GPS is great invention, especially for someone like me who is directionally challenged. Most of the time I can get to new places without getting lost. When going somewhere new I used to allow an extra hour just for getting lost. My favorite feature of GPS is the list format that details every step of my trip in advance. I like knowing what to expect and what is coming up.
Of course then there are times when GPS doesn’t work so well. My GPS seems to have a knack for finding the most inopportune times to stop working. We had one those “adventures” on a recent road trip. We were trying to bypass traffic on the major highway and save sometime. The map feature was sort of working so we had a general idea where to go. We knew the town we were headed to so we were able to follow the road signs to that town. We were able to get there by following the signs. We just didn’t have all the details in advance.
As we were driving, I realized that following God s more like “old-school navigation” than GPS. When he calls us to follow him, he doesn’t necessarily map everything out. He gives us direction for each step and sometimes a little more. He does provide navigational tools (Bible, prayer, church) but I have to choose to use them. So many times I just want to get from point A to point B without taking time to learn something or even enjoy the journey.
11 For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Jeremiah 29:11 ESV
Sometimes By Step by Rich Mullins
My life is certainly different now than the way I imaged the future ten years ago. I never anticipated a cross-country move or the path my career has taken.
I never expected that the Big Guy’s education would move us across the country to Florida. I knew we might move for his education but ten years ago he was looking at schools much closer to home. Also, when we moved to Florida our stay was to be four or five years. It will be eight years next month.
Ten years ago I had returned to teaching computers in a private school after completing my master’s degree. I enjoyed teaching in that setting. After we moved I taught in a private school here for a couple of years but it just wasn’t a good fit. Then I had a job that seemed like my dream job, unfortunately due to the economic down turn I lost that job. Today I work with high school drop-outs in an adult education program. I really enjoy teaching adult education.
Things are certainly different from the way I planned or pictured my life ten years ago. There have been a lot of bumps in the road and some things I would like to change. One thing I have learned that unexpected turns, bumps in life’s path often bring people in my life that are a blessing to me.
We moved into a new house at the first of May. I quickly had most of the house unpacked except one room. The room is supposed to be a guest room/office but became the dumping place for all boxes. I felt defeated every time I walked in the room and saw the mess.
I wasn’t supposed to happen that way with this move. This time I made plans and was organized with the packing. I had the boxes labeled and numbered. Instructions were given to those helping where things were to go. Somewhere along the way my plans fell apart. Instructions were ignored and things were dumped in that room. Eventually it became so full of junk that even the door wouldn’t close.
Life can be like that room sometimes. Despite plans and good intentions sometimes things get derailed. Just like “that room” it can be discouraging when I mess up once again or life gets out of control. Yet, there is hope, if I am willing to turn to God rather than try to fix it myself.
being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. Philipians 1:6 (NIV)
The church’s mission is to reach others for Christ and to help them become mature followers of Christ. When our plans or priorities conflict with that mission we must change. The mission statement Christ issued for his followers is actually quite simple, “Go and Make Disciples“. Somehow along the way it is easy for a body of believers to forget that mission.
Some get caught up in developing and carrying out a decades old great “master plan” that present day ministries must suffer to complete this plan. It is as if nothing is more important than following the plan. Unplanned opportunities to reach others for Christ are ignored in strict adherence to this great plan. What good is it to have a well-designed facility when there is no one to use the facilities?
Others get caught up in the functions of committees especially those that focus on the internal workings of the church that they lose sight of reaching others. Suddenly things like decorations and the appearance of the church become a higher priority than providing the necessary resources for outreach ministries. Keeping the church looking nice is good but what good is it when there is no one left to maintain the church?
For some adherence to traditions and maintaining the status quo becomes the primary focus. They become unwilling to move out of their comfort zone unaware that the unless the church is willing to adapt and change its method we will lose an entire generation. What good will our traditions do when no one is left to follow them?
I am reminded of something one of my seminary professors Dr. Roy Fish used to say. “The primary mission of the church is evangelism. Everything aspect and ministry of the church should be about evangelism, if it is not then we must change or jettison the things that are not.” What things must be changed or jettisoned from your church?
Recent events have caused me to be introspective and examine my life. Many things certainly have not gone according to my plans. Some have been pleasant surprises, while others have been disappointments. While I was pondering how life doesn’t always work out according to my plans I realized, that is the problem. I should be concerned about God’s plans not mine.
For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. Jeremiah 29:11 (NLT)
Even in times when it seems like everything is falling apart I can have assurance that God cares and wants the best for me.
And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. Philippians 1:6 (ESV)
And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. Romans 8:28 (NLT)
Looking back I can see some instances when my plans fell apart that God used that to put me in situations that have blessed me. At other times diversions from my plans have resulted in pleasant surprises.