Since most everyone who reads this blog has some kind of personal connection to my family and me, I wanted to use this post to provide a quick “life update from the Sabakas.” Many of you have been praying for us as we have been seeking out God’s next steps for our family, and, in the last month, he has made his will clear. So, here’s the story as briefly as I can put it.

In August of this past year, I spent my last day as the Associate Pastor of a church and a flock that I had done my best to love and help lead for 3 years. The decision to make such a move was mutual between myself and the elders of the church – elders who I still respect and care for – and my leaving was not owing to any moral failure or sin issue, but what we summed up best as “philosophy of ministry differences.” The decision, in some ways, was the result of discussions that had happened for over a year and a half, and yet it was also a decision that my wife and I came to see in a single afternoon. It was difficult for everyone, and I struggled with whether or not it was the right decision for weeks and months after it was made. Yet God has brought us peace, and I know now that it was a choice he led us into.

After that decision was made, we did our best to leave well, and were helped immensely in that task by the transparency and support of the church and its leadership. I had seen and heard of people leaving poorly, as many of us have, and Andrea and I wanted more than anything to leave with grace and love, doing no damage to the church or the name of Christ, but rather modeling the truth of the gospel. We were far from perfect in the process, but, by God’s grace, we believe Jesus was glorified in it.

Since our last Sunday there, Andrea and I have been seeking God’s direction for our lives. We have wrestled hard with how God would have us serve his church next. We spoke with many friends and a few strangers, seeking wisdom from anyone God brought across our path. I sent resumes out, made phone calls, and ate many breakfasts and lunches with some amazing men of God, all of which God used to reveal my heart for the next ministry he was going to take us into. I talked with churches filled with beautiful, God-fearing men and women seeking a pastor to lead them. I was blessed by the opportunity to visit and preach at many churches in the area I currently live, and it was a joy to serve the people and pastors of these places. My family also grew to love a church down the road from us, where my kids participated in their inaugural Christmas program and I sat under caring, Bible-centered elders when we were not serving somewhere else. I even took a seasonal job that lasted 2 days – 2 humbling, educational days.

In all of this, we have learned much – some of which we are aware of and much of which we are not. These months have been filled with many happy times, as our family was able to be together often, and yet this time has been harder than we ever thought it would be. Our uncertainty and wrestling have shaken every aspect of our lives – our marriage, our parenting, our understanding of the church, and more – and we have been graciously forced to become more and more dependent on Christ.

And now, in what is our loving Father’s perfect timing, we are being ushered out of this season of uncertainty into the next stretch of our journey.

Despite all of the resumes sent and phone calls made, God used our Christmas letter to reconnect us with the church we attended during my time in seminary. My friend Mark, who is a member and elder at the church, called in January after reading of what God was doing in our lives and asked if I was interested in pastoring in Louisville, Kentucky. We all prayed, and after a trip to speak with the elders about possibilities and to preach on a Sunday morning, we all came to agree that God was leading us to pursue the possibility of me (re)joining Grace Fellowship Church, this time as their Senior Pastor. After a few more visits and conversations, it become clear that this was the direction God was leading. On March 27th the church voted to extend a call to me as their next senior pastor, and I humbly and joyfully accepted.

Throughout this entire process, God has encouraged my heart with Psalm 115:3 – “Our God is in heaven; he does whatever he pleases.” Coupled with that, I have been encouraged by the truth that, in light of the cross, whatever God does, however he does it, and whenever he does it, he can be fully trusted as a good, loving, and gracious Father – “He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?” (Romans 8:32) And so we have walked this part of our journey, trusting God’s hand, though often crying out, “Lord I believe, but please help my unbelief!”

So we are moving to Louisville, Kentucky! We went down there last week, and God provided us with a wonderful house to rent, complete with some built-in bookshelves and a beautiful backyard. Our plan is to pack up a truck the week after Easter and head south to join a group of believers that we already dearly love, and, by God’s grace and through his strength, I’ll join in leading Grace Fellowship Church in continuing to glorify God by shining forth the truth of the gospel to our area. We still need to find someone to rent our condo in Mokena*, and it seems like there are a thousand steps between now and us finally moving, but we know it will all happen very quickly. It’s all very surreal and hard to believe, but such is the way God works.

Many of you have prayed for us and supported us throughout the past months, and we are extremely thankful to God for each of you. God’s grace has been evident in our lives, very often through our friends and family, and we know that his goodness is pursuing us as we follow him into this new endeavor. If you think of it, please continue to pray for us – yes, for the renting of our condo and the move, but even more for God to be glorified as we serve him at Grace Fellowship Church.

O taste and see that the LORD is good;
How blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him!
O fear the LORD, you His saints;
For to those who fear Him there is no want.
The young lions do lack and suffer hunger;
But they who seek the LORD shall not be in want of any good thing.

Psalm 34:8-10

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* If you or someone you know might be interested in renting a 2 bedroom, 2 bath condo in Mokena, please get a hold of Andrea or me. It really is a great home – only about 5 years old, refrigerator, oven, dishwasher, washer/dryer hookups, and lots of windows. We have two parking spaces in the heated garage, and the building has an elevator and is within walking distance of the Metra. There’s even a new candy/ice cream shop in one of the commercial spots on the first floor! If you’re interested, you can email me at andy.sabaka AT gmail DOT com.