There aren’t a lot of days in my life I can say that I know God sent a message intended just for me. But there are a few. This is one of them…
It was the fall of 1998. We were living in Lake Forest, Illinois, and I had spent the year interviewing for senior/solo pastor positions. I was asked to interview for the position at Waupun Evangelical Free Church (Edgewood). It had been a busy year with trips to visit churches in California, North Dakota (two different churches), Maryland, and Arkansas. We actually had a lot of fun traveling the country, and three of those churches had offered me their position, but we didn’t sense any of them were quite right. However, all of those churches were solo pastorates. This Waupun thing was not – there was an Associate Pastor (Mike Giebink) – and it was the largest of all the churches I had interviewed with at that point (the statistic I received at the time was 225 people).
That first interview (by phone) with the people in Waupun was scheduled on Monday evening, October 12. On the morning of the 12th, I took a prayer walk to talk to the Lord.
I was nervous. Not only was it the largest church I had interviewed with, but there was an associate staff person, and they were heading into a building campaign. I knew that I was weak in administration, and I doubted my qualifications. So I told the Lord about my concerns. I don’t remember what I said, but I do remember what he said. As I was walking, some semi-obscure verses from the book of Numbers popped into my mind that I had memorized some time before:
Joshua, son of Nun, and Caleb, son of Jephunneh, who were among those who had explored the land, tore their clothes, and said to the entire Israelite assembly: “The Land we passed through and explored is exceedingly good. If the Lord is pleased with us, He will lead us into the land, a land flowing with milk and honey, and will give it to us. Only do not rebel against the Lord, and do not be afraid of the people of the Land, for we will swallow them up. Their protection is gone, but the Lord is with us. Do not be afraid of them.” – Numbers 14:6 – 9 (NASB)
Well, that was all it took. I was buoyant and encouraged as I headed back to our home, realizing that even if I doubted my abilities in pastoring the church in Waupun, the Lord could give grace and bring it about.
I went inside to look over the information that the church had sent, and I turned on the CD player to put on some Michael W. Smith. At first, however, I got the radio; it was Chuck Swindoll preaching in his Insight for Living broadcast (I liked Chuck, but wasn’t in the habit of listening to him). The message was set at Dallas Seminary, and he was speaking to pastors or future pastors…from Numbers 14. When he got to the few verses God had just brought to my mind, he actually read them, and I got down on my knees there in the kitchen at 770 W. Westleigh in Lake Forest…and began to cry. There were four guys set to interview that night, but I had an advantage over them – I already knew the outcome.
We were going to Waupun.
January 28, 2012 at 8:16 am
What a wonderful reading to wake up to this morning! We are very blessed that you and the Lord chose Waupun to be the place for you and your family to be:) Church has a whole new meaning to my family now!
January 28, 2012 at 10:45 am
What a note of great encouragement from you too, Lisa! It’s a blessing to have you guys as part of Edgewood too! God bless.
January 28, 2012 at 12:49 pm
I remember the “telephone” interview well – we who were interviewing you wanted to get it right and strongly felt the weight of it. Wonderful God’s abundant grace to (Waupun Evangelical Free Church) Edgewood in chosing you and then confirming it to us as well – I didn’t know this story of yours and am so blessed by it. Thank You God for hearing us and answering us in a multitude of varying ways through out the years!!! How very encouraging!!!
January 28, 2012 at 2:39 pm
How about that – I’ve told the story at least a couple of times in church. Although, I didn’t tell it for the first few years, so that no one would think I was kooky, you know? Last night I told Josh that I wanted to read him my blog for today and gave him the working title, and he said, “Oh, is this the story where…” Bless his heart, he let me read it to him anyway.
Yes, I agree – praise Him for answering a multitude of requests through the years!
Oh, one more thing, Wenda – Numbers 14 was my first sermon on my first Sunday in January 1999. I didn’t feel like I could tell the story at that point in time, but I knew I could point to the God of the story.
January 28, 2012 at 7:18 pm
Wow! way cool – I do remember the sermon we heard you preach when candidating in Beaver Dam – Elijah 1King 19 – at that point there was no doubt that you could share the word of God with excellence!!! It is funny the things the mind remembers and the things it forgets???? some of that I am sure is my age 🙂
January 28, 2012 at 3:02 pm
I have to say that our time in Waupun and at Edgewood was nothing less than a divine appointment as well. There’s definitely something special going on there! We miss it terribly.
January 28, 2012 at 3:31 pm
Tammy, we miss you guys too. Maybe it’s time to do like Jacob and come back, this time with a few extra folks in tow?
January 29, 2012 at 5:10 am
Thanks for the blog. I love hearing about how God works in people’s lives. He is an active God who is involved with us. Thanks for sharing.
January 29, 2012 at 7:02 am
Linda, you’re up early for a Sunday. Praying, no doubt? Thanks for the comment!
January 29, 2012 at 3:10 pm
Thank you for sharing this story, Roger! How cool. In moments of discouragement, there’s nothing like looking back and remembering what I once heard described as “burning bush” moments in life. I keep a piece of paper in my Bible that has all these moments listed since I first heard the idea while in college.
January 29, 2012 at 5:52 pm
We heard from the Lord that the timing was right for a move==He sent a postcard last year.
January 30, 2012 at 8:53 pm
…and then after you heard from the Lord, and got the position, you recruited a bunch of people to help you move on one of the coldest days of the year :-). Hey Roger (and family), thank you for sharing; it is truly an encouragement to me as I have been out of full-time employment for over 2 1/2 years. This is a reminder to me – “be still and know that I am God”. Give my best to Diane.
January 31, 2012 at 12:27 am
Thanks Brent! God bless, brother. I will pray about the job situation. Say hey to Candace!