In 2013 God spoke a little secret into my heart, “You will start a ministry in Nashville, TN.” My mind had never wandered to the city-limits of Nashville, and I had never visited the town either. My initial response was simple denial. Surely the buckle of the Bible Belt did not need another “ministry.” What could I, an animated, art-loving, opinionated man, offer the country music-loving, outdoor world shopping, deep south? Not to mention my beautiful Puerto Rican lady (isn’t the deep south full of racists?) Pushing my doubts aside, I wrote down the promise and figured it was God’s job to see it through.
Almost eight years later, my family and I arrived on the steps of the Promised Land. Looking back, eight years is a long time to wait on something in a social-media, instant gratification world. I won’t say the time flew by because it didn’t. A lot happened in the last eight years. I graduated from College, welcomed two daughters, was emotionally abused, was a member at three different churches (three denominations), became a licensed Pastor, went from part-time hourly work to full-time salary work, hurt by the church, lived in three homes, and fully believed with all my heart that one day we would move to Nashville. As surely as the sun rises, so would we get to the place that God promised.
Within a matter of weeks, I went from five interviews to landing the job in Hendersonville, TN. Hendersonville is about 20 minutes from downtown Nashville, and I knew this was the moment God would transition us out of Florida and into middle Tennessee. “God has finished the work,” I would proclaim. “He has made good on His promise; what else is there to wait for!” How embarrassing.
Why are these statements embarrassing, you ask? Because they could not be further from the truth. Upon our arrival, I was immediately thrown into the story of Israel being delivered from Egypt. The metaphor of my life as the story of Israel breaks down in more than one place, but never could I relate more with a people losing faith in God and complaining to Him than now.
Called out of Florida, we had arrived at the Promised Land, and it wasn’t what we expected. Sadly, I expected everything to be perfect with nothing to complain about, nothing to be hurt over. Yet I was complaining. I was “let down.” There were things I was going to have to wait for God on. How naive could I be? Did I think that this place would not require trust in God? If everything is perfect, where is there room for faith? Oswald Chambers said,
“I am sorry for the Christian who has not something in his circumstances he wishes was not there.”
As we wait for God to act, brokenness develops within us. Without His mercy, we will not make it. In the last few months, I have profoundly learned that there is no “arriving” in this world. There is only more growth. From revelation to revelation, test to test, faith to more faith. While we did complete a chapter of our spiritual journey in Florida, there is still new work to be done in our lives. We have arrived in the Promised Land, and God is just getting started.