December 31, 2007


This was one of the most trying years I have ever experienced. As I look back over the last 365 days, I pause and reflect on all that has happened:

My mom, Helen Backes, on January 8th took her own life by overdosing on prescription medication.

REFLECTION: It doesn't seem possible that it's been a year. After a lifetime of pain and mental illness, she reached a point where she saw no hope in the future. No reason to live. No reason to carry on. I've become more sensitive to the fact that so many times a simple phone call or ten minute visit can mean the world to someone. As I read this post I wrote earlier this year, it still feels as heavy as it did then. There aren't many days that go by without a thought of her crossing my mind and a feeling of sorrow and remorse over how much I failed as a son, as a Christian, and as a man. God has used her death to humble me and to chip away at my pride. God has used her death to seal within me a passion for the Gospel and the hope that it brings. God has used her death as a reminder to me that no matter how bad things seem, tomorrow is a new day and that we should always look for the hope that tomorrow brings. God has used her death to cause me to become a more graceful and merciful man. God has used her death in ways I couldn't have imagined a year ago. I miss my mom. I'm grateful for what God has done in me as a result of her death.

After five years of employment, Upward and I mutually agreed that I should no longer be a part of the Upward team

REFLECTION: Sometimes in life, there are things that absolutely don't make sense at the time they occur, but you very clearly begin to see the hand of God at work as more time is put between the present and the event. This was one of those times. I didn't understand at the time how five great years could come to an end so quickly and so poorly. It wasn't supposed to the end the way it did. And it was extremely unfortunate that it did. But as I look back it now, I can see that God had to orchestrate the events the way He did to forcefully extract me from the situation I was in because I don't know that I would have left on my own. In the same vein of God using Joseph's brothers attempt to kill him to get Him to Egypt, I can see God using unfortunate and sinful events by others at Upward to pry my loose and get me on the road back to Jefferson City to plant Eternity. I'll always be grateful to Upward for the experiences it gave me and the growth it caused in me, but I can very clearly see at the end of 2007 something I didn't see in the middle of it: God has a much bigger purpose for me.

God laid upon Jenni and I a calling to plant a church

REFLECTION: And this is the note that 2007 is very much ending with. I am anxious and excited about 2008 and what God is doing. As I leave this year, I could never have imagined ending up at LifePoint church and becoming the church planting intern. I could never have imagined developing the friendships and relationships that I have over the last four months. I could never have imagined God so perfectly putting me in situations to prepare me to plant a church. I could never have imagined God bringing me a friend and a coach in Lane Harrison that would speak to me the words God needed me to hear. I could never have imagined God doing what He has done. I truly am amazed at what God is doing and I agree with Habakkuk: I would not have believed it even it someone had told me it was going to happen. I simply wouldn't have. I don't think I could have.

And as I look to 2008, I wonder what I'll be writing on December 31st, 2008. Where will we be? Will we be in Jefferson City? Will we have a core group for Eternity meeting on a regular basis? Will we be preparing a building to meet in? Will the Gospel be transforming lives in our midst? Will we be seeing lost people converted? Will we be seeing marriages restored? Will we be seeing the sick healed? Will we be seeing broken lives made whole? Or does God have something else in store? I don't know for sure, but I will say this that I look forward to it.

It has been a year of pain, heartache, suffering, refinement, learning, humiliation, humbling, and a whole bunch of other challenging adjectives. But life is full of valleys and peaks. And life will always have suffering. But in the midst of suffering, I'm learning to see the beautiful and wonderful things God is doing as well. I'm also learning more about who I truly am and who God wants me to be as a man, a husband to Jenni, and a father to Trey and Josh. I'm a sinful human being who falls down every hour, but I'm growing and grateful that God has been merciful and graceful to me. I'm eternally thankful that God hasn't given up on me. I'm humbled by the Cross. I'm excited about the Gospel.

I'm hopeful for 2008.

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