On May 22nd I wrote a post on how I had lost my job, but not my calling.
On June 22nd I accepted a new position at Palo Alto Vineyard Church, doing almost the same stuff I had been doing at City Church. I’ll be doing ministry with young people, plus some design/visual storytelling/social media/communications/outreach/fill-in-the-blank.
Below are a few of the folks I’ll be working with [though I’m replacing Matt-red shirt].
My calling continues.
A lot has happened over the past 7 weeks, needless to say! On May 8th, I was laid off, and over the weeks since, there has been a lot of wondering going on in our home-and some stress for sure.
The peace I had been experiencing as I discovered my job was expiring was held right alongside the tensions stemming from the myriad concerns about possible transition. We had plans to consider the possibility of a move back to Michigan slated for July 15th, meaning we intentionally did not talk about this at all even though we planned to begin that conversation mid-summer.
But we are staying here, and it seems things are simply rearranged. We believe God is working through the din and confusion and change, bringing us through to something good and right, to a place where we will learn, contribute and lead.
That place is Palo Alto.
Palo Alto is rather unique in a number of ways. Similar to San Francisco, it has a fascinating history. But instead of the Summer of Love, cable cars, and sourdough [ok, I know there’s a lot more!], Palo Alto has a different edge. Palo Alto, Mountain View, Sunnyvale [where we will likely be living], and their surrounding towns are part of what is referred to locally as “the peninsula.”
Tesla is headquartered here.
The Googleplex, Google’s headquarters and largest campus, is in neighboring Mountain View, where our church office is located.
In Menlo Park, which is adjacent to Palo Alto to the northwest, sits a little [big] campus to a little company called Facebook.
Oh-and just slightly south of Sunnyvale in Cupertino you’ll find Apple’s headquarters. You know how iPhones have a default weather setting for Cupertino? Here’s why!
There are plenty more world-shaking companies around, lots of economic activity, and some strange things I’ll take plenty of time to get used to.
But within all the craziness, within the bubble that is Silicon Valley, people are still interested in Jesus. No matter how advanced the cars and phones and apps, there are still many who are drawn to this ancient Jewish peasant we believe to be God’s son.
It’s fascinating to find ourselves part of a new tradition of Jesus followers. So it’s a Vineyard church, which means they take the Holy Spirit pretty seriously. If you aren’t familiar with Christianity, it’s essentially a greater expectation for God to be at work, a great interest in finding God’s leading.
Coming down to brass tacks, my job will be a bit different than my role at City Church. With more volunteers and a history of lots of volunteer leadership, I’ll be doing far more collaborating and much less spearheading. At the same time, there is a bigger group of students, so I’ll be doing more guiding than building. Finally, the roles I’ll be taking on apart from student ministry will feel new and I think I’ll be challenged in good ways.
We are excited to be staying in the Bay Area; this is what we wanted, and I am pleased to see things unfolding as they are. There are plenty of new challenges, of course. The median income in Palo Alto is $127K [keeping all things in perspective, nearby Atherton’s median income is several times that]. We will be farther from Kaile’s graduate school. Though we found a good deal on a place to live [again, if it works out!], it’s still about 11% more per month.
And yet, we choose to trust that God is at work, bringing us forward in the right paths, walking with us through the ups and downs. Funny, I received this study book on the New Testament book of James right after I was laid off, and it emphasized the key text of the book, verses 2-4 of chapter 1, encouraging readers to commit these words to memory:
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
Weird, right? So was God the one who laid me off, testing me to see if I was faithful enough? If you read on, you’ll learn that the text emphasizes how trials teach us lessons; yet God isn’t some kind of weird cosmic puppet-master, tugging the strings of human existence and testing us. Instead, God walks with us through trials, challenges, temptations. God’s plan is not around pain, and God’s goal isn’t avoiding loss or grief.
James emphasizes in verse 17 how God gives good gifts:
Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.
Simply, when good things happen, we credit God.
When bad things happen, we search for God’s leading and healing.
And in all things, we give thanks. This is really hard for me-I’m the first to admit it. Yes, we have total permission to be frustrated about things, to be mad, to doubt, to get upset with God even [a great place to go for this is the Psalms!]. And yet, we are invited to trust, enjoined to search for the Spirit of God which is at work in us.
Today I’m on the other side of the crazy, floating feeling I had after being laid off; I’ve got a job to do and connections to make. Tomorrow holds, well, who knows what. I can’t be in control of that or worry about it, for I am alive right now.
And today, I say thank you to the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.