I resigned from Gateway this morning.

I'll talk more about it later.

It's later now. I wanted that out there asap because it was going to be out there in different places and I preferred to control that information. Might as well go to the horses mouth.

And this afternoon I had day 2, part 2 of the funeral, then a council meeting, then driving Micah to youth.... you get it.

So I'm in my beloved office, easily the nicest office of any Canadian Covenant Pastor I believe.
Yes, I resigned this morning. One of the toughest things I've ever done.

Things were shifting it felt like, since this past winter, and I couldn't determine what it was exactly. It felt like the church was at a great place, a kind of wide open space and I wasn't getting any sense of new direction for us.

And we struggled through Lauralea's health scare, then a daughter got married and two sons were graduating and my course was drawing to a close. I felt like it was a good opportunity to spend some discernment time about what I wanted to do for the next part of my working life. I quietly listed some of the dreams we've held on to for a while, and wondered if now was the time for some of those things to come alive.

It was a tough spring, feeling like we were waiting for the other shoe to drop, and something to fall into place and give us clarity, but nothing gave us clarity or peace.

Calls came from other churches, asking of we were open, and each one was processed & prayed through by us and some of the church leadership here, and nothing stuck, nothing seemed right or gave us that peace.

And then late one night an email came from a friend who asked if I would be willing to consider a church that needed some of the things I had to offer.

I knew this church and have known it for some time, and I need to say that I have thanked God many times that he had never called me to pastor it. For my own biased reasons, I never wanted to pastor that church, or truth be told, live in that province.

And just so you know how arrogant I can be, I have told God in the past, never that church. Please.

The reasons are my own, but I remember crawling into bed and telling Lauralea of the email and who had sent it. Once she heard who was asking she said "That's probably it then eh?" I said something smart like not if I can help it.

So we processed this call like any other, and I fought for a long while to get my heart to the place where it didn't matter if we went there or not. Obviously I had things to deal with about my perception of the place. Or at least, about my arrogance in telling God what I would or wouldn't do.

Fighting with God gets old, and I tried to get my head to the place where I could actually believe that God didn't care where I was working. But like Lauralea asked one night, "How do you feel about living in the belly of a fish for a few days?"

Point taken.

Really this process has been about coming to terms with my wants and wishes being contrary to Gods. And how to live in that space.

Fortunately or not, this church wouldn't get out of my system, I couldn't shake it. I had less peace when I considered dropping it, than when I considered walking it through. And the people who were discerning with us were agreeing. So we met with the church and they with us, and we were impressed with who they are. Good, prairie people, with a few systems issues and a long past history to live out.

It is a rural church, located in a field, in Alberta, at the crossroads of two grid roads. There is a manse beside the church, and a cemetery beside the manse.

It's a rural church, did I mention that? I've pastored in Southern Ontario with tons of people, then in Winnipeg with lots of people, then in Prince Albert with a few thousand people. But who am I when I pastor a church in a field?

Like I told a friend, my world seems to be continually getting smaller, or perhaps more focused.
So there is much to be nervous about, yet there is a great deal of peace that goes with this decision. I am good, really, about going there and I'm starting to look forward to it. I'm not so good yet about saying goodbye to this place. Gateway. Prince Albert. Saskatchewan.

And in all honesty I'm trying to process how it was that I felt like I wanted to go in one direction, and the direction God had for me, for now, is an opposite one.

Then the fortune cookie I got last March makes bizarre sense. It sits in a frame on my desk now because it has sat on my desk all spring and summer, taunting me with the words:

"You will find your solution where you least expect it."

Indeed.


36 comments:

  1. You & your family have been on my heart and in my prayers for months. I don't know how this can be since we do not even know one another, but I strongly felt you were resigning in the near future. I just sensed it. No supernatural powers, just a nudging. So, I prayed. Like crazy. You have obviously had a tremendous impact on your congregation and in your community... I have no doubt that you will (all) be intensely missed. Hope that at least some of the burden has been lifted and that you are looking forward to your next step.
    .ede.

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  2. I hope this is good and refreshing for both you and for Gateway. Change can be as good as it can be scary.

    We will be thinking and praying as you guys walk this journey. Let us know what we can do for you.

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  3. Ahhhh, nuff said - a few words can speak a lot.

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  4. My prayers are with you and Lauralea and your kids, too.

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  5. Praying for you, don't really know what to say but I hope and pray things will be revealed to you/have already been.

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  6. I guess that maybe it was time. That maybe the spirit is moving you in another direction after completing your studies. I may just be overly observant, but it seemed to me that when you went to Iona, things began to change in your field of vision. Yet that is what pilgrimage does to us. You know you are in my prayers. I hope you will share the journey with us.

    Blessings
    Jeremy

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  7. I don't have anything cliche or otherwise to say as I think I'm more shocked than most commenters. With this comment I just wish to add to the list of those supporting you & your family Randall.

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  8. Ummm...you're not running in the election, are you, Randall? ;) Well, okay, maybe not.

    I do hope the future will open up more freedom in Christ for all involved.

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  9. We all love you, Pastor Randall....ya, enough said...

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  10. I may be the only one to say this but...YAY! :) Let us know if there's anything we can do on this end.

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  11. I hope sleep comes easily tonight. Peace

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  12. Hey, thank you to you who have actually taken time to pray for us, or to talk to God about us, or sent us some good vibes. I fear who we might be by now, without that great grace you have given us.

    Thank you for your love and occasional notes and readership. I am hoping this place gets interesting again as I live in a new space with more cows and silence than ever before.


    ... did I mention, it's a church in a field??



    :)

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  13. It will be interesting to see what God does with Randall Friesen in a church in a field. Probably doesn't want you there for the cows.


