I know that we have all heard the saying, “If I had known then what I know now” and we have probably used it in one way or another. I heard someone using that scenario the other day on a talk radio show I was listening to while driving to meet someone who was donating a keyboard to All Things New and it got my attention. I think it was in regards to a particular NFL quarterback and some decisions he had recently made but I don’t actually remember the specifics. It actually reminded me of something that Jessica and I have asked ourselves in regards to All Things New. We wonder if we had known about what would go down between the two of us and Audancin and Rosie, would we have even moved to Haiti and started All Things New? The truth is, we don’t know the answer to that question. If you know us or have followed us very closely, then you know moving to Haiti was the absolute right thing for our family to do and it was the right thing for the kids that we love and we would not change that decision for anything. I just wonder if we had known that specific piece of information, at the time, would we have still moved down?
It’s so easy to look back with all of the information that we have right now and think about how our lives would be different if we had known this one little piece of information or if we had done this one tiny thing differently. It reminds me of how I even met Jess in the first place. After my first semester in Seminary at New Orleans I was contacted by Arlington Baptist Church in Jacksonville about the possibility of serving as their youth pastor for the summer (this was 2002). I was 23 years old and I was looking for a place to serve that summer in ministry. I was talking to a church in Augusta, a ministry to teach basketball in Wales, and this church in Jacksonville. After praying about it for a while, it became clear that I should take the position at Arlington Baptist, so we made plans for me to drive over from New Orleans the Friday after my semester was finished and start my new job.
I was pretty excited about this new opportunity, and I had a meeting planned with the pastor for him to show me around the church on that Saturday so I could be ready for my first Sunday as their youth pastor. I was in for a pretty big surprise. When we met in his office he told me that he felt like he needed to share something with me before sharing with the rest of the church the next day…He was resigning as Senior Pastor to take a job at a church in Tallahassee…On my first day at my first “real” job in ministry, the person who hired me was resigning. In fact, in the few months prior to that Saturday, some other pastors had resigned and it would be just me and the worship leader on staff leading the church. I wonder, had I known all of that prior to accepting the position if I would have even thought about accepting that job…Probably not.
In the weeks and months following that news and deciding to keep the job, I met Jessica at Arlington Baptist. I cannot even imagine how much different my life would be had I known what was going on. In fact, looking back at my history at the church, these things happened: I was asked to stay for the year to help the church transition, I went to Haiti for the first time with that church, Arlington Baptist is now one of our partner churches, I would get married in that church, and in general Arlington Baptist Church would play a huge role in my life in ministry. In fact, the worship leader (Allan Covington) and his family are still very good friends of mine to this day and the interim pastor (Cecil Seagle) is a man that I still admire and look up to and even had the pleasure of praying for his son as he became a pastor at a church here in Jacksonville.
For some reason, that statement that I heard on talk radio that day stayed in my head and led me to write this. There are so many times that we second guess ourselves and worry about whether or not we are making the right decisions in our lives and I think to an extent that is a good thing. We should pray over, talk through, thoroughly plan, and be fully prepared in the decisions that we make. However, we should not live in fear of making those decisions because we might make the wrong one. The truth is, we never know when the “wrong” decision is exactly right for us. Looking back, if I had all of the information about our situation in Haiti we might not have moved. If I had had all of the information about Arlington Baptist Church I probably would not have come to Jacksonville in the first place. The funny thing is that 2 of the best decisions in my life, when I look back on them, were “wrong” decisions from a logical worldly perspective. But when GOD is leading us and gives us the information He wants us to have…You never know how things will turn out!
My encouragement with this blog is that we should not fear making decisions! GOD is in control and will guide us where He wants us to go. Let’s not look back on our life thinking, “If I had known then what I know now…” but let’s look back on our life in awe of the GOD that has brought us to where we are! If you are not exactly where you thought you would be…Neither am I! But looking back at all that has gone on in my life I am thankful that GOD was with me no matter what. When the goal of our life is to know Him and follow Him, then at the end of the day we can get down on our knees and thank the GOD of the universe for loving us and bringing us to the exact place that we are while at the same time being ready to follow Him anywhere, even if we don’t yet have all of the information!