Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Trusting God's Sushi Bar - A Thanksgiving Post

I had to leave Asia to learn about God's sushi bar.
Let me explain.
After almost nine years in South Korea, my wife and I felt called to move back to the USA - in part so that I could pursue a PhD.  In addition to leaving behind a great church and great friends, we were also leaving a lot of stability in terms of finances and day to day life.  We traded two steady well paying full-time jobs for one steady part-time job and whatever else we could scratch together.
We expected that our small business hosting international students would flourish and provide us with significant margin again.  However, having three extra kids in our house for a few months was much more work than we expected, and we haven't been able to transition to longer term students.
The net result of that is two fold.  1) I can't even start thinking seriously about a doctoral program until we are more stable.  2) Sarah and I have scraped together a wide variety of part-time jobs to pay our bills, and, surprisingly, to regain margin one millimeter at a time.
In the past 10 months, I have earned income from at least 13 different sources, and Sarah's count is at least 5.  I have done some of the normal pastor things: my regular job at Duneland Community Church, a wedding, and a guest sermon.  I've also done some free lance writing for Northwest Indiana Times, Holiness Today, Standard, and Grace and Peace Magazine.  I have been blessed with the opportunity to teach writing as an adjunct professor at Olivet Nazarene University, and I'm 80% of the way through the approval process to teach as an adjunct at Indiana Wesleyan University.  Those are all within my normal skill set and experience base.  However, I have also done some environmental testing for a small business owner in our church, and I'm also the website administrator for the Northwest Indiana District of the Church of the Nazarene.  Both of those are out of left field.
I had to laugh when people at a pastors conference asked if I am bivocational.  I'm bi/tri/quad-vocational.  Categories don't fit what I'm doing right now.

In the midst of all of this change, I have often longed for stability again - specifically for stability on the job front.  Of course, uncertain income is stressful, but what is even more stressful - at least for me - is feeling that I always have to keep hustling to make money.  I have longed to just know what my job is and what it's going to be next week and next month and next year.   Full-time jobs were starting to look better and better.
But somehow I knew that was not the right path.  At the end of a chapel service at Olivet, God reminded me very clearly that he called me to Duneland Community Church and that I need to stay here no matter what else happens on the rest of my job front.  God is in the midst of doing some amazing things here, and I need to be part of this and to learn from what God is doing here.
As I sat in a meeting with some area pastors and struggled to describe what God is teaching me through this experience, I stumbled onto a profound metaphor for this season of my life.  It's like I'm rooted in this place, and I have a seat at God's sushi bar - the kind with the revolving track with lots of little plates of sushi.  Each little piece of sushi that comes by is not very much in itself.  It's just a bite or two.  One piece of sushi will not fill me up - not even close.  But this piece of sushi is God's provision for me for this moment.  There is more sushi coming and that will provide for me and my family in the next moment.
I honestly don't know what job(s) I will be working at come January, and I have even less idea what it will be NEXT January.  But God is teaching me to calm down and to settle into my stool at the bar, trusting that God will keep the sushi coming.
My compliments to the Chef!

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