I’ve heard it said that the will of God is best discerned in hindsight. There may very well be some truth here, but there’s something about this axiom that doesn’t sit well with me. It seems like our Christian hope would lead us to more thoughtful living than driving through the rearview mirror.

In ministry we tie the word “call” closely to our vocation. I don’t think we have exclusive rights to this – folks feel called to a number of professions, but ministers seem to use this term universally. Both from the seminal moment when we first dedicate our lives to Christian service to when we align ourselves with faithful organizations like River Road—these are all calls.

Now here’s the conflict: how do you know when you are following your heart or God’s heart? This is tricky business. Sometimes we are faced with some really good choices, and determining God’s will versus our own will isn’t easy. These kinds of choices are probably more common than choices that are clearly right or wrong. I mean, clearly I was called to get that second piece of cake…

One of the many things that made us feel good about this move at this time was for us to be closer to family. In Alabama, Mollie would see extended family once a year at best. So I would be disingenuous if I didn’t confess that I wondered whose will I was following when we were called to River Road. Was I really just attending to my own needs or the needs of our family?

I need to share an experience that affirmed our call to Richmond. Just two weeks ago my nephew, Chase, passed away in his sleep. He had just turned 18 on Christmas Eve, and he was a graduating senior at Glen Allen High School. Chase had significant physical challenges throughout his life that led to some complicated care. On January 2, just after dropping Mollie off for her first day of school, I received a call that Chase was in an ambulance on his way to Henrico Doctor’s hospital. This is literally next door to our new apartment and Marnie and I rushed there to be with my sister-in-law just moments before the doctor shared with the three of us that Chase had passed away.

In the days to come we found ourselves thankful, even in our grief, to be near and do whatever we could to support my brother’s family. Even for an analytic like me, the circumstances that brought us to this place at this time are just too serendipitous to not see the goodness of God. And I wonder if in God’s goodness, God saw our need for affirmation just as God saw our need to be present for my family.

And the affirmations continue from our warm reception from members and staff to the otherwise seamless transition for our family in Richmond. Although we remain eager to see what a “normal” week at River Road looks like, we give thanks that you were attentive to call us, that God was gracious to call us, and that we were receptive to this new adventure. We’re looking forward to the good ministry we will do together.

Written by Daniel Ingram