From “What If” to Real Faith Part I

As I sat across from Hugh, Joy, Tim, Marilyn, and Buddy I barely heard their questions.  I can only hope that I answered them intelligently and politely because, honestly, I can’t remember.  I had a tremendous headache due to the seven hour trip that we had taken to meet with them, and my mind was racing already with a million “what ifs”.  We had hauled ourselves, a newborn, and three other goobers across the Piedmont of North Carolina and the Smokey Mountains only to arrive hungry, frazzled, and punchy on the plateau of East TN.   The pastor search committee had traveled from West TN, and I’m sure they had their own list of “what ifs”.  Preeminent among my worries was this looming question:  “What if they like us?”  What then?  Because only slightly more scary than the committee not liking us, was the thought that they would like us. 

The committee and I had answered each others questions completely, so we prayed and adjourned until the next day when they would hear me preach.  I went back to the hotel room where my family had long since turned in.  Sleep, even though I was exhausted, was not an option.   T.V., since my family was sleeping was not an option.  So I put on my tennis shoes and went to the hotel gym which consisted of one treadmill, which thankfully was vacant.  I felt (and probably looked) like Forest Gump as I ran and tried to make sense of what God was seemingly doing in our lives. 

As I ran, I tried to process all of the nagging fears and questions that we had about moving our family to an extremely rural location.  The questions hung over my head like that anvil that repeatedly falls on the coyote in Bugs Bunny cartoons.  “What if we can’t hack country life?”  “What if we get there and the people hate us?”  “Can we tolerate the isolation?”  “What if there is nothing for our children?”  I have long since come to the conclusion that a person could “what if “themselves to death.  “What if” questions are so stupid.  They come from our fear of the unknown.  They bubble up from our desire to place ourselves in a good place, but make us incapable of making rational, prayerful, and right decisions. 

After getting a full two hours sleep, I got up and began to read over the sermon I would deliver in just a few hours.  I must have changed my outline ten times before folding it and placing it in my Bible.  We drove and drove and drove and drove and eventually pulled up in the parking lot of the little mountain church that had agreed to let me preach that Sunday morning.  I delivered the sermon (which I can only pray was coherent) to the committee and the members of that wonderful congregation that smiled at me even though I felt like I could throw up. 

That was it.  My family and I loaded up into our minivan and drove off with the assurance of the committee that we would hear from them soon.  As we drove back over the mountains of Eastern TN and Western North Carolina, we couldn’t imagine what lay ahead for us.  Robin and I both were apprehensive about a move to Cottage Grove but were open to God’s call wherever that might be.  So we drove back to seminary in Wake Forest, NC, both waiting for and dreading that phone call.  Somewhere around Greensboro the phone rang.  


Published in: on January 31, 2008 at 2:56 pm  Comments (2)  


  1. i guess i cheated and went to you wife’s photo blog to discover that her photo studio was in Cottage Grove so i am assuming you moved there. i found you because you left a comment on my blog today, so i checked yours out too. good read and even though i think i know what the phone call says, i will check back to find out. blessings on you and your family.

  2. Great post. I remember the same wait. It took all of 45 minutes to come. I love the tension between “What if they say no?” and “What if they actually say yes!?” I now believe that “what ifs” have their place but are almost completely unanswerable until we actually step in and experience things first hand. If they lead to wise questions great. If they lead to paralysis (my typical reaction) they’re not so great. Like the new look of the blog.

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