When I shared with Julie what the Lord was leading me to do -- uproot the family and hit the reverse Oregon Trail for nine months to attend Cornerstone School of Ministry -- she didn't think I was whacked. Nor did she faint, understand I was going through a mid-life crisis or suspect I had lost general control of my faculties. She told me that the Lord had been preparing her heart for a change. At the time she thought it had something to do with the ladies Bible study she was leading. After I talked to her, she believed the change had something to do with going to Oregon and she said she would pray about it. Shortly after that, after we had been praying and believing this was of the Lord, we convened a meeting of the Team Sabo Executive Board. I wanted to let our older kids know what was going on so they could pray about it and not just wake up one day and start packing rain gear and moss repellent. It was an interesting meeting, to say the least.
Joining us in the living room/board room were Brenton, Taylor, Ethan and Claire. Brenton was to leave for his final semester at Calvary Chapel Bible College in Murrieta, Calif., in a few days. Taylor was leading a youth Bible study on Friday nights which attracted up to 30 teens who came together to worship the Lord and study the word and Ethan was in a way his right-hand guy. All of the kids were serving in church as well and after 4 1/2 years in Gloucester had put down roots. When I told them we were praying about going to Oregon and why, Claire got teary. Brenton looked pensive -- I didn't know what to thinking because he was so supportive a year ago. But he said he would pray about it and see what the Lord told him. Taylor said that in his daily reading he had just been in Isaiah 6, which talks about how the people of Israel had their eyes on King Uzziah and not the Lord. He felt like it was the Lord speaking to him that the kids in the Bible study needed to grow in their relationship with the Lord and not looking to him. Taking him away would help mature them, he said.
Ethan flat out said he wasn't going. You can always count on Ethan in moments like this to say his peace. Ethan's name in Hebrew means, "strong, firm." The kid lives up to his name, no doubt about it. And just to throw it out there, Matthew means "Gift from God." (Editor's note: Oh brother. Author's reply: Just taking the facts babe.) Ethan said that we couldn't just abandon the youth Bible study while it was flourishing. When I told him to pray about it, again he said he wasn't going. Once again, I said to pray about it. He said I didn't understand him. (Picture me raising one eyebrow, then you have an idea of my reaction to that statement.) He wasn't going to Oregon. "Why don't you go to your room and pray about it," I said. Claire, as I mentioned, was teary. She didn't want to leave her friends. Nor did she want to leave the youth Bible study. I could understand the reaction of Ethan and Claire. They felt their place was here in Gloucester, not 3,000 miles away to a place that, although it was familiar to them, presented the unknown. And what was in it for them? The Lord had blessed them with good friends in Gloucester, a thriving group of young believers and so many other things.
We were coming down to the wire, though. If we were going, we needed to leave in a month and in my mind a decision was no more than a week away. I asked the kid to pray over the next week, continue reading their Bibles daily and let me know their thoughts. Afterward, though, I had this sinking feeling. I thought, "What am I doing to my family?"