But, that's not to say it's all daises and roses. The more I research Mormonism and prepare for my entire family to move out there, the more doubts begin to settle in. Some of those fears and doubts are normal. Whether or not I will get along with the other pastors or the people, whether or not my style of leading worship will work with the congregation, or whether I will make enough to provide for my family are all things I'm struggling with. Honestly, I think these serve a positive purpose at framing my heart and making sure that I keep the main thing the main thing and trust that God will indeed execute His sovereign will in my life, my families life, and His church...which is a good thing.
But out of those fears, there is one fear that keeps coming back to me.
What if my kids become Mormon? What if my son falls in love with an LDS girl? What if my daughter wants to be married in the temple?
What if...what if...
My heart aches for what my kids might possibly encounter as we become enveloped with Mormon culture. While my wife and I will teach them about Jesus, His word, and His amazing grace I worry that their friends will end up trumping His truth and pull them away from His word. I worry I won't be strong enough to shield them from the enticing lies of the enemy. I worry that being around Mormons 24/7 will decrease my effectiveness to speak truth and wisdom into my children's lives. I worry that my background in Mormonism and bias against it will cause my children to rebel against me and what I'm trying to instill in them. Honestly, I could go on and on.
And as these ideas were rattling in my brain, the Holy Spirit gave me a verse to ponder...
"If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters--yes, even their own life--such a person cannot be my disciple." -Luke 14:26
Now, I know this may not be comforting sounding to you, but it made me stop and breathe a sigh of relief. Amidst all the chaos of worry, this verse made me check my heart.
I'm not moving because I want to shield my kids from the outside world (even though that is what my heart is screaming right now) but to praise and worship God with my life. I'm not going to Utah because I need a new job (though a change would be nice) but because God has called us there. I'm not living for my own selfish desires (selfish meaning to raise my kids my way and have them turn out the way I want them to) but for Jesus and for His call on my life.
If I hold His word in such high esteem - as I do - then I need to relax. Luke, or rather Jesus, says His Gospel is more important than anything I could have on earth, which would include my family. And, so while I absolutely love my wife and kids more than anything in the entire world, I must love - and therefore follow - Jesus more!
Then, while thinking about this verse and struggling to see the whole picture God had a one sided conversation with me:
In all your worries, where do I fit in? Aren't I God. Aren't I in charge? I'm in control, not you.
You're worried you wont be a strong enough father or leader. But, you can't be; you won't be. Apart from me, you can do nothing. But I am mighty and I am here.
Do you not think that I love your family more than you do? Do you think I'll walk away from them? Have I walked away from you?
You're worried you're not going to be able to save them, but that's not your job. It's Mine.
You're worried that their friends will mislead them, but you know My word is power and My gospel is true.
Why do you worry about things that you've never had control over? Be still and know that I am God!
And then I was reminded of all the times in the Bible that God said, "do not fear." I remembered that I am loved by the one true God and that this decision is within His sovereign and moral will. I remembered that Jesus saved me out of Mormonism for this purpose. I remembered that God gave me my wife and kids. I remembered His faithfulness throughout this entire process. And then I came to the conclusion that I am not in control God is, and if I believe that then I need to live like it.
ABIDE IN ME (JOHN 15:4)
As a Christian, it's easy to say you love Jesus more than anything, and sing about it on Sunday morning, and stick that bumper sticker on your car. But it's another thing entirely to live it. And as a man who is trying to teach His kids to follow Jesus at all costs and without hesitation, I guess it's time for me to walk the walk.
So while I'm apprehensive and fearful for the future and the lives of the ones God has given me responsibility over, I believe God is greater. I know that God is in control. I know God has guided our footsteps to Utah, for me to go into ministry, and for me to go back to school. I have to also trust that Jesus has guided our family to live there as well, for my children to go to school there, for them to have Mormon friends, for my wife to be away from her family and friends, to help raise our family in a church we've been to once, and on and on and on... Simply put, I have to trust "...that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." (Rom 8:28)
However, that doesn't mean I am relinquishing my role, or my responsibility, or my love for them. By no means! I'm still their father and my wife's husband. God put me in charge of leading my family for as long as I have breath in my lungs. The only difference now is that in that leadership, I submit and trust that His ways are greater than my own (Isa 55:9). I will still be the best father I can be. I will still teach my kids to love Jesus. I will still tell them the differences between Mormonism and Christianity. I will still teach my kids that our faith is based upon rational thought, evidence, and historical evidence that provokes our faith to believe and trust the Bible. I will still do all of this while trusting that His name will be glorified, His gospel will be preached, and my family is safely in His hands.