By Jonathan David Faulkner
I sat at my desk for what would be one of my final sermons at First Baptist Church of Stafford. Only three weeks left and as many chapters in the book of 2nd Timothy to work through before I closed the door to my office at the Church on Buckeye street for the final time. In a month I would be leaving the area, not because I was fired or because they church had asked me to step down, but because God was calling me to something new
I felt the throbbing in my head, a reminder that still had a ways to go to recover from the fall in February. Around me books stood on shelves that would only hold them a few more weeks. Outside the office at my little house in Sterling it was quiet, I was not playing music of any kind, just taking in the silence before the college student I had taken in for the summer returned to the house from his job on the farm. I had just finished studying for the afternoon, I cannot recall what about, and was ready to just take in the rest of the day. It still had not completely sunk in that this chapter of my life would be coming to an end soon.
“God, am I ready to do this?” I prayed “Am I ready to leave this place, these people behind. You can’t be calling me away so soon, can you?”
I knew the answer, it was time to close this chapter of my life and head back to school. To a different state, a different town a different part of America, I was leaving the Midwest, maybe one day I would return, I thought I had a pretty important reason to. But God was calling me out, out of a time in my life that I can only describe as a time in the wilderness, into a new season that I could not have expected.
Please don’t misunderstand me, there were many good times had in Sterling KS and Stafford and Lyons. I have excellent memories from those two years. It was a time of growth and transformation and learning lessons (some of them over and over again). I would not trade those two years for anything. I had returned to finish a Math Class (A task I was leaving unfinished) but stayed to work and pastor. God had used it to stretch me and shape me. With everything that happened, the good and the bad, God was working for His good.
Fast forward a year, I have left Kansas behind and am living in Massachusetts where I have recently become a resident. I live at the Seminary, work in the kitchen, attend an incredible church where I will be teaching 3rd Grade VBS all week. I have stuck to my 8-5 schedule all year and enjoy Sabbath rests once a week. I am dating the most wonderful woman of God one could hope to find and am enjoying being close to family members.
But the biggest change in my life is nothing external, it is internal. If those who know me now, had known me then, it is doubtful they would recognize me. I am considerably calmer, more confident in myself and my abilities, kinder and better mannered individual. I seek to resolve problems with peace instead of strife.
Perhaps this is part of getting older, perhaps the events of 2015 made me realize it was time for me to get a grip and actually grow up. All of those could be true.
I do believe though that it is the work of God through the Holy Spirit that has brought about this change. I can honestly tell you I did not cultivate any of these things within myself. My perspective on life and on just about everything had to change. I had to let a lot of things go, I had to let God make the changes He needed to make. Totally and completely, not trying to hold onto some things while letting go of others, giving up those things that were once so tightly held that they were choking me, I had to let them go.
I’m not trying to say I’m perfect or achieved some “higher level” of Christian Faith. On the contrary, living this life is a struggle, daily giving up my own expectations to trust and follow after God. That is a huge deal for me, and it is difficult. Somedays I just do not want to do it, but I do because the reward and blessings are beyond measure. It takes hard work and struggle to live with this new perspective, but God grants me grace daily and gives me the strength to overcome.
I pray you will find encouragement in this, to lay down whatever is keeping you from really living in the Spirit of God.
I pray God grants you grace to daily follow after Him and I pay that God uses you to really transform and speak life into the lives of others. May God bear in you good fruit, fruit that we bear by the spirit of God.
Jonathan David Faulkner is a student at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, a Pastor, Musician and Writer. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Christian Education & Administration with a concentration in Urban Ministry