Two years ago, on this very week, the Mercado’s packed up everything we owned, and moved across the country. Hillary and the kids flew to San Diego, and I drove our minivan across the country–with my precious vinyl record collection sitting on the passenger side (just to make sure they were really safe). Why did we do this? This was a complete 180 from where we were several years back. Hillary and I recall a conversation we had with Pastor Dale. One evening, Dale mentioned the idea of us going to Escondido to study at Westminster Seminary California. We smiled politely and said we’d think about it, but then had a good laugh about it after he left our home. There was no way we’d leave West Michigan. We loved our home, our church, and the friends we made!

How we went from brushing off studying in California to now living on-campus is a story for another time, but ultimately, the Lord was calling us. He made that known, and we had to respond. The Lord also provided for us. In fact, he has used you to do that. I remember a conversation with an OPC teaching elder where he told me that in God’s economy he provides for those whom he calls. I didn’t know what that really meant until we were in the thick of my seminary studies. Though our time in California has had its own bumps and bruises, we are encouraged and still believe the Lord is calling us as a family to serve the Church. The kindness of God has been made manifest in so many ways these last two years. We’ve come back to West Michigan, for a brief time, to be of service to the saints at Harvest.

In case you’re wondering what I’ve been up to thus far, it has not just consisted of sitting in my proverbial study (though it has certainly included that, especially this week!). To list a few things, I’ve had the immense privilege of being allowed into some of your homes on shepherding visits, of chatting with folks interested in becoming members at Harvest, and enjoying fellowship with some of our sick members. It has been a blessing to hear them testify to God’s faithfulness in the midst of affliction. This has impressed on my heart the reality that “every good and perfect gift comes from the Father of heavenly lights, with whom there is no variation of shadow due to change” (James 1:17). In seasons of encouragement, in seasons of disappointment, our God is good. He is faithful. I hope this reality gives you strength today, and hope for tomorrow.

Recommended Resources:

Richard Gaffin - The Usefulness of the Cross – Some folks have asked about my favorite classes and readings at WSCAL thus far. This article has been foundational for me, and so many others. I re-read this article last Fall, and it is tremendously helpful for the way it relates our suffering to the realities of the Gospel and our union with Christ. The writing is heavy, but it is well worth the time and reflection.

Jim Cassidy - The Westminster Shorter Catechism – If you’re like me, repetition does not come easy. I’ve been slowly working through memorizing the Shorter Catechism, and this series taught by OPC minister Jim Cassidy is simple, clear, and helpful for understanding the biblical foundation of the Shorter Catechism.

Holly Dutton - The Westminster Shorter Catechism Songs - Memorizing the Shorter Catechism can be easier (and fun for kids), when there are tunes to sing to!

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