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The average American moves 11.7 times during their lifetime, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The number of times the average American enjoys moving: zero. At least, that’s true of this average American. I’d like to share something from my life with you today about moving. That is, the physical act of moving and how God has used moving to move in my life.
If you haven’t met my wife, Stacy, and I yet, we’re not native Minnesotans. I grew up in a small town in northwest Ohio. I accepted Christ there when I was very young. Knowing Christ from my early youth has been one of the greatest blessings in my life. I always admire folks who can tell amazing stories of coming to know Jesus later in life, but I wouldn’t trade them for the abiding presence of Christ in my life through junior high, high school, and into college. Stacy and I met in college. After college, I joined the political science Ph.D. program at the Ohio State University. Two years later, Stacy and I got married and she joined me in Columbus.
Now, here’s what you should know about our thoughts at the time. We had prayed a lot about the right place for me to get my Ph.D., but we knew that graduate school was a temporary thing. We knew that we would be moving on in a few years, so we didn’t plan to get too attached to anything. Columbus was not home, or so we thought. Happily, God had other plans.
When Stacy and I were engaged, I heard about a small church plant that met in a movie theater in Columbus. I hadn’t really connected to a church community in Columbus, so I checked it out. By the time Stacy and I were married, I was attending the church regularly and starting to get involved in a small group and other church ministries.
Here’s where God stepped in and made our supposed wisdom look pretty foolish. Stacy and I didn’t scoot out of Columbus at the earliest possible opportunity to “move on.” Instead, we ended up spending eight years in Columbus. Our deepest friendships, closest community, and strongest ties grew from that small, movie theater church. We were in small groups, Bible studies, service projects, but primarily, we lived life within that community. We became godparents to our best friend’s children and celebrated more births, marriages, and all the stages of life. We also grew spiritually together as a married couple. In short, Columbus, and our church family there started to feel like home.
Then, something tragic happened. I graduated. Ph.D. in hand, I needed to find a school that needed someone to teach international politics. As I searched around the country, one of my friends in my small group mentioned a school up in Minnesota called Bethel. I sent a resume there, too but at the time, we were praying that God would allow us to stay in Columbus. God answered that prayer by emphatically closing the door to two different opportunities in Columbus and opening wide the door to Bethel (it’s an amazing story, ask me about it sometime).
So, it became clear we’d be moving. To Minnesota, where we knew almost no one. It was sad to leave our jobs, our house, and the other components of life in Columbus, but to be leaving our church family felt like leaving home. We grieved over it. We knew we couldn’t and shouldn’t compare churches, but even so, it was a long and frustrating first year in Minnesota as we looked for a church we could connect to.
Last summer, shortly after we moved to Maple Grove, I was talking to my next-door neighbor, who mentioned that their church met in the community center. That seemed very “movie theater chic” to me, so we checked it out. That’s what led us to Northwood. Since we’ve been at Northwood, I’ve seen a lot of the spiritual vitality, energy, and commitment that first drew me into our church in Columbus, too. It would be easy to say that Northwood is our new church home, but that isn’t what God has been teaching me.
Through the process of moving, I’ve been drawn to the Bible stories of others who moved. Abram, Joseph, Ruth, and Nehemiah all at one point or another moved. I think sometimes God moves us physically to move us spiritually closer to Him. See, what God is teaching me is where home lies. Home isn’t to be found in a geographical space, or even within a specific community of people. Home is where God is. Perhaps the famous German theologian, Meister Eckhart, said it better when he wrote, “God is at home. We are in the far country.” Minnesota felt like the far country when I left family in Columbus. But what God is moving in me through this move is the realization that feeling at home has a lot more to do with my trust in, my obedience to, and my relationship with Jesus than it does my geophysical coordinates.
So, I’m content that we’re forging relationships at Northwood and in Minnesota. We’ll celebrate births, marriages, and all the stages of life. We’ll pursue spiritual growth, service, and community. We’ll live life with you, so long as God wills it. But I feel confident in telling you that whether we’re in Maple Grove for a year or fifty years, I’m getting closer to home.

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