As the interim pastor who doesn’t have “a pony in this race,” I have found it most interesting to be here and, in a minimal way, a part of the process. As any member of the Search Team or Council would testify, I’ve sought diligently to restrain myself and restrict my input to procedural concerns. I think that I’ve succeeded. Yet, observing Pastor R. two weeks ago, and today’s “guest of honor,” Brian T., has been intriguing although not quite mesmerizing. But, it has been evoking memories…
It’s almost thirty-six years ago that Clerk Kimm called to ask me, “Pastor, is there anything that would prevent you from considering a call at this time?” Thinking quickly, or possibly not at all—I was hundreds of miles away from home doing church visiting in Northern British Columbia—I answered, “Not that I can think of right now.” The conversation then quickly turned to weather and other mundane matters. The next thing I knew was that I was placed on a duo with a Rev. William Green from Ripon and asked to come and visit with then “First Church.”
Plans were made quickly to do so. Shirley and some friends would ride with me to Spokane, and I’d fly to Bozeman from there. On Monday morning we headed out. Not having listened to any news, we wondered why the sky was so grey. But, when we got closer to Spokane and police lights stopped the traffic, we learned that Mount St. Helens had erupted and spewed its ash. There was no going any further. When back in Vernon, Clerk Spoor casually commented, “What does the Lord have to do to keep you here?” But, we were not to be deterred that readily.
A while later we put a four-year old Dean into our grey “toilet” as Chuck Danhof would call it, and drove the whole way, observing a lot of ash along the way. A pleasant time of interaction was truly enjoyed. But, when packed to return home, I suggested to Shirley, “Take a picture! We’re not coming back.” As obedient as ever, she did. It’s in our photo album—a front view of First Church on a rainy day. A testimony to conclusions drawn too quickly!
The Saturday arrived soon enough that a decision was due. I wasn’t all too pleasant while trying to conclude what God wanted, not what George had decided. Shirley concluded, “I’m taking the kids away for a good while. I trust you’ll have a decision by the time we come back.” So, I decided to do what others often do; I went to the church next door. After a while of sitting on a hard, hard pew, I sensed God’s leading. So, when Shirley and three sons returned home, she saw it on my face. We were headed for Montana—a decision we’ve never regretted.
I don’t know what’s all going on in the minds of the men and their wives whom you’ve been considering. But, I do know that initial conclusions may need changing—yours or theirs! I know mine did. Unless God’s into skywriting or on a wall somehow, our sensing His will for our lives and His church requires waiting on Him, prayerfully. In addition, I wasn’t quite honest about not having “a pony in the race.” I care deeply, more than I thought I would, that the right couple come and join you in your ministry here. Anyhow, that’s how I see it.
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