There is this moment in The Apostle where we find ourselves with Sonny (Robert Duvall) in his bedroom having an extremely dramatic exchange with the Lord.
Amidst his tirade with God, Sonny awakens a neighbor, who calls Sonny’s mom to ‘check-in’ on this crazy man in her home. Sonny’s mom responds that it is just her son, and that ever since he was ‘itty-bitty’ sometimes he talks to the Lord, and sometimes he yells at Him. Tonight, well tonight he was yelling at Him.
On Sunday morning October 27th, as I drove from Martinsville Speedway to Piedmont Triad International Airport, I was in a bit of a yelling mood.
Two days prior, the doubts and insecurities within me about my future with Motor Racing Outreach were confirmed. My tenure with a ministry that I’d invested the majority of my adult life in was drawing to a close.
As I stared out the window driving down 220 my emotions began to overcome me as I lamented what was transpiring. Amidst my sadness, anger and frustration I was ready to go toe-to-toe in the pursuit of some answers.
“Why, God? Why did you lead me all this way to pull the carpet out from under me? Why did you let me invest so much in this, to just have it end here…and have it end now?“
I didn’t ask this question of God as a student, rather as an accuser. I was frustrated, confused, and I wanted answers. Though I didn’t fully expect I’d get one in this moment.
But I did. God spoke.
“Because I needed you to walk this road to prepare you for what is next.“
I sat stunned as my eyes continued to gaze out the windshield. I didn’t expect an answer, much less an answer like that.
Like a young child who has been put in his place, I just sat quietly as I drove, absorbing what had been spoken.
I wasn’t satisfied.
“But why this God? Why’d you toy with me like this? With something I’d loved since I was a child and now found myself giving our family away to?“
It didn’t make sense. It felt unfair. Unjust. I felt a bit like I’d been used, simply a pawn.
God answered again.
“Would you have done the past journey I needed you to take if it wasn’t about something you liked?“
Point taken. Loud and clear.
God needed me to take this 14 year Chaplaincy journey with Motor Racing Outreach to not only serve others, but to prepare me for what was next, and He knew me well enough to know I may not have taken that specific road if it weren’t for something that I really liked and that was ultimately about my own journey.
How sovereign and gracious is God? How ungrateful and selfish was I?
I was reminded in that moment that while I thought I had arrived at my ‘career destination’ with MRO, it was just another step in my journey moving me towards where God would have me next.
Really, that is what all of our lives are about. It is not “have we arrived”, rather “do we keep moving where God is leading”?
Ever since that conversation with God I have been filled with peace.
Despite the home addition we started just before losing half of our income, despite the three major appliances that needed replaced since we were laid off, despite the insecurity of not having a place to minister; I have been at complete peace.
But listen to this, here is where things start to get really cool.
At the same time that my story is unfolding for our family, the story of our friend Jason is beginning to shake up as well.
Jason is a local Chaplain that we met through our home church, Conduit Church. As was the case with me, God was still moving Jason through his story as well, and Jason was turning in his resignation with the company he was Chaplain for to pursue God’s leading to pastor a church in the greater Nashville area.
Because of the transitions I was navigating, Jason introduced me to the executive team of the company he was exiting to begin the conversations and process of interviewing to be Jason’s replacement.
To make this two month long story a little shorter, it was finally confirmed I will be Jason’s successor as Chaplain for Lee Company and their 1,200+ employees in the new year.
I could go on and on about how God worked out the finest of details to put this together, and I am sure those will be other stories for other times. But in the end, this is what I know. Over the past 14 years God has been not only using me as a Chaplain within the various NASCAR communities I served locally, regionally and nationally to help others, but to teach and prepare me as a Chaplain as well. I’ve never felt more equipped, enabled and excited to fulfill a position than now.
Lee Company is a truly remarkable organization with an executive team that really does put people in front of everything else. I am really excited to work upon the Chaplaincy foundations that they allowed Jason to lay within the organization.
Looking back, I truly understand what God meant when He reminded me that part of what I was doing was preparing me for what I was to do next.
As for the vision of Chaplains Collective? It is still full steam ahead and this Chaplaincy with Lee Company is a seamless extension of Jeff Myers and my vision to grow a thriving collective of engaged chaplains who are equipped and empowered through meaningful connections, training and resources.
Through it all I’m so thankful for my best friend Chet, who has continued to provide the opportunity for our family to pursue opportunities like MRO and Lee Company by allowing ministry to fit into our family puzzle alongside my work for him with Off to Neverland Travel®. If it were not for Chet and his amazing allowance of flexibility, our family life would look dramatically different and it is likely Michelle would not be able to pursue her passion and calling of homeschooling.
In the end, this is what we have come to see, where you are is not always where you will be. May we all be fluid and flexible enough to move where God leads, remembering that our individual stories are collectively working for God’s glory.