Jason & Krista Tatlock
“Glory to God in the highest” (Luke 2:14).
These last months have been amazing, and the previous months remarkable–not easy, but remarkable. By the grace and mercy of God, we have overcome. Being able to write this story is a testament to the goodness, faithfulness, compassion, and love of the Lord-Yahweh, my God, who is my Abba, Savior (Jesus Christ), and Comforter (Holy Spirit). I am getting a bit ahead of myself by talking about more recent times. Let me tell you some of the story leading to 2021.
I have been a follower of Jesus Christ for about as long as I can remember, making a personal confession of faith as a child. This is thanks, in key part, to the blessing of being born to Godly parents. I am grateful for them. I was born into God’s kingdom in my youth, and had a longing for overseas missional work. I once told some missionary recruiters that I wanted a hard assignment. Little did I know about the difficult path that we would face in 2020. “We” refers to my Godly, faithful, and devoted wife, Krista, and my God-loving and growing into Mighty Men of God sons, Alexander and Gabriel. The year 2020 was actually the second time that our marriage was tried significantly.
When Krista and I met in Bible college, I still had a desire for serving God in overseas missions and we moved in that direction with an eye towards the Middle East. While in school, I gained a love for the ancient world and began to recognize a God-given gifting for teaching (especially after delivering a sermon that, from a human standpoint, fell flat; by contrast, teaching Sunday School before the sermon that morning was a good fit). We eventually moved to the Middle East to pursue graduate studies in the history of ancient Israel and surrounding areas. During those days, my vocational aspirations grew to a desire to be a professor on a secular university campus. After being blessed with graduate degrees, that goal became a reality. Yet, along the way, my faith was shaken through my academic studies. Things were so bad that I could barely sing the words of praise songs at church, which makes a poignant contrast to the life I now live. Praise, worship, and fellowship with the Lord have become a passion; a necessity. Daily spending time with the Lord with music and the Word is like oxygen, and it is transformative.
My previous relationship with God had laid a foundation that helped keep me moving forward in faith; coupled with that was the devotion of my wife, who stayed strong in the Lord. By the time we were led to Savannah, things were back on-track overall. The Lord maneuvered circumstances to bring us to Armstrong Atlantic State University (now Georgia Southern University) in 2007, even after I declined the first round of interviews because I had another position lined up. Yet, God kept the door open because it was His will for us to come to Savannah. He has had great things in store for us here. Upon moving to the area, we immediately began attending what was called Savannah Christian Church at the time (now Compassion Christian Church). We prospered where the Lord planted us.
We joined the church and participated in a variety of service opportunities, including intercessory prayer and overseas missions. We even spent time on short-term trips to the Middle East. In 2019, God had us extend our Christian fellowship to include Kingdom Life Ministries, which occurred almost immediately after I had a powerful Holy Spirit experience, involving the release of the gift of tongues. Our friend, Milly, invited us to Leigh’s Tuesday morning class and I attended. Even then, I had a meaningful encounter with the Lord, which led to healing of TMJ, after digesting Leigh’s teaching about sickness. It was a confirmatory experience.
I doubt that I had heard much about modern Apostolic houses of faith, but I soon found myself closely connected to this loving, Spirit-led, Christ-honoring, and Father-oriented home that takes a deep dive into faith, God’s love, and awe-inspiring presence. I was recently reminded of a word spoken over Krista and I several years ago in Savannah, which said that we were to extend our tents. That word makes more sense now in our current context.
Regarding the year 2020, it was not truly significant for what some of you might think, although the global health issue did exasperate things. In February 2020, the healing process for familial deliverance from fear issues began. I had been taking medication off and on for decades to cope with anxiety issues stemming from generational bondage; but I only started the medicine after panic gripped me as a result of misplaced trust when studying to be a professor. My eyes were more focused on my future career, than upon the One who called me to a lifetime of fellowship with Him.
I have had to relearn trusting God. My faith has grown as I have seen the Lord work time and time again. I have renewed hope. His faithful love is one of my favorite characteristics, and I also experienced it tangibly through my household and my Kingdom Life family (Gene, Carey, and Leigh kept an eye on us and gave a great deal of support in 2020–thank God!). Krista was amazing. My boys persevered. God preserved and blessed.
It was as if my spiritual life in 2020 was stripped down to the basics. Things became very bleak and the spiritual warfare was extremely intense before the end of the Summer. As with the other times I attempted to be free from anxiety medicine, I was spiritually attacked.
“Then it happened,” as my friend likes to read in the Bible during Sunday morning services. A shift occurred through the laying on of hands on more than one occasion. The liberty of the Holy Spirit was released in me, and progress ensued. Piece by piece, I was given more and more peace from above.
In the Fall of 2020, there was talk of ordination and I was rather hesitant. I could see Krista getting ordained but I questioned whether or not it was for me. I did not feel well-suited for it at the time. I was pursuing God faithfully but was still very broken and essentially unable to minister much to people. Friends at Kingdom Life would say that I was in a death season for part of 2020; it seemed to last a very long time. Nevertheless, I received the Lord’s leading to pursue ordination, learning that I do not need to “have it all together” before being ordained. I still have areas where I need to “deny myself, take up my cross, and follow” Christ Jesus down the road of being a living sacrifice (Matthew 16:24; Romans 12:1). Yet, Christ has called me to minister as an ordained servant, even as I am seeking to “lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me” (Philippines 3:12).
Months before ordination, this last verse became my life verse in the wake of my new position as a Professor of Presence, a role that Abba released to me in March 2020. God’s work through Apostle Gene has been transformative, giving me a new perspective on my placement in the academic world. It connects with those God-given desires to have become a professor of the ancient world at a secular institution. His grace and mercy carried us through to 2021, where I am growing in my understanding of the manifested presence of God and seeing His goodness.
There is much more to the story, but here I am looking back on the other side of a very difficult, but highly blessed, 12+ months infused with the love and friendship of Kingdom Life people, and friends from Compassion Christian. It was also a time of strong loving support at home. Jesus said that “apart from Me, you can do nothing” (John 15:5), and I could not have done 2020 without Him, the Holy Spirit, and the Father. There was a particularly bleak moment where Christ Jesus reminded me that He was my Good Shepherd in such a way that bolstered me. Only He, the Father, and Holy Spirit know. They sustained me, and worked through the body to help me heal. It was the second major time in my life where nothing could pull me out of divine hands (John 10:28-29). The Father and Son hold me, and I am holding on, too.
Psalm 100:5 has often been on my heart and mind these past months: “For the Lord is good; His mercy (faithful love) is everlasting, And His truth endures to all generations.” I have come to learn that those are two of the characteristics of God acknowledged in association with His manifested presence (see 2 Chronicles 5:13; 7:3). Like with the ancient Israelites, we give voice to such divine attributes in words of testimony, including songs, and embody them through loving service to others.
I was ordained on New Year’s Eve 2020, bringing in the New Year with praise. That is a long way from the doubt-filled man of years passed, who could barely sing. God’s goodness is always there but sometimes we see it more magnificently and clearly, as I have in 2021. I love Him and I am grateful, saying: “But thanks be to God, who always leads us in His triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place” ( 2 Corinthians 2:14). I look forward to seeing His future manifestations.
I have had to relearn trusting God. My faith has grown as I have seen the Lord work time and time again. I have renewed hope.