It’s been a pretty hectic past couple of weeks. For those of you who may not know yet, this weekend Hillary and I will be taking a 20 foot Uhaul, two cars and a dog halfway across the nation to the motherland of corn, crazed college football fans, and flat open spaces: Nebraska.
“What is Nebraska like?” You might ask? Well, if you google their state motto, here are some of the results that come up:
- Nebraska: The Beef State
- Nebraska: Nebraska Nice!
- Nebraska: The Cornhusker State
- Nebraska: Equity Before the Law.
- Nebraska: The Good Life
There you go. That should give you a pretty good idea of what Nebraska is like. Beef, justice, corn and manners: that, my friend, is the good life. Heck, I don’t know why it took me this long to get over there in the first place.
All kidding aside, Nebraska is admittedly not somewhere that my wife and I would have planned moving to, and not just because of some of the silly state mottos. Hillary and I have never permanently lived outside of the Tri-Cities. All of our family lives here, in the Tri-Cities. Most of our closest friends all live in the Tri-Cities. And if we had to choose somewhere to move, we probably would have chosen a large city, like Portland or Seattle. So, why are we moving again? Here’s the story…
At the beginning of the summer, I began to realize that I didn’t really have too much of a plan for when I finished school, and it dawned on me that I hadn’t devoted too much time to praying for it. I began to pray, but kept this to myself for awhile, till eventually I came to my wife and asked if we could spend some time praying together about it. Then, the next morning I met with my guy’s accountability group and prayed with them about it as well. Later that day, much to my bewilderment, I received a message from one of my oldest friends and mentors, John Stone.
“Marc, been thinking about you recently. Strange question, but what are you doing vocationally? We’re starting to look for a Student Ministry Director and I thought of you. If you’re interested to know more let me know. We’re pulling candidates together. NE is a lovely place. . If this isn’t where you’re headed, no worries. Just figured I’d ask.”
John and I have stayed relatively in touch since he left his position at Bethel, but since John had moved to pastor a church in Nebraska two or so years ago, we hadn’t seen or talked to each other much. But, any time we would talk, I’d try my hardest to convince John to come back to WA and John would jokingly tossed around “You know, Marc, Nebraska is beautiful this time of year, I think you’d love it.” And we would both laugh and continue talking, because we both knew that’s what it was: a joke. Nothing that would actually happen. But, sitting in my apartment, staring at my computer on May 28th, it didn’t seem so outlandish anymore. It was just too coincidental to be written off as nothing.
So that began a slow, cautious movement forward and resulted in a lot of prayer, conversations, and tears. Hillary and I began talking with John more out of a “Well, we should be obedient and just see what happens” kind of mentality, but never really thinking anything would come of it. But as time went on, it seemed to sound more and more like a possibility. God seemed to be pushing us towards the one thing that we had never thought would happen: moving away from our family and friends, to a small town, in the middle of nowhere. Never in a billion years did I anticipate that being somewhere I would do ministry. I would have thought it more likely to move to a third-world country before moving to the midwest.
John and I would have these long conversations on the phone during my lunch breaks behind my coffee shop. We would talk about the church, the job, the town and whether or not it seemed like something Hillary and I would fit well into. I sat on the curb, looking at the tumbleweeds in the vacant lot that sat next to our building while we talked, wondering what Nebraska looked like and whether or not they had tumbleweeds, or if every piece of empty ground there had corn stalks shooting out of it.
In time, Hillary and I began to sense more and more that this was where the Lord was leading us to. There were so many little things that felt like the Lord confirming that we needed to just trust Him and go. We showed up at a friends birthday party and sat next to a random stranger and struck up a conversation; turns out he was from North Platte. We found out that Hillary’s Grandpa was born in a small town next to North Platte. One day I was at work, talking with one of my coworkers about it, and she was letting me know that she didn’t think it was a great idea for me to go. After some more talking, I took the garbage out and, for whatever reason, noticed one of those metal car decals you can buy and stick on the back of your car (kind of like the Jesus fish thing), on the back of my coworker’s car. I walked over and laughed to myself as I read “CROSSROADS: North Platte, NE”. The decal was attached to her car when she bought it and she just didn’t bother taking it off. I asked her to go look at the back of her car and tell me if it changed her mind at all. (It did)
There were lots of other little things like that, but the biggest deciding factor on whether or not we should go came from two things: (1) Hearing John preach and (2) meeting the church. As soon as we began the whole process, I began listening to all of the sermons from John that I could get my hands on. From my experience, the pulpit tends to be the rudder of the church, so I wanted to see where the Lord was leading the church under John’s preaching and pastoring. And it was amazing. Jesus is the hero of all of John’s sermons and they trumpet grace. When Hillary and I came down to visit we prayed that God would either make us feel uncomfortable and awkward, or make us feel like we could belong there. God definitely answered that prayer; Hillary and I have never felt more welcomed and loved by a group of people who barely knew us. It was astonishing. North Platte Berean Church is full of people that I can’t wait to get back to. Hillary and I feel truly blessed to join this faith family and do whatever we can to bless them.
So, after getting back home, Hillary and I spent a night wrestling in prayer together. And amidst a massive cloud of fear and uncertainty, we felt our feet touch the solid ground of God’s promises. We realized that everything that terrified us most, were things that were promised to us in Christ. So, feebly and imperfectly, we laid our anxieties down and decided that we were moving to The Good Life.
There is so much more that could be written, but maybe another time. We deeply appreciate everyone’s prayers, and ask that you would continue to labor in them on our behalf, and on the church we will soon be joining. We will do our best to keep everyone updated through the blog. Thank you for everyone who has done so much to help us get ready to go, we couldn’t be doing this without you.