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OPINION: Where am I? Where am I going?

by By Gene Linzey Reflections on Life | August 31, 2023 at 4:00 a.m.

We lived in the Jemez (pronounced Hāmĕz) Mountains, 30 miles from town in New Mexico. I worked at a scientific laboratory 55-60 hours a week, and from 2001-04, I was pastor of a church 200 miles from our home. I drove the 400-mile round trip on weekends, and my deacons took care of things Monday through Friday.

I don't advise anyone to do that unless the Lord wants them to. However, the Lord prompted me to accept the pastoral responsibilities for what turned out to be three and a half years and help the folks resolve some serious problems.

To jump ahead of my story, the first week I was there, one well-known man in town informed me that the church was known as "The Fighting Church." But when I resigned as pastor three and a half years later, that same man said, "Pastor Linzey, we wish you were staying. The church is now called "The Loving Church."

I thank the Lord for that. Now, back to today's story.

As an operations officer at the lab, I had 22 different responsibilities. I won't go into that, except to say I interacted with various lab divisions and with government officials on several levels. I had decided not to take work home with me ... until I found myself working until 9 and 10 p.m. at times. I would rather work at home that late and not drive the 30 miles on winding roads through the mountains.

As the months and years went by, I didn't know I was being negatively affected. I maintained a cheerful attitude, enjoyed life, enjoyed my work, and enjoyed being a pastor and helping people ...

... until one night ... a night I will never forget!

I didn't remember leaving the lab and getting into my car. I had driven for a while when I realized I didn't know where I was or where I was going. And for the life of me, I didn't know why I was even driving the car but I figured I must be going to see someone.

I didn't panic, but I remember thinking, "If I turn around and go back to where I came from, wherever that may be, maybe I'll figure out where I'm supposed to be going."

But before I found a place to turn around, I heard in my mind, "Don't turn around. Keep going. You'll be okay."

I didn't know where that came from, but it was a peaceful voice.

As I mentioned, I didn't panic, but that voice settled my thoughts. Looking at my gas gauge, I figured I could drive about 250 miles, and if nothing else worked out, I would most likely find an all-night gas station.

It was a pleasant drive in the bright moonlight, and I wondered if I had ever been there before. I tried to think of the name of anyone I might possibly be going to see and wondered if whoever it was would allow me to spend the night.

I later realized that I had passed areas called La Cueva Campground, St. Peter's Dome, Sierra de Los Piños, and Redondo Campground. But it was when I reached what I called "Horse Valley" that my memory came back into full focus, and I yelled, "I'm going home! I'm going to see my wife!"

The emotion overwhelmed me, and I began to cry.

Within two minutes, I reached the street I would have missed and was almost home.

"Where've you been? I thought you would call and ...." She didn't finish when she saw my tear-stained face. "What happened?"

I couldn't talk right then but hugged her and held on to her for a while until my emotions had a chance to settle down. Next to Jesus, Carol is the most important person in my life, and I felt I was almost in heaven in her arms.

I didn't go to work the next day but stayed home and rested. We had a serious discussion about our future and realized something had to change.

The next weekend, I told my deacons about it. We talked about how the church problems had been resolved, attendance was high, and they agreed that I had accomplished the challenge God had given me. I told them I would be resigning as pastor soon and appointed my head deacon as the next pastor of "The Loving Church."

Friends, change is necessary. Don't be afraid of it. But be wise and ask God to guide you.

S. Eugene Linzey is an author, mentor, and conference speaker. Send comments and questions to mast[email protected]. Opinions expressed are those of the author.

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