Saturday, March 22, 2014
PLANS ARE NOT FUTILE EVEN WHEN THEY DON’T WORK OUT
This morning while I was reading in a Missions update magazine, I was struck with two delightful thoughts on the same subject – Planning.
The first part of the magazine starts with missionary testimonies and I love reading that part. These are little snippets of life on the field, but they also include the introductory capsule of how they met, how they schooled and how they were set in motion toward the field in which they are now serving. I was delighted to read that two of them in particular wrote of having plans that God changed.
One was a simple, one day affair where two women planned a day of refreshment, going up to town and having some lunch and fellowship together. The writer described the trip as a climb up the mountain over bumpy roads in an old klunker. They arrived in good shape, but as they started toward the eatery, a man approached them with what turned out to be a very serious need.
At first they thought it was a scam, but they realized that this man was very serious and in serious need of help with his diabetes. They were then able to take him to the hospital (rather than just give him money for the insulin) and he was soon stabilized there. Then, when they parted ways, they gave him what they had in money so that he could buy more insulin and food because he was a long way from home and a long way from his destination. He would not make it without those two things. (He had been robbed.)
The writer ends with this:
Each and every day I’ve got my to-do list ready, but sometimes the Lord has something else in mind. Those changes turn out to be the biggest blessings.
What I came away with is that we should plan, yes, but we should also be prepared for God to have something else in mind. If those women did not plan to go for lunch and a time of refreshment together, they would not have been there for that man in his time of need.
It was definitely the right thing to do to plan going to lunch. The fact that they didn’t get to lunch was of no matter. They needed to be in that particular parking lot at that particular time for God to use them to help this man.
How often do we get annoyed for the rest of the day because our plans for the day go skewed somewhere along the way? How often do we bemoan a change of our chosen direction and purpose which seem to be stolen from us by someone or something else? Good questions? I think so.
But - What about an even bigger change of plans? What about planning for a lifetime to reach a certain goal of service or career and being sideswiped or even suddenly inspired to change it all?
We see that happening day after day after day all around us.
But what if we feel called to do a very specific service for God, marry someone who sees the same plan, and train together for several years to get to that position? What if we get there and the plan takes a sharp turn left or right? Can we handle that?
One missionary family I know had a severe turning when they got to the mission field. Now they are seeking to find what is next, after a year of healing from the physical, mental, and spiritual pains of that change. They are still looking to serve God in the field somewhere. They are just not sure yet where or with which Board. But they are ready to find the path again.
In this magazine, there was another story of change:
These missionaries met in school and both felt led to be in aviation ministries. They schooled and trained for that mission work. But during their first term, they saw a greater need for their services and they willingly changed their direction to building a camp ministry where they had been serving.
Their second term, they took that on full time and have prospered in it as a full campsite has been built; and they started and built a new church in the area, which then they expanded into outlying areas with two church plants.
This was not their vision. This was God’s vision! Had they not planned to be in aviation ministry in this place, they would never have seen the need for a camp and a church, plus church planting ministry. They did not in any way choose the wrong ministry. God led them all the way into what happened. He knows each and every purpose for the path He leads us on.
So they closed with this advice:
Go into missions (or any service) with longevity in mind…. Stay as long as the Lord allows, but start with a ‘growing old on the field’ attitude.
This was a delightful experience for me, as I read these testimonies. I just wanted to share these two with you, plus two more ending thoughts:
LET GOD LEAD YOU.
And - While leadership styles differ… God has uniquely prepared us all.
May we all confront our fear of letting God have control of our days; and may we all free up our hearts and minds to accept whatever comes our way, with gratitude to God for His Great Love! In Jesus Name, Amen.