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FIRST-PERSON: Embracing the unknown

ALPHARETTA, Ga. (BP)–The past few months have brought more change and transition than my family and I ever thought we’d be facing at this time in our lives. Just a few short weeks ago, we packed up everything in our home and made the move from Louisville to Atlanta.

Relocation brings a lot of emotions. As I walked through the home we were about to depart, I noted the details of photos and souvenirs — memorabilia from our family trips — recalling the faces and places, the sights and sounds that accompanied each one. I sat in the living room, remembering some of the long talks with my wife, Lynette, as we made decisions and sought God’s direction for our family.

Knowing we would soon leave Louisville, which had been home to us for more than 14 years, and move 500 miles away made my reflections bittersweet. Yet God reminded me that while our location would change, the opportunities for our family to make cherished memories would continue.

Fast forward just a few weeks and we are in our new home in Alpharetta and already experiencing some good memory-making moments. For Thanksgiving, our oldest two daughters came home from college, so our entire family was together for the holiday. The move hasn’t been without bumps, but God has been faithful, and we are making progress in transforming our new house into a place that feels more like home.

Our Southern Baptist family also is experiencing times of significant change as we seek to partner together in new ways to fulfill our individual and collective task of taking the Gospel to all people. We may be tempted to allow the question marks along the journey to slow us down and make us lose focus on the destination — Christ known to all and acknowledged as Lord to all — but we must stay focused until those question marks become exclamation points of celebration as people come to Christ.

Unfortunately, we’re not there yet in fulfilling the task of the Great Commission — in fact, some would say it’s an impossible goal. But we serve a God who laughs at the impossible. Our unchanging God often changes us to fulfill His purposes. I see that happening in missions here in North America and overseas. How thrilling it is to know God has a plan to reach the nations and that He allows us to join Him to accomplish that!

Some people were surprised when I accepted the position as president of the North American Mission Board. My church was growing, the ministry was successful and I got to sleep in my own bed most nights. I can honestly say it isn’t easy to leave behind the good things. But God’s call upon my life — and His call upon yours — will often compel us to move away from the known to embrace the unknown. Are you growing in your level of commitment to being obedient to Christ? Are your hands and heart restless because you have a burden for every nation, tribe and tongue to hear the Gospel and turn to Him? Are you there yet?
Kevin Ezell is president of the North American Mission Board, the Southern Baptist entity charged with providing leadership for church starting and evangelism in the United States and Canada.

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  • Kevin Ezell