Turning left.

This morning, at the corner of Trier and Hedwig, we will turn left instead of right.

For the last eleven years, on Sunday mornings we have gone to the right. Sure, sometimes we went straight at that intersection. Sometimes we went in two cars and each took a slightly different path. Sometimes we went other directions because of vacation. But for the past eleven years, our path has gone southwest rather than northeast.

In less than an hour, we’ll turn left.

And we don’t know what will happen.

I mean, we know that my new title is executive pastor at Grabill Missionary Church. But we don’t know what that means for us. Because it’s not a job.

We have lots of pictures of what church is. But I have to work from what God says church is. And it isn’t a job. It’s a family. It’s the Body of Christ. It’s a temple (the people are, not the building). It’s a flock of sheep. It’s a bag of change. It’s a vineyard and a vine. So this isn’t like a job.

And it’s not just about me. That group of people playing with new cell phones, laughing with each other, they have been part of the southward journey for the past decade. They are not longer nine and five. They include a girlfriend. My whole family is part of this, because they are all part of this family/body/temple/flock/change/vine. At least once a week, they show up at the place that holds my office and it has to be more than my office building. Somehow, it’s gotta be the place where the family reunions are held, where the body stops and looks in the mirror, where the temple find out whether there are any new bricks.

And so, this morning, I’m wondering what kind of organ transplant is happening today. How long will the surgery last? Will the antirejection drugs work, will we be the right size? Will the blood start flowing right away?

Or will the bricks we are fit into the building being built in Grabill? Will it be clear that it was the same craftsman that shaped us or will we wear too many marks of our own attempts to fit into the spaces?

But people have been making this kind of journey and these kinds of changes in response to what they believed God was asking them to do for millenia. Paul talked about his own imperfection and his own spiritual aspirations and wrote, “I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.”

So this morning, though I will confess to a measure of anxiety, I know the Surgeon. I know the Shepherd. I know the Builder. I know the Vine and the Gardener and the Head. And so, as we turn left this morning, I’m confident that the one who started a process of transformation in me will see it through to completion.

And you are going along for the ride.


13 responses to “Turning left.

  1. Jeff Cleveland

    I’m looking forward to hearing how your left turn turned out the be the right thing for a lot of people. Thanks for inviting your 2.0 friends along for the ride.

  2. It’s exciting to get a first hand glimpse into your new role and what it means in terms of transition for you and your family. I wish you all the best and I’m certain your time will be fruitful in your new church.

  3. I’ve no doubt that you’re going to the right place, one where you are needed.

    We’re right here in the backseat.

  4. Jeff, Eugene, and Chel…
    thanks for stopping by and then climbing in. As I was walking around the back of the room during the gathering time, taking pictures with my phone, knowing that I was planning to put them up, i realized that I am coming to this position, this clearly 0.0 position, with a different sense than ever before. How can I combine worlds in a way that makes sense to both?

    I’m not sure what it’s going to be like, but I’m grateful for your encouragement and your presence.

    Can I get you some coffee or anything?

  5. I hope you can find encouragement and joy from the fact that at least God has made it clear that the journey starts with the left turn–consider Abram: no GPS, no KJV or NIV, no….

    May your journey, too, be the means of a blessing to many.

  6. Amy
    Abram was very much in my mind this morning, with the confidence of going but no certainty of what would happen. And too, there was no problem with where he had been…other than it not being where he needed to be in the future. So it wasn’t like Israel in Egypt, needing to leave oppression…any of a number of other such examples of journey.


  7. It is just like Jesus to take us to the unfamiliar and the uncomfortable so that we are forced to become even more familiar with Him and more comfortable in our dependency on Him. This left turn provides that opportunity. It is a part of the journey that keeps us growing in faith,

  8. I see Jon, we were the egytions keeping you oppersied :+)) Today was diffrent with you gone, even though you were usually background your presence was always known. you are and will be missed. hope you will take what you brought us and even more to grabel. your friend

  9. Lowell Swanson


    Brittany, Ronda and I
    wish you the best of luck
    with your new “assignment”,
    if one can call it that. I
    no doubt you are travelling
    to a great new place in your
    life, I’m happy and PROUD to
    be along for the ride and look
    forward to visiting.

  10. Here’s the delight. Tom’s a good friend who traveled to NYC with me this fall. Oh yeah. He’s a pastor, too. Dennis, a good friend from FMC, growing and deepening. Lowell? I’ve known him since he was, well, not nearly as tall as he is now. He’s my couple years younger cousin.

    So together, from very difference places, we are growing together. Is that cool, or what?

  11. Kerry Hubartt

    I trust you will find us to be a warm and loving family, and one that will support you, pray for you and be there for you in good times and bad. Welcome home.

  12. kerry – thanks for the welcome yesterday morning. there is a real sense of moving from one home to another which is comforting and delightful.

  13. Jon,

    Because you know the shepherd and you listen to his voice, I’m sure you and the new church will do brilliantly!