By Ben Baumann
It all started back in 2008. Our little family was living in La Crosse, Wisconsin. We had established ourselves in our neighborhood, at our work places, and in our church. Our family was growing and life was comfortable. It was at this point that I was offered a new job in ministry.
I didn’t want to go, I wasn’t looking to go, but a job came my way that I felt led to take. It meant moving away from everything that I was comfortable with. I went reluctantly to the interview for the job. Though I didn’t try to derail it, I didn’t exactly give my best. I got the job anyway.
This portion of my journey was one of the hardest years of my life. I was stressed to capacity and I had no time for my family. I would get stuck working 12 hour days wondering why God would do this to me. What was His deal! I broke.
The funny thing about breaking is that’s when things start to become clear. God says that when we are at our weakest He is at His strongest, and in that moment of complete brokenness I could see what He was doing.
I had started going back to school in pursuit of a Christian Ministry degree and had also heard that there was a position open at my home church on Washington Island, a place that I had vowed never to live in again. The church had been looking for a youth director for two years, but couldn’t find anyone because it was too isolated.
In a moment of clarity, I found a quiet place and called the new pastor of the church on Washington Island. I introduced myself to the pastor and said I was interested in the position. Sounding defeated, he told me how the island was not an easy place to live. Having lived there for eleven years, I knew all too well how isolated it could be.
Soon thereafter, the church I was working for laid me off and I left to interview for the youth director position. I must have been the first person in history to be laid off with a big grin on my face. I'm happy to say that I got the youth director job and I spent four amazing years there.
While, given the choice, I may not have opted to journey this way, God's investment in my growth, and my experience in ministry on Washington Island, were significant in preparing me for effective ministry in my current job at Meadowbrook Church. God knew what He was doing way back in 2008. He was preparing me even then. He had the big picture in mind.
I love the way The Message paraphrases Ephesians 1:11:
“It’s in Christ that we find out who we are and what we are living for. Long before we first heard of Christ and got our hopes up, he had his eye on us, had designs on us for glorious living, part of the overall purpose he is working out in everything and everyone.”
We rarely see the big picture, but God always does, and He has plans for us. Are we willing to listen? Are we willing to give up our dreams in exchange for a better life and better dreams? When God altered my course I wasn’t ready, but I did it anyway and I’m so thankful that I did. The journey is ongoing. God knows where my next stop is, and I’m good with that.