When one door closes, another door opens. Or should I say “doors?”
Have you lost something you cherish? Has a door closed on you that ended an opportunity?
On Sunday, March 17, 2019, the door closed on 29 years of ministry at North Pointe Community Church in Edmonton. We loved our roles. Jocelyn was the Women’s Pastor, and I was the Lead Pastor. We were fulfilled, happy, and we looked forward everyday to raising up leaders. Our church family loved us and we loved them.
We knew God was calling us not from something but to something. An unknown next. We were too young to retire.
Finishing well and handing off a healthy, prevailing ministry to younger leaders was the best farewell gift we could give to the church. Jocelyn and I boxed up my office and closed the door.
We shared a settled assurance that somewhere, sometime soon, another door would open to us. We should have pluralized the word “door.”
The Promise of Hope
Monday, March 18th was bittersweet. On Sunday we were responsible for 3700 people in the orbit of North Pointe. Twenty-four hours later it was just us. It felt like a cliff drop. What had we done?
We knew it was the right thing. We released something precious to God and us. Now it was just the two of us. Monday morning we sat at the kitchen table in a bit of a daze.
That moment held a reminder of hope. One year previous, March 18, 2022, Jocelyn received a phone call from her doctor that no one wants. “I’m so sorry. You have cancer. I’m so sorry.” A month later, Jocelyn underwent major surgery. Her medical team reported they successfully removed the cancer. She was going to be OK. Follow-up visits one year later confirmed that she was cancer-free.
Transitioning out of North Pointe we held on to the same hope that we would be OK.
The snow on the ground in April couldn’t take away the feeling that we were in the springtime of our lives. Spring is planting season in Alberta farm country. Sowing requires patience and risk. It’s a gamble to plant good seeds with nothing more than the hope of growth.
That week we planted REVwords.com. The site is a platform for hope, where people without a voice can share their story. It was our way of following God’s prompting to live and write as hope dispensers. Four years later, REVwords.com is read in 86 countries around the world.
You’re Going To Be Ok
I started writing my next book. The inspiration came from Jocelyn and the experiences of ten other women we love and admire. Each one of the women faced cancer, sexual abuse, mental illness, or loss. And all of them found hope.
“You’re Going To Be OK” was published in June. It’s a book of hope for fighters from fighters. Glori Meldrum’s story was positioned in the first chapter. Glori is a survivor of all four traumas. She was sexually abused as a child and suffered PTSD as a result. She lost her family when they sided with the abuser. Glori was diagnosed with cancer in her 40s and faced depression as a result of her prognosis. Her resiliency is extraordinary. God helped her fight through.
Writing the stories of women who battled for their mental health opened the next door. I serve on the Board of A John Cameron Experience. We are committed to making real advances in mental health in Edmonton, from diminishing negative stigmas to funding programs and scientific research. I pitched an idea for a book on reducing stigma and raising awareness about mental health to the chairman of the Board. He liked my idea. “Get Loud” – a book chronicling the stories of sufferers, their families, and the frontline warriors is underway.
Then Glori called me. She read “You’re Going To Be OK” and asked for my help as she worked on her biography. “Warrior” is Glori’s life story. A childhood sexual abuse survivor, wife, mother of 4 children (two adopted children), and successful entrepreneur. She founded Little Warriors and Be Brave Ranch – world-class initiatives for the treatment of child sexual abuse. Her story arises out of sexual abuse, but it focuses on healing.
Taking shape in my mind is a book about the process of becoming real. The classic story of The Velveteen Rabbit is a context for describing my leadership journey. I transitioned from feeling comfortable to live as a hermit to becoming a pastor of thousands. In the process, I discovered the courage of vulnerability. The title of the book will be, “The Velveteen Pastor.”
And then another door opened.
I was invited to become the interim lead pastor of Bethel Pentecostal Church in Barrhead, Alberta. Their pastor of 16 years retired in July. On August 1st, I started work as a transitional pastor. Supporting Bethel’s leadership while finding the next lead pastor was my priority. Bethel is an awesome church family of gifted leaders, devoted volunteers, and a vision that their best days are ahead. And they have a vision for their community. I drove to Barrhead weekly for nine months until a new lead pastor was found.
And then COVID hit and we were all sent to our rooms.
In May 2020 the retina in my right eye detached. Despite three surgeries the nerve damage was too great. I can still drive but my pickeball game is sidelined.
In January 2020 I started a full-time job as a coach with the Alberta and Northwest Territories District of the PAOC. The days are filled with coaching connections, developing cohorts, writing, weekend preaching, and helping to organize events for ministry leaders. Our team swings for the fences. We want to reverse the trend of decline in Canadian faith community communities. And we’re seeing hopeful signs of progress.
Our little family has grown. Jocelyn is the much loved “Gramma J” to five grandchildren. We get to enjoy family time by the lake at our cabin.
We could never have imagined the path before us when we left all that we loved at North Pointe. God is faithful.
How about that!
The freshness of spring is in the air.
Please join the conversation below in the comment section. Thank you.
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I loved your blog this morning Pastor Bob. I would have to agree…that when one door closes, another one opens. Many doors opened for me when I started going to North Pointe Church 14 1/2 years ago. After my divorce…after being in a 25 year old marriage. Feeling lost & disillusioned with life’s circumstances…I joined the Divorce course meetings. It was eye-opening to be in a room full of people who were all going through similar situations. I didn’t feel so alone anymore. Going to NP opened many doors…meeting people through volunteering my time in all the festivals & joining the choir. I have made so many friends. I am so proud to be part of this church family. I am very grateful & so appreciative that I saw that sign outside “Come as you are”…& went in to talk to Evelyn about Service times. The rest is history…time has gone by so quickly. It was the best decision for me to go to NP. I was baptized there too…by Pastor Bob 7 years ago. ❤️ & Became a Member of the church 4 years ago. Amazing things keep happening.
So many things! Such good strides! May the Lord bless, lead, and write through you. I will be particularly waiting for The Velveteen Pastor!
Bob: I am right now in God’s waiting room praying through my direction. While seeking the Lord at the start of the year during a time of fasting and prayer, the Lord spoke to me out of the story of Joshua and Israel crossing into the promised land. The spirit highlighted a scripture in that passage….”You’ve never been this way before….” When I leaned into it more, the Lord seemed to gently whisper, it’s a call to trust. and.I had a feeling my job was going to transition…I never knew that I would be asked to embody that message as the last week of January after over 2 excellent years at Mercedes Benz and enjoying enormous favor with management, co-workers, and customers, my job was deemed unneeded as they wanted to go a different direction and since there was no other opportunities, I was released from it much to the disappointment of co-workers and clients alike. I am in God’s waiting room right now for the next direction, I have been waiting on the government to release EI payments and have had it escalated three times now. But God has been faithful through this whole season. I am feeling some kind of ministry starting to be prepared for me, and I feel I am being thrust into a new opportunity that I haven’t seen yet for work, yet I know the father is working behind the scenes and on the hearts of the people whom I will serve in my next season. Would love to connect with you and Jocelyn next time I am in the Edmonton Area too.
Thank You PB&J
You two are an inspiration to me. I’m so glad our paths have crossed. Looking forward to the next books.
And the feeling is mutual, Teresa. #coffee #hotdogs #Costco
Thank you for updating us on your story, Mike. Challenging journey you are on. Would love to connect when you are in Edmonton.
Thank you for the encouragement on the Velveteen Pastor. I was working on it this morning.
So good to be reminded of your experiences at NP. You’ve been through some tough stuff but you’ve kept going. It’s always a pleasure when our paths cross. Maybe the next time will be at the SCT 2023.