How long are you going to be here? Pt. 1

Well, we sold our home in Waco. It makes some things more permanent, really. We’re out of Waco. We’re gone. If I’m honest with you, it makes us sad, really. We miss that ole’ town, and there are moment I sit in my office, looking at my paneled walls wondering how in the world we arrived in Bellville, and the fact that in a couple of months it will be a year that we’ve been here. Crazy, really.

Looking back on the grace God has shown us in this first year is beautiful. In no way have we deserved such a sweet, caring, and giving congregation. I’ve had friend have “horror stories” in the first churches they pastored – but not us. People have been overly kind and we’ve found kindred spirits within the congregation. It really has been beautiful. And we want to be faithful to this church, no matter what.

Since selling our home in Waco, a new test has arrived in the Criner household. A test internally, within my family, but also within our church community. Once you sell a home, people begin to ask when you’re buying a home. It’s a natural question really, and nothing to get up in arms about. Truth be told, there aren’t a lot of options for buying in our city – and so to answer whether we’re buying a home is and has become even more complicated. Besides this, we’re living in one of the church parsonages – my commute is short (across the street!) and it’s been fun to walk home each day and easily see the girls without having to drive far. But owning a home is something different – it stirs images of commitment, not transient.

But an old question keeps resurfaced: How long are you going to be here?

Ugh.

I don’t blame people from our church asking us this question – they know the facts. The last Pastor left after 5 years, so did the guy before him… So they assume I will too. Honestly? I don’t know how long we’ll be here, but neither does anyone else! The simple reality is that we are here now, and that’s the way we’d like to keep it.

When we sensed the call from God to Bellville, we saw ourselves as missionaries. Mission work is done by those who are on the mission field. To be a missionary to this city, you have to actually stick around long enough to make an impact. So, upon moving to Bellville, we considered ourselves “all in” – meaning, we’re rooting for this city to be the best little city it can be, for God’s glory and the good of our neighbor, of course!

This “all in” mentality may lack prudence or “future planning” but we really can’t live any other way. If we, no matter our profession, keep thinking about some other church or job, then we will have fallen short of the call from God to be where He has planted us. And one day, I’ll have to give an account of how we lived where God planted us. I hope he will respond with “well done.”

So – how long are you going to be here? I hope forever, until then, we’re all in.