    And did we mention that we will miss you?

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  14. Thanks for giving more than 10 years to Gateway. It's a much healthier place now than it was when you arrived.
    God's blessings on your new ministry.
    And I believe that despite being in field, you will have high-speed Internet.

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  15. God is good! I have to agree with Lisa's "Yay!" The quiet of the country will be a place of peace for you...you will be surprised at how much you learn to love it. Cows vs inebriated neighbours ...hmmm.
    However, in my celebrating, I do know the pain of good-byes and fears of moving on. Praying for you and Gateway and Malmo -

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  16. Yes, but it is a nice field. You have wide open spaces where all you can see is God. The fresh country air.... except when the neighbors have been out with the "honey wagon"

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  17. It will all be good...because God is good all the time. Excting times are ahead i know...

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  18. We too are wrestling and in that darkest place of the struggle once again such as you have been experiencing. Your decision gives us courage to also obey once the light begins to shine once again. We have done the church in a field in AB scenario and we pray that your experience with a similar church will be filled with a similar joy, peace, excitement, and knowledge of ministry given and received such as we had. The Lord be with your family and we join the prayers and pray'ers that support you in your journey of faith. Looking forward to your continued sharing over the next few months.

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  19. I, too, understand the "fear" about "living in a field". I have been there myself, since my "roots" are in the city. However, it's amazing to see how quietly & unassumingly, the country life grows on you. God is good...even in a field...where you can see, without a doubt, how amazing his creation is! Daily, I am humbled with how good God is... We are praying for you & your family, and Gateway as well. I agree with Natasha, exciting times are ahead...

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  20. Ditto to Delora`s comment. I never thought in a million years that I would end up a farmers wife! However, I have loved my 35 years out in the `field` and I hope you will enjoy your time here too! We are praying for you, your family and Gateway.

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  21. Didn`t mean to leave it anonymous...still learning about this technological world.

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  22. I am another city boy that has been transplanted "in a field." I wouldn't want to be anywhere else now. I have never appreciated God's creation more than since being "in a field." Last night (early this morning actually) I was in awe of the multitude of stars in the sky. Blessings upon you Randall as you and your family follow God's call. We're praying for you and Gateway.

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  23. Hmmm ... as I read your story, I thought that it sounds like your house is like mine. The voice of the Holy Spirit and the voice of my wife are very similar.

    Congratulations on your new call ... I think.

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  24. May your field always be a place of openness and clear sight. At least you should be able to see the townsfolk when they're headed your way with torches and pitchforks!

    ;)

    Calling to a place you said you'd never go? We won't make THAT mistake gain, will we?

    :)

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  25. Lot of talk about the field here.

    I'm actually a little jealous of where you will live. I haven't *seen* it, of course, but the idea is appealing to me.

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  26. well...reading all these comments many are excited that you are coming here 'to the fields' the fields can be scary but the cows are scarier...but i managed 6 years already and the cows are ok too :)

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  27. Saying goodbye sucks. I think at this point I can say I know how you feel. Two weeks ago I said I was never going to move to Alberta, to a field (sorta), and look at me now

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  28. Thomas you are my Guru.

    I'll follow your lead.

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  29. It's probably trite to write about a "higher calling" but that seems to be what is happening for you yet again. I am in awe of your faith and strength to make such a move. I am happy for you and you are always in our prayers.

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  30. It seems to me there is a story about Lilies of the Field, about one's life experiences being about making choices. And, so there you have it, another step in "your" story, Randall (and those who walk beside you and our Saviour). Instead of thinking of your decision in terms of "loss" and "gain", I will reflect more on "hope" and "grace" and wish you all the best.

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  31. Wow. Surprised me.

    But I'm glad you could clearly discern God's calling. It's tough.

    It seems you keep getting closer to BC.

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  32. I'll never forget when you came here, Randall, and told us that you felt God was calling you to Gateway and that was the only reason you had applied to be our pastor. You were perfectly happy in Winnipeg. You said that you felt God wanted you to come, but if we felt that you had heard Him wrong, we could just let you know and you would be happy to stay in Winnipeg! That did it for me. I was so happy to welcome a Pastor who listened to the voice of God and let Him call the shots. It's not so much fun now - and yet I am glad that you are still that kind of a man. If God has called - then He will take care of all the details, for you and for us.

    All of your talk about "fields" reminds me of that verse in Romans 8:9 as it reads in The Message
    "Those who trust God's action in them find that God's Spirit is in them - living and breathing God!Obsession with self in these matters is a dead end; attention to God leads us out into the open, into a spacious, free life."

    May our God give you a "spacious, free life" - not only in the "fields" but in your spirit and ministry as well - and may He do the same for us here at Gateway! I know He hasn't forgotten us!

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  33. Hi Randall, I have to say I am sad to hear that you are leaving Gateway as I know you have been good for the Church and it's people. But I also realise that change is sometimes good and that we can't expect for things to stay the same for ever. I want to take this time to thank-you for all you have done in my life and in my family's (Todd and Brittneys). I have to say I don't know whether Todd and I would even still be together if it wasn't for your counselling, time, patience, and effort to help us work through some of our major issues, both with ouselves and each other. Words can simply not express what you have meant to us and I have to thank-you with all my heart for your kindness and direction. I know that the church in Alberta will be so lucky to have you leading them. You really have a gift and I am happy to have been one of the lucky ones to have been blessed by experiencing it. I will be praying for you, Lauralea & family....Thanks again

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  34. Wow, I remember a day similar to that in my life. Good luck and blessings on the future.

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  35. Ok my heart just broke. And smiled for you.

    Any way they could build a bridge between Saskatchewan and that field?

    Praying for you and excited about this wickedly twisty road has God you on.

    Hugs from us.

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