Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Book #4 - The Land Between

A few years ago, when I was pastoring at High Street, a church on the district got a new youth pastor. He literally started just a few months after me, but I had "seniority" on him, since I was on the district first.

Joel and I quickly became friends. We directed a district retreat together, attended events together and basically just started really enjoying each other's company. We actually were pitted against each other a couple years ago for District Secretary (I won). He went through a difficult time at his church which ended with him leaving for a church in Michigan. He's not an OSU fan, so this didn't bother him nearly as much as it bothered me that he ended up in Michigan.

We've stayed in contact since he left the district (and now that I've left the district in any sort of official capacity). He and his wonderful wife had a baby a few months ago and they instagram tons of pictures so that we can keep up.

Anyrate, a few weeks ago, Joel asked me for my address because he wanted to send me a book. I gave it to him and a couple days later a book called The Land Between arrived in my mailbox. Written by Neil Mancini, this book parallels the difficult times in our lives (like being between jobs) and the struggle that the Israelites felt when they were between Egypt and The Promised Land.

The book was fantastic! If you saw any of my instagram/facebook/twitter (social media junkie!) activity while I was reading it, you know that I was touched by the honesty of the book and the way that it connected with my life.

This past year has been incredibly difficult. Without a doubt, it's been the most difficult thing I've ever gone through (and that includes an almost-cancer scare). But, Mancini summed it up so well as he wrote about his son (who is, coincidentally, named Alex too):

"Though it was a difficult [year] for Alex, I am grateful he had to endure it. I believe God is molding him into a leader, and this molding will require pressure as part of his formation. I am thankful for the trials [he] experiences and for the hardships he faces. It is my belief that he is not only maturing as a man but also as a man of God. I trust that God will use the difficulties and challenges in Alex's life to transform him. Far from being alarmed by [his] burdens, I give thanks, because I know that he is being stretched and pulled for a reason. Alex is being provided with an opportunity to become a man of faith, a man of trust." (emphasis mine)

My prayer is that these things are true, that my "Land Between," my "Exile" has provided me with the opportunity and proven me to be a man of faith, a man of trust.


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