Summary: Where is God when you "can’t believe your ears"? When He is leading you, are you prepared to follow, no matter the cost?

Texts: Genesis 24:34-38, 42-51, 58-67; Matthew 11:25-30

Date: Sunday, July 7, 2002

Author: Rev. Jonathan K. Twitchell

I couldn’t believe my ears. It was the fall of 2000, almost 2 years ago. Melody and I were sitting in the dining room at 471 Old Ocean House Road , with boxes piled all around us. We had just finished revival services that night, and I had gone up to the Pizza Hut in Millcreek to get pizza for all of us. Steve Estep and his friend were there, Jeff and Stacey were there, and Emily had just gone to bed. Like I said, I couldn’t believe my ears when I heard Jeff say, “It’s too bad the two of you don’t have clones.” I looked at him quizzically, and he said, “You know, someone with skills in music and youth, would really help us out here in Cape Elizabeth .” I thanked him for his kind compliment, and dismissed the statement -- or at least I tried to. In the back of my mind, I was perplexed. He couldn’t possibly have known that finances were tight at our current church, and there was discussion as to whether or not they would be able to keep Melody and I on staff there. He couldn’t possibly have known that I wasn’t sure how secure my current job was, because I hadn’t told anybody that, except for a few people in my family.

Two evenings later, I was sitting down there in the front row. Melody and I had led worship for the evening, and Steve preached a wonderful revival service about the men sitting outside the gates after the city had been plundered. Going back into the city meant certain death, sitting still at the gates meant starvation, and so their only option was to press forward to scavenge for food. Steve made the application that in our lives, we might wish to go back to the past, but we can’t. We might be tempted to sit still and stagnate where we are, but the only way we can continue to grow is to move forward, sometimes into the unknown. Do you remember what Steve said during that service? I know I couldn’t believe my ears... He stepped out of the pulpit, to make it clear that he wasn’t speaking from God’s Word, or speaking as a prophet, but he said that he had a strong sense that as the church had made some money on the sale of the parsonage, it was like the men in the story. You would never be able to go back again, and while you could sit at the gate and simply maintain what was happening and use up the resources until you starve, it was important to move forward into the unknown. And then...I couldn’t believe my ears. Steve stood down there and said, “I’m not attempting to be a prophet or anything, but I wonder if you might be able to take some of that money and use it to subsidize the salary of a staff person. Someone like Jon and Melody here...someone who could help your pastor with music and with his passion to reach this community and the youth in Cape Elizabeth .” Steve couldn’t possibly have known what was going on in my life. I certainly hadn’t told him. But, I went home that night with a nagging feeling that God was about to close one chapter in my life and begin a new one.

It was only two days later, that I sat in the office of my Senior Pastor, who sat across his desk from me and told me that finances were tight, and we might need to reevaluate whether or not the church could afford to keep staff or not. We agreed that we would reevaluate this issue in February, in order to make a decision for the new church year. I went back into my office, and closed the door, and immediately called Jeff on the phone. I remember my exact words, “You may not have to look for clones, because Melody and I may be available in the near future.” After I explained to him what was going on, I was in for yet another shocking surprise. As you know, Jeff keeps a spiritual journal. He told me something that probably changed my life forever. He told me that he had been praying and journaling the night before and had written that he was going to call me to see how things were going in my current assignment, and whether or not I was looking to move. It was one of those “holy moments” when you know that God is orchestrating and coordinating something far bigger than you could possibly imagine. Through these series of strange, providential occurrences, all of us were clear that God was working behind the scenes to direct the course of the future. There was no doubt in my mind but that God would take care of us and provide for us in the months ahead.

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