Stories of Grace | Diving In & Digging Deep
“The Stories of Grace series is intended to capture snapshots of God’s grace and glory amidst our every day lives. They are real stories of real people who have seen the fingerprints of God amidst the ordinary—God’s favorite canvas. Each story is personal, unique and, often, unfinished. Through it all we get glimpses of God’s steadfast love, sufficient grace, and ongoing presence with his people.”
Like so many who live in Seattle, our stay here will not be permanent. I’m relocating my family back to California after living in the Emerald City for four years. This decision has been years in the making, and it is one that I have had to approach with prayer and careful consideration.
For whatever reason, our lives are marked by constant travel and transition. When Sarah (my wife) and I first met, she lived outside Chicago and I lived in southern California. She traveled the country for work and stayed in one place from just a few weeks to a few months before moving on. I was a young attorney working way too many hours each day. We dated long-distance and flew to meet in various places until we got married in California a year later. After only a few months I transitioned to my company’s new office across the country in Washington D.C. And then, only two years later, we moved back across the country to Seattle. Throughout these first six years of marriage, we’ve both traveled an average of 100,000 domestic air miles annually.
In Washington D.C. we became members of a remarkable church called Redeemer Church of Arlington. Even though we both came from lifelong faith backgrounds, it was the first time we joined a body of believers where passionate and theologically rigorous teaching was the main focus. In addition, meeting with small groups of believers in our neighborhood was a church priority and we jumped right in. With this church Sarah took a public step of faith through baptism because she found a new understanding of scripture and a reorientation of her faith. We made lifelong friends who challenged us to work constantly on our theology and to live ordinary life with gospel intentionality.
When we landed in Seattle in 2013, I already had a short list of church bodies to check out, but nonetheless I was concerned about where we would land. Having come from such a life-changing body of believers in Washington D.C,. we were understandably nervous about finding another church body strong enough for us to continue strengthening our understanding of Scripture, and that would guide us in intentionally living life through robust faith in Jesus.
Downtown Cornerstone Church was the second stop we made, and it immediately felt like home even though it met in an AMC movie theatre downtown. The theologically rigorous teaching and passion for Jesus Christ even stepped up a notch from our past experiences. We eventually became members of the church and learned an incredible amount through the teaching of the pastors and the focused commitment to mentorship and creating solid disciples of Christ. In fact, we actually completed the membership process around the time we started discussing whether we needed to move back to California.
I’m sure you are wondering why this life story matters, and why this guy is so long-winded. The point of all of this is that we learned the importance of being present, wherever the Lord has us. Both Seattle and Washington DC are transitory places by nature, where you can expect to be for a handful of years before moving along. When you know life will likely take you elsewhere, there is a strong temptation to limit involvement in your local body of believers and keep people from getting close. We like to use the excuse that we are saving people’s emotions or making sure not to use up limited church resources, or whatever. Taking that track will rob you, and rob others, of remarkable things that the Lord will do. We recognized that it is imperative to be where you are, when you are there.
Life does not start at some point in the future; life is what you are living right now. Don’t use the excuse that you’ll commit to a place once you get married, or have children, or buy a condo, or reach a certain point of financial or career stability. Commit now to the place where the Lord has you living and dive right in. I remember several moments where we made specific decisions to be present and not keep the church at arm’s length even though another move was imminent, and that decision yielded unfathomable results. We made genuine and deep Christian friendships in both Washington D.C. and Seattle, participated in church leadership and mentoring (on both sides), contributed to the start of brand-new community groups, learned the depths of Scripture at a new and exciting level, experienced true discipleship through rigorous education programs and cohorts of believers, and truly became Christians that we think non-believers like and respect. Had we taken a seat in the back row at the church gathering and bided our time, we would have regressed instead of enjoying the riches of God’s kingdom. All of this is remarkable evidence of the Lord’s grace in continuing to mold us in His image regardless of the ways we try and limit His ability to work.
Be present where you are when you are there, dig into the people God has placed around you, and allow the Lord to work. Don’t hold back waiting for some unknown future time to join in, because you will choke out the things He has in store.
There is always some trepidation at moving to another city when you have advanced in your faith. Not all bodies of believers have the same vibe, and not all teaching is as rigorous or intentional as others. Yet God, in His wisdom, created and provided church families for us to connect with and belong to in meaningful and substantial ways even during transitory periods. What’s holding you back from digging in and trusting all that He has for you where you are right now?
Growing in Christ,
Jonathan Lamb, DCC Member
If you are a member with DCC and have a story of grace to share please email firstname.lastname@example.org.