a new chapter

I love to read. When I was a kid, I would devour books. I can remember getting to the end of just about every chapter and not being able to stop. Now that I’ve been reading my whole life, I know that not all books are written in such a way that the chapters end with a cliff hanger, but I would have to say that the best books I’ve read have a way of pulling me into the next chapter.

IMG_9104If I were to carry this analogy into real life, when you are living in the moment, it can feel like a cliffhanger is happening to you. Maybe it is because of your circumstances or maybe it is because you sense God is moving in your life. Whatever the reason, it can be difficult to let the cliffhangers pull you into the next chapter of your life. Many times, I can find myself getting stuck in the old chapter…in a perpetual cliffhanger. At a certain point, it doesn’t become a cliffhanger any more but a really bad storyline that involves me having tired arms.

As a Christian, I believe that God is always calling us to something. I’ve lived in many moments of God calling me to step out, or to stick with something; to love someone unconditionally or to experience more joy in a particular situation. Over time, I’ve noticed that I am not always listening to God’s callings. There is so much fighting for my attention that I’m unable to hear him.

On the other hand, I admit that I believe I’ve heard God calling,  but I’ve been unwilling to follow his voice. What God calls us to is not always the most comfortable. So what if you feel like God is prompting you to do something? Are you willing to follow the call?

If I were honest, I believe that God has been trying to get my attention for years. On one hand, I’ve been trying to push through, to not quit, to look for solutions, to be a team player and not let the team down. On the other hand, I have been unwilling to believe that God could have a new chapter that is better than the current one.

As a result, I’ve been dangling from a cliff for some time. The big question for me, is am I willing to let go and trust God to continue the story?

Well, I have finally gotten to the point of letting go. I am leaving my position as Technical Arts Director at Willow Creek Church. I will be working through the Global Leadership Summit in August, then I’ll be done. (For those of you who are a site TD, I’ve got one more cowbell performance in me!)

I have watched God do some pretty amazing things through me and through my team. Whether it was the way we worked together, or the way we were able to touch the lives of thousands of people each weekend, or watching my team inspire technical artists through the Arts Conference then through Gurus of Tech; God has used us in ways that none of us could have done ourselves.

For those of you who know my story, my journey to Willow Creek was more about God asking me to leave everything and follow him. While my current situation is completely different than 10 years ago, God is still asking me to let go and trust him…to leave everything and follow his call.

Where is he calling? I don’t know yet. The only thing I know for sure is that he has asked me to let go and trust him, so that is what I am doing. My family and I are terrified and super excited for what is next.

If the best stories are made up of chapters that end in cliffhangers, I want my story to be great. Not great for the sake of great, but for the sake of being used by God to the fullest. I want to look back and see how letting go of the cliff led to the next amazing chapter, and that the author of the story could only be God.

In what ways are you hanging on? What do you need to let go of so that the next chapter can start?

 

[As a side note, I plan to continue to write this blog. I anticipate there will be many stories of God working through the next chapter of my life. And since I’ll still need to process these things by writing, there will be more then enough content for this space.]

photo by: quinn.anya
  • Amy

    “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.” John 10:27….That’s what kept coming to mind as I read this and prayed for you and your sweet family. You are listening to His voice, He knows you.. and in verse 29 He reassures that no one can snatch you from His hand. Your bold move– leaning hard on Him is exciting and inspiring. I can’t wait to see what God has in store for you all. I have a friend who says, “If you want God to write the story, why are you fighting Him for the pen?”

    • Thanks for you comments Amy. I love that last quote. So true! So much of our lives, we are trying to be self-sufficient, so it is really hard to not just take control.

  • Brian Lucas

    And sometimes we find ourselves having the audacity of wishing we could write the next chapter of other people’s lives, even though we have no business entertaining such nonsense, and even though we have enough to do just following God’s call on our *own* lives. Can’t wait to see what the next chapter for you will be, Todd. HUGE blessings, my brother!!! ;-)

  • Anthony Coppedge

    Todd, I too know what it’s like to walk out and do something you don’t see. But I also know that when God calls you, God provides. Peace about a decision is more important than logic or understanding. You serve well, Todd, which is why you also lead well. I look forward to hearing what God does with you in the season of rest before your next season begins.

    • Thanks for your words, Anthony. Peace is definitely one word I would use to describe the decision to let go. The further away from the act of letting go I get, the faster the ground seems to be approaching! I know that God wouldn’t call me to leave everything if he didn’t have a plan in mind. I can’t wait to see what it will be!

  • Brent Richardson

    Todd: I know the feeling, only the last cliff I was on, God “shoved” me off. He pushed me out of the nest of complacency and familiarity. I was laid off. For several years before being laid off, I was miserable. I knew I needed to move on, but I just couldn’t. Then the moment it was clear that I was joining “the graduating class of 2007” along with many other employees, I felt God’s amazing peace. It was exhilarating! I knew that at last I was on a God-driven adventure. I vowed never again to hang on too long and wait till the Lord kicks me out of a nest. So, today? Hmmm….Let’s just say that your FB post– the timing was unreal. Right now I feel like I’m clinging to my latest cliff, unable/unwilling to let go. Things are going great where I am. So great, in fact, that I feel that my job here is done. You see, I like-no, I can be OK with saying this- I NEED, huge, overwhelming challenges. But those are all behind us now. Is the Lord again saying to me “let go”? I’m not sure what my next move would be (maybe a complete change of careers), but your article has inspired me to look deeper into the cause of why I’m afraid to let go. THANKS!

    • Thanks for your comments Brent! My hope is that we can look back and see God writing the stories along the way.

  • Elfamosobonfis Yomerito

    I WISH THE MAYOR OF SUCCESS IN THE FUTURE, GOD BLESS YOU PLENTY

  • Todd, great post. I, too, have been through this time in leaving my full-time role as TD. I also felt God’s prompting months beforehand, and I just wasn’t listening well enough. As a TD, I was FAR too busy (and, overworked at times). I can tell you with confidence–God took care of us so well afterwards, and we have been blessed far beyond what I could have imagined then. Three years later, I’m still not exactly where I want to be in the long-term, but there’s plenty of light at the end of the tunnel. I’ve learned how to do powerful ministry outside of working full-time for a church, while still serving the Church in a huge way. Most importantly, I continue to hear God’s prompting. I’m confident your story will be similar, simply because we know this of God’s character. He is so good like that.

    Writing is a fantastic way to process through life while still serving others through our words. My best word would be to stay close with other guys with similar stories and work experiences. Great guys like @dukedejong who are now years out pulled me through. Reach out if you ever need anything.

    • Thanks Tom. I’m really excited to see where God takes my family and me. Looking back, He has not let us down yet!