by Jim Campbell, First Baptist Church of Melbourne, Fl
For the longest time, this line, or some form of it, has been used to start a joke or a comedian’s monologue and it’s become such a staple in our culture that just reading it makes you expect something funny. Common sayings are part of all of pockets of culture in our world. For me, growing up in rural Alabama, the image of a “dirt road” was very prevalent. It became kind of an accepted joke with me that if you wanted to talk about failing at something, like starting a business or having a meeting, that you’d tack on the phrase, “down a dirt road” to the venture and it would signal impending doom.
Well, for those of you that know God, you know He has a seriously sharp sense of humor. Six years ago, after about 6-8 weeks of praying, I accepted the challenge from Dr. Bazer at FBC Melbourne where I was on staff, to take on the new role of Campus Pastor and help organize the launch of their new satellite campus in Palm Bay, Bay West Church. From there, God brought a joke of his own.
On a date night with my wife, after dinner, Katye and I didn’t really want to run back and rescue the baby sitter just yet, so we thought “hey, let’s drive down and take a look at where Heritage High School is going to be where we’ll be meeting.” So that’s what we did…and as we passed in front of that Maronda development just past Palm Bay Regional Park on the west end of Malabar, the tires on my SUV told the story….the road was unpaved from that point to the school. So, it hit me…”I was going to start a church down a dirt road.” Wow… Unbelievable, I thought, but, then it made perfect sense.
For eons, God has been the great Handicapper. He goes through His existence without much of a challenge, because when you are God, just exactly what is hard to do. In His effort to reconnect with His creation, He’s shown His power over and over again through taking a situation, actually making it harder and then succeeding in it.
One of the many pictures I have of God is like He’s this philanthropist, constantly on the lookout for a hopeless situation that He can solve to show His power. He usually can’t find one hopeless enough, so He settles for a really tough one, and He shows up when people believe in Him enough to trust. At times, the presence of the proverbial “dirt road” in what He’s told me to do has been a signal that this just might be exactly the place that He’ll show up. In September, we started Bay West, and as I find out so many times with God figuratively and in this case literally, the “dirt road” wasn’t that big of a deal.
Last month, Bay West celebrated 5 years and we’re growing and going strong still. We meet at 100 Emerson Drive NW, renting space from The Mission Church, so we aren’t meeting down a dirt road anymore. Still, God is still proving his power in conquering newer handicaps, but the message in one of our first handicaps at Bay West has never been forgotten.