Earlier this fall, I sat on the patio of a local restaurant and shared a long talk with a friend going through the toughest time of his life. As I listened to his story and empathized with him, I caught what he meant to be a throw-a-way statement, but one I knew opened the door to a very teachable moment.
Friend: So, here I am…in the middle of this crazy mess!
Me: I’m so sorry you’re walking through this pain.
Friend: Thanks…you know…this is not how I planned for it to go!
How many times have we all said those exact same words? “This is not how I planned it!” As I heard those words come out my friend’s heart and across his lips, I quickly pulled from memory Proverbs 16:9.
A man makes his plans, but God orders his steps. Proverbs 16:9
Whether you are walking through sun-beams or a storm, the truth of this passage offers us all a reminder of two realities. One, God wants us to make plans. Set goals and chase after them. Determine what you feel God calling you and your family to and run after it! But the second reality is we need to expect God will regularly deviate us from the shortest route there. We like to map out the straight and quick path between two points in our life. But God will often direct us to take what I call the “Sanctification Scenic Route”.
As I shared this with my friend, we both began to reflect on the times in our past when God had directed our steps in a direction we didn’t expect, but it got us to where we wanted to go nonetheless. In both of our cases, God’s preferred path was filled with personal growth and a deepening of our faith. I encouraged him to always expect and give God permission to cause deviations. We wrapped up our time and I headed back to my office feeling like God had really spoken to my friend and I was thankful that I got to be a part of it. Little did I know that this conversation was just a primer for what God was about to do in my own life. God truly had His own deviation plan for the Coleman family this fall…and one that has some exciting news.
Moving Back To Texas
That’s right…the Colemans are headed back to Texas! Last weekend I officially accepted a position as the Young Adults & Men’s Minister at Sugar Creek Baptist Church in Sugar Land, Texas. I begin my new role in January and we will be taking the month of December to let Davis finish school in Lafayette and move our family to our new home outside Houston. God has had this step in our journey planned all along and it has been quite an adventure seeing Him lead us here… Our home in Lafayette went under contract in two weeks. Just a few days ago we made an offer on a house in Sugar Land that was accepted. We’ve already been getting to know some great families at Sugar Creek that live in the same area as the new house and have kids in the same school that Davis will attend. It’s been exhausting but exciting to see God’s plan unfold!
In the whirlwind of the last two months, Thanksgiving came by so fast I barely had time to notice the turkey and dressing that was served. So now that I finally have a moment to reflect on all that God has done, I’m experiencing what I call “Thanksgrieving”.
I am so thankful for God’s abundant provision and His calling to this new ministry. And I’m truly astounded by the way He has provided clear confirmation every step of this journey…seeing Him close doors and fling open others on a daily basis. I am feeling a deep level of thanks for my Heavenly father.
But as we have written about it before…gratitude and grief can co-exist. And the bittersweet side of all this transition is the reality that we are leaving Bennett’s home and church. Houston will never know Bennett because Heaven already does. And we are praying for God’s peace as we close on the house in Lafayette that’s full of sweet memories with him and our other kids, and then move to Sugar Land and close on the house there on the anniversary of Bennett’s diagnosis day. Tear-filled days are ahead, but so are days of gratitude for God’s new journey for our family.
It didn’t take my friend and me too long to get together for a follow-up conversation. And we were right back at the same table discussing the “Sanctification Scenic Route” again. As he shared with me his attempts to be thankful for what God was teaching him during this storm, he asked, “How long will it be like this? How long will I have to walk completely by faith!?”
As I think about that question, I truly hope the answer for both of us is, “forever.”
This is what the Christmas season is about (yes, Christmas is here!). We were given the gift of Jesus…who in turn invites us to walk by faith each day. And it’s not always easy to walk by faith. Often the lights and fanfare of the holidays blind us to this challenge. But the “Sanctification Scenic Route” begins at the Manger, passes by the cross, traverses through the valleys and ends at the feet of Jesus. This is the route we hope to stay on and I’m praying that this Christmas season we are all reminded of how beautiful a path it really is.
And since we will be a little busy in the weeks ahead, I will go ahead and tell you now…
Merry Christmas, y’all! Love, The Colemans