I experienced two significant events 36 years apart that were strangely similar. In 1981, I turned in my badge as a police officer to step into the new role of pastor, a calling to which I had no understanding. Jan and I were rookie church planters traveling to a new place carrying only a promise from God. .
Recently, I attended my last service as a pastor connected to a local church staff. On the drive home the feeling I experienced 36 years earlier came to visit. This time, I was not going to a defined place. I was walking into an undefined future with three assignments from the Lord – write, teach and mentor. In both cases, separated by so many years, I experienced the same strange, yet beautiful, peace.
In my new assignment, I have a function, but not a place. My “place” now comes from invitations or from those daily divine appointments that happen unexpectedly in my new detached-from-place kind of life. It is a strange feeling to step into a season of life where place no longer defines me. I am no longer, “Garris Elkins, Senior Leader of Living Waters Church in Medford, Oregon.” I am now mobile. My place is wherever promise takes me. I like my new assignment.
The promise we carry is actually more significant than a well-defined place. Promise is what motivates us to uproot our lives and go somewhere new. It helps us stay spiritually and emotionally alive in the journey and it gives us peace when we finally arrive and set up a new life in a new place. Promise is everything.
Jan and I have always tried to make our decisions based on a sense of peace. Peace has guided our steps for the last 36 years of ministry together. Peace is something we carry in our hearts. It was never subject to what was taking place around us. Peace came as the faithful product of the promises we carried. Without promise, peace would have been elusive. When we discover a promise from God and let it guard our hearts and direct our steps, we will always find peace no matter where the journey of life takes us.
“You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.” Isaiah 26:3