“The flaming desire to be rid of every unholy thing and to put on the likeness of Christ at any cost is not often found among us. We expect to enter the everlasting kingdom of our Father and to sit down around the table with sages, saints and martyrs; and through the grace of God, maybe we shall; yes maybe we shall. But for the most of us it could prove at first an embarrassing experience. Ours might be the silence of the untried soldier in the presence of the battle-hardened heroes who have fought the fight and won the victory and who have scars to prove that they were present when the battle was joined. Thus, it is necessary for God to use suffering in his holy work of preparing his saints, it is doubtful whether God can bless a man greatly until he has hurt him deeply.”–A.W. Tozer
One year ago today, I was on a one way flight from Dallas to Phoenix filled with excitement and fear. I remember my heart pounding inside of my chest as I was recounting the last year’s events to the nice woman in the seat next to me. She was coming out to Phoenix to visit her grandchildren whom she prays over daily. I asked for her prayers and grandmotherly wisdom since one of mine passed away and the other lives out of state. She said that she’d love to as I continued my tale.
I had left the year before for seminary and was very confident that I wouldn’t be moving back. The things I knew that were certain was that I’d be living in downtown phoenix to help start up a coffee shop, another pastoral ministry internship at a church I didn’t know anyone at, and continue to pursue a romantic relationship with a young woman that I was growing increasingly smitten with. I had these great plans, but God had a different set of plans that humbled and broke me.
In the one year since my airplane touched down, so much has happened:
-I ended up in the hospital 5 days after I arrived and ended up getting fired because of my medical condition.
-The church left me on the curb and wanted nothing to do with me.
-Relationships that once were strong in previous communities evaporated and others began to blossom and grow.
-That young woman and I got engaged two months later, married 3 months after that. In our six months of marriage, we’ve dealt with job loss and gain, laughter until tears and tears of hurt and pain, we’ve lost our first born child before seeing his/her face and are moving into our first house in three weeks.
I can’t say that everything has gone according to my plan, but I don’t consider it a mistake that I moved back here. Not a day goes by where I miss my friends I made in Texas (or their delicious barbecue) or being in seminary. But what I can say with confidence and gratitude is it’s been a crazy year of growth through fire and sweat. I’m glad I came back, because I’m slowly beginning to see how God does bring healing to our wounds. Healing comes through pain. The resurrection happens after the cross. Our healing may not happen when we expect or want it, but it comes exactly in our Great Physician’s perfect and complete time, will, and way.