Two Years Later

January is the month of fresh starts and new beginnings. It is when resolutions are made with gritty determination. January offers new opportunities.

I must admit that the first of the year is a tough time for me. It brings feelings of both positive reflection and deep regret.  It was January 2005 that I moved my young family to Las Vegas with a God-sized vision to create a community that would promote grace to people trapped in sin. It was January 2006 that dream became a reality and Grace Point Church was born. And it was in January each year that we would celebrate what God was doing through broken people to redeem other broken people in a broken city. And sadly it was in January 2011 that my own brokenness and refusal to turn from my sin led to my own demise.  Last January I wrote here and here about my "life outside of ministry" and what God taught me in year one.  Two years removed from that fateful day, here are some things God continues to teach me.

Healing is a process
God has done amazing things in our hearts in the last year. He continues to heal our wounded and sinful hearts. His work is ongoing. The same rings true when it comes to healing relationships. I was reminded earlier this year that I could not "fix" every relationship I injured through my choices but I can allow God to heal my heart and trust He is capable of redeeming those relationships beyond my control.  It is a tough process for a recovering control freak like me yet God continues to teach me to trust Him in this area.  And the good news: He is healing the most important of those relationships.

God is faithful
One of the harsh realities of a ministry-centered life is that once that ministry is removed from the equation there are very few viable options to sustain a living. I believe this one small reality keeps a lot of people in full-time ministry who would bail otherwise (a scary thought).  Before stepping away from Grace Point, all I knew was ministry. I had been involved in vocational ministry for 20 years. I had 2 Master's degrees and a PhD. And then suddenly I had no income. There was no severance package and no plan B. My financial security was forfeited in a single weekend. And yet God has been faithful.  He has faithfully provided for us financially when I was unfaithful.

Grace defies statistics
Statistics say that our second marriage will fail. Most do. After my One Year Later post, one of my former mentors e-mailed me to inform me that my second marriage will not make it. It was destined to fail. His harsh words hurt. And yet in that same season, God spoke clearly into our lives to let us know that His grace defies statistics. According to statistics, our marriage is destined to fail. According to grace, God wants our marriage to flourish.

It is easier to talk about the gospel than to live it out
Theory is easy. Application is difficult. In some ironic way, my sinful choices also brought out the ugliness in those closest to the situation as well. Thankfully a few of those closest to us have been able to process through the ugliness and extend forgiveness to us as we have asked and also ask for forgiveness for the sins that they perpetuated in the process (lies, gossip, slander, etc). Sadly, most have not. But guess what? I get it. I get it because I have lived it.  Talking about the gospel and its transforming power? Simple. Believing it is truly as transforming as we claim? Difficult. When most people tell our story, it most often ends with our sin. But when Jesus tells our story, it ends with how He is redeeming us from our sin.

Investing in broken leaders is tough
I honestly can't remember the last time I received a phone call, e-mail, text or any other form of communication from someone who invested in me "pre-fall" who just wanted to know how I am doing and what God is doing in my life.  Again - that is okay because I get it. I have lived it. But it does remind me that we tend to invest in those we believe have the most potential and remove ourselves from the ones who temporarily disqualify themselves from leadership in the battle. Thankfully God does not give up on leaders with issues. He restores, redeems, and uses them for His glory.

Life is a teacher
I made huge mistakes as a husband, father, person, pastor, and leader. My sin cost me deeply. Life taught me some cruel lessons. I am learning from my failures. And through God's grace, I am striving to be a husband, father, and person who honors Jesus and those entrusted to my influence.   

I have no idea what my future holds. People ask me if I miss full-time ministry. And my answer is yes and no. I miss teaching. I miss leading. I miss creating. I miss seeing life change on the front lines. I miss watching a God-given vision come to fruition.  I don't miss the pressure to measure up. I don't miss the loneliness. I don't miss the expectations placed on you by your own distorted self and by others. I don't miss the continual struggle to grow more, do more, reach more, give more, etc. So yes I miss it in so many ways but in so many other ways I do not.  Will I ever return to full-time ministry? Only God knows. In the meantime, I am going to focus on what He is teaching me right now and allow Him to guide my next steps. I've tried the other route and it didn't turn out so well.

This past week, a young man named Jesse Hill was killed tragically in Las Vegas. Jesse, along with his mother Crystal and his brother Jeremy, were some of the first people baptized at Grace Point.  Their story is one of God redeeming broken people. And in the midst of this horrific tragedy, God reminded me, "Devin, that's why I sent you to Las Vegas."  God was and continues to be bigger than my sinful choices.  He was faithful even when I was not.  And because His grace is bigger than my sin, the story of Jesse Hill ends different.  His story is a celebration of a life transformed by the love of Jesus. I have been reminded of this blessing this week when I have talked to Jesse's grieving mother who amidst this disaster has hope. She has hope because in the end Jesus wins and death loses. It is the same hope that resides in my heart today.

The first week of January will always be a time of reflection, regret, and yes celebration - celebration of a Jesus who redeems and continues to redeem broken people. 

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