New Hope Calgary - John Van Sloten -former pastor

John Van Sloten -former pastor backto profiles

Activities @ New Hope Calgary This past Sunday (March 26). it was announced that I would no longer be senior pastor at New Hope Hillside Church. Tough decision. But definitely the right one. For years I’ve been struggling with the call to write, teach and speak more… to get the two-book vision out there more. Early last week it became clear that this decision needed to happen now (or never… I’m turning 56 this year!). And so Sunday was now.

As you can imagine, I had a bit of anxiety heading to church that day; an anxiety that was met with three small providential words from God.

The first was an internal whisper that said, “Get over yourself”. It wasn’t a belittling or pejorative word… it was more of a ‘Hey, quit worrying about yourself so much… get over it… life is too short… and you’ve got stuff to do… and this is my church… and my calling for your life… and I’ve got you… so get on with it’ kind of realization. My immediate response was, “You’re right!”. It felt like a weight was lifted.

The second word was spoken right after I got into my car. Stopping at the intersection forty feet from my house, an older woman crossed the street in front of me. “That’s Colleen!” I said to myself (Colleen is the flyer delivery lady whose story opens chapter one of my book on work). I couldn’t believe it was her. It felt like God was pointing me back to my writing, and saying, “Your doing the right thing!” Talking with Colleen she told me about the stress that she’s facing this week… moving to a seniors home… “so much change and uncertainly”… she talked about her anxiety in leaving all her neighbors and friends. Listening to her speak I couldn’t help but smile.

God’s third word was spoken as I crossed the Bow river on the Crowchild Trail bridge. I know this may sound a bit hokey… but to me it was perfect. As I crossed the bridge, a holy trinity of Canadian geese flew right over my head. Twenty three years ago, when I was in my second year at seminary, and in a deep depression in response to Edward’s birth, and struggling with a new calling into the ministry, there was a moment where the clouds parted and my soul was lifted up. I was walking in the woods and three Canadian geese flew over my head, so confident of where they were headed. I asked myself, “How do they know where they are going?” And in the questioning I knew that God knew… and then I knew that he knew the same for me. And in that moment the depression began to lift and I knew where I had to go and who I needed to be.

Those three things all happened within a hour Sunday morning…. and God quieted my soul through them… and my sermon on forgiveness felt powerful and true… and the announcement felt peaceful and good. And now all is good.

Last night I layed awake for an hour praying, “So what’s next… where do you want me to go… I’ll do anything.”

Pastor John Van Sloten

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