Next Friday will be a significant day in the life of the Sivo family as Deb and I will be purchasing a home down in Whiting, which we hope will eventually become our retirement home. Living in the parsonage these last 19 years has been very costly in the sense of the equity that has been lost, so part of our desire is to have an investment in place so that when my service at NDC comes to an end we will have some sense of direction and purpose of where God can continue to use us for His glory and honor. At some point, I will no longer be the pastor at NDC, but I am not planning on retiring, but rather redeploying and finding new venues where God can use my gifts and abilities for the glory of the Lord Jesus Christ. When we moved back to New Jersey in 2004 I could hardly have envisioned a scenario where we would actually be thinking of spending the rest of our lives here. But because our oldest and youngest daughter have made New Jersey their homes and now our son Matthew has moved back to New Jersey and seems to be really enjoying his life here, it seems natural for us to plan to stay where the majority of our family is. We hope over the next four or five years as we draw closer to redeploying down to Whiting that God will continue to direct and use us in the ministry of the church to prepare the church for a smooth transition for whatever God has for NDC in the years ahead.
I agree wholeheartedly with Paul when he says, “Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus,” (Phil.3:13-14 NKJV). When I was working in the post office, I never envisioned myself becoming a pastor. I took a class at Philadelphia College of Bible in the fall of 1981, a counseling ministry class, in case God should ever give me the opportunity to help someone dealing with tough life circumstances. Because of my history of substance abuse, I thought maybe someday I could help someone in the area of recovery. That class led to another class and another class, and eventually, I graduated with honors from PCB. When I started my Masters degree in counseling (Fall 1986), while pastoring 2 churches in Western Pennsylvania, I had no idea or intention of ever becoming a licensed professional counselor (LPC) in the state of Michigan for 15 years. My thought process was it might be good as a pastor to have a background in counseling and be better prepared, because of the many complicated problems and issues that I saw emerging in our world, as our world moved further and further away from any spiritual frame of reference.
I do not know what the future holds for us, but I know the One who holds our future, and I rest assured that wherever we may be and whatever we may do the Lord Jesus will be there when we get there. He is the one who has directed our steps and guided us through many turbulent seasons in life and ministry. We trust He will continue to use us despite our frailties and failures. I’m reminded of Paul’s amazing statement (following a list of many of life’s trials and dangers) when he writes, “Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord”, (Rom. 8:37-39 NKJV).
Even though I am a deeply flawed and forgiven person I trust that the Lord Jesus Christ will continue to show up in His merciful grace and make a way for me to walk with Him through the transition that will be getting started next Friday. Life is filled with many unsettling moments, I hope that you have discovered the One who has invited us to come to Him with all of our burdens and all of our cares and know that He cares for us (Matt.11:28-30). It’s an invitation for all today, have you received it into your heart and life?
All for Christ’s Glory,
Pastor Rich Sivo