Everything was as usual when I saw Matthea and the kids board an airplane for Orlando on Saturday May 22nd. The plan was for her and the kids to spend the next 10 days with her family in Florida, then I would drive down on Monday June 1 and we’d stay there until Monday June 8th, when we would all drive back to Durham. Seemed like a good plan to us. They would have plenty of time with family in Florida, I would be able to have some quiet time at the house, it would be good for everyone. On my end, things were going well. I managed to see 2 movies at the theater in 2 days. I spent a day at the Lake with some folks from church. I successfully wakeboarded (apparently it is tougher than it looks). Things took a turn Tuesday evening, the 25th.
I was getting into may car at church when my phone rang. My mother-in-law say, “Jon, everyone is ok, no one is hurt…now here is Matthea.” That’s a helpful, but scary way to start the conversation. Matthea proceeded to tell me that her parents house was struck by lightning. She was ironing a dress and was knocked across the room. The light fixture in the back bedroom exploded and there was a lot of smoke pouring into the house. They gathered up the kids and called 911 on their way out the door. Matthea told me this and said there were now about 6 firetrucks at the house. Well, thankfully no one was injured. Also it seems there were no other calls for the firemen, since they never even had to turn on their hoses. The only damage was to some of the main electrical lines and some outlets. Within a few hours I had found someone to watch the dog and I was on my way down Interstate 95 to bring them back home…since there was no electricity.
Within 48 hours of my departure, we were all safe and sound back in North Carolina. It was an interesting trip. Carter and Katherine and alternated vomitting during the trip home. Needless to say we were all glad to be at home. 2 days later, Matthea’s dad had repaired everything and they had power now in their home. So we had a decision to make. What to do for vacation? We had already made the 1000 mile round trip journey to Florida and back. We were tired and exhausted and in need of some rest and family time. Sunday evening, the 31st, we decided to spend a few night in Myrtle Beach.
Monday we rested, cleaned, and packed. Tuesday morning we headed out for the beach. We found a good deal on a place to stay for a few days. The kids were having a blast, everything was great. Then we heard terrible news from back home. A dear man in our church was suddenly killed in an accident. We have only been in Durham for 4 months, but we have come to love so many of the people here already. In fact, we had lunch at this man’s home just 4 days earlier! We debated on coming back that night, but we decided to come back on Thursday morning. Our hearts ached for this family and their loss. Our hearts ached for our church family and the loss of a dear church member.
Some have said that our vacation was interrupted. Well, it may seem that way. The truth is that ministry is not my job. We wanted to come back and be with our friends who were grieving, we were grieving with them. Ministry is our life. Ministry is living life together. We’ll have our time of rest when the Lord sees fit for that.
This past Sunday I preached from Romans 8. I talked about how God knows all things and nothing is a surprise to Him. I have realized in the past 2 weeks that I should never plan for something without thinking that He may have other plans. I don’t think the Christian Life is ever boring. Now, there are boring Christians, but that’s another thing…Serving Christ and being open to Him is always an adventure. When I was in Ethiopia last Fall, our team leader, BeckyLynn (who blogs here), would always say, “you just have to flow.”
Thanks to many of you who have prayed for us these past few weeks. Thanks for following me on Twitter and keeping up with us.