On this day three years ago my family and I were visiting Fort Myers, FL for the first time. We flew in on August 5, 2010 to see the area, meeting with the pastor search committee of Cypress Lake Baptist Church, preach on Sunday, and flew back to North Carolina and then drove to where I was pastoring First Baptist Church in Pulaski, VA. Today I'm reflecting on that time as well as what the Lord has done these past three years.
That first weekend in August was a hot one! It was ridiculously humid and hot. Did I mention it was hot in August? Well, it still is! Anyway, my wife and I immediately loved the area. We like the beach, so being within a few miles of it sounded like a great thing. It's certainly not a big city, but reminds me somewhat of where I grew up in Matthews, NC. And, there were plenty of coffee shops around. All that was good and exciting.
On Saturday, August 7, I was able to meet face-to-face with the search committee. That was my first time meeting all of them face-to-face (we had several phone conversations prior to this). The meeting when well. Though I was still unsure if the Lord would lead us to this church. In fact, the Wednesday night before we flew down to FL we had a fantastic meeting at my church in VA. A meeting that caused me to reconsider whether we should stay or leave. I was torn at this point.
Then came Sunday! Sunday morning was a great joy for me. I preached a sermon from Matthew 16 because I wanted our church to know that Jesus would be responsible for building this church if He chose to do. One thing that drew me, however, was that when I looked over the small congregation I saw diversity. We were not all the same color! And that was really exciting for me. For the evening service I preached a sermon from Matthew 28 because I wanted our church to know that Jesus builds His church through His people being faithful to go and make disciples of all nations. All went well on that Sunday.
However, we were still not 100% sure God would lead us to CLBC. There was the flock in VA that loved us and cared for us deeply. And we loved them. Once we got back to VA it became clear that it was time for us to leave. There was a very uncomfortable feeling about the church. People knew I was preaching at another church in FL and that I may be leaving FBC. At that point it became clear to us, but Cypress Lake had not yet voted to extend a call to me. That came August 15. And it was unanimous. And we excepted. And within a couple weeks we were moving.
I wrote this blog post then describing the hectic schedule moving and settling in Fort Myers.
In the next few days, God-willing, I'll post some reflective thoughts on what God has taught me over the past three years.