August Message from Pastor Mike

Dear Friends in Christ,
I cannot tell you how grateful I am to finally be with you in worship and ministry here at Hilltop. But I’m going to try! For many months I prayed for the Spirit’s guidance as I began to sense that my time at my former church was coming to a completion. Not knowing what was next, my instinct was to try to take the reins and control my vocational path. But the Spirit gently reminded me to keep the words the Lord taught us, “Your will be done,” on my lips.
Before marriage and kids, I found change and transition exhilarating. Now with an amazing family to think about, change and transition feel more like a threat to my security and stability. And I know that securing myself to anything other than the Triune God—be it a job, an income, a vocational plan—is ultimately a form of idolatry. So, I have been learning to let go of my drive for establishing and securing my life over this past year or so.

Along the way, I found many faithful companions, some in the flesh, others in spirit. One such companion was Julian of Norwich, a 14th century Christian mystic and writer. Julian’s spiritual writings are well-known among students of Christian spirituality, and her prayers are some of the most profound I have come across. During the last year or so, when I had no clear direction, I clung to the words of one of her prayers:

God, of your goodness, give me yourself,
For you are enough to me.
And I can ask for nothing less that is to your glory.
And if I ask for anything less, I shall still be in want,
For only in you have I all.

I prayed this prayer daily for months. I reflected on the deep wisdom contained within it. I marveled at the tremendous faith that is required to honestly pray this prayer. And I recognized that this prayer was aspirational for me; that is, I have some maturing to do. But even though I lacked the depth of trust and resignation to pray this prayer with complete honesty, I still believed the prayer to be true and good. So, I continued to pray these words with the hope that bit by bit they would become authentically my own.

Over time and through mysterious ways, God brought me into contact with Carolyn Johnson and the Hilltop search team. We had great conversations and I continued to pray, not that Hilltop was the right place, but the words of Julian. Melissa and I flew out for a visit, and I continued to pray these words. The search team invited me to be your candidate, and I kept praying the prayer.

The Spirit brought us together for the candidating weekend, and I prayed the prayer. And here we are!

My point in sharing this with you, other than giving you an initial window into my spiritual journey, is to say that when I fought against carving out my own vocational path and—painfully at times!—gave the reins to God, the Spirit led my family and me to Hilltop. I do not know what the Lord has planned, but I trust that it is good.

And this is why I began by sharing that I am grateful to be with you; for when I entrusted my life and family to God, God brought us to you. You are God’s gift to us, and I trust we will be God’s gift to you. I look forward to our journey together.

Grace and peace, my new friends.
Pastor Mike

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