But here’s the thing:

We took a step, but we’re still waiting on it to happen.

We know it’s still years away even if we’re here now.

And quite frankly, waiting sucks. It’s not any fun at all. We have this idea of something that is coming – something we know we’re going to be a part of we believe is going to be great – but it’s not time yet.

A few months ago the frustration of waiting got to be too much. We were stuck in the middle of quarantine which meant I literally had only seen my wife, kids, mother in law, and the McDonald’s drive thru workers in a month. Around this same time was when George Floyd was murdered. Living in a small, conservative, rural town it got to the point where anytime I would get on social media all I’d see was a combination of COVID truthers and blatant racism.

I was ready to give up on the entire thing.

Ready to leave again like I did when I was 18.

I joke that this place is my Nineveh and I was ready to book a ship to Tarshish.

But then something strange happened. I got a message from someone I knew of but didn’t actually know. She was looking for a local church here and, like us, was having a hard time finding a place to fit in. I asked what she was looking for and she described the church that’s lived in my head the last 12 years. I told her we didn’t have anything right now that we could tell her would fit but we were hoping to help start that church in a few years. Her response almost brought me to tears:

“That is so hopeful to me. We need it. Keep pressing forward. That’s a glimmer of hope for me to even stay here.”

She had no clue the wrestling match going on in my brain. She didn’t know I was ready to give up before things even started.

But God did.

And he provided me with just enough to keep going.

He’s good like that. When we’re faithful in following where he leads us, he doesn’t get mad when we get frustrated. He doesn’t judge us when we want to quit. Instead, he looks at us with love and grace and gives us the exact thing we need in order to keep going.

So yeah – we’re going to be starting a church here in a few years. That’s something I’ve never actually said publicly before. A lot has to happen between now and then, but we know God is going to be with us in the waiting.

He always is.

Today – if you’re in the midst of waiting today – I get that it sucks. I get that you’re ready for things to happen. You’re ready for the thing to be here and the waiting to be over. I’m right there with you.

Until that day comes, I hope you know God’s still with you. He might be silent, or he might feel far away, but he’s there. He’s going before you to pave the way – and sometimes he gets so far ahead we can’t see him anymore – but he always comes back when we need him most.

He isn’t a tame lion.

But he’s good.

And he’s worth waiting on.

Say your prayers and take your vitamins.

Have a nice day.