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Following God’s Plan

”Immediately He made His disciples get into the boat and go before Him to the other side, to Bethsaida, while He sent the multitude away. And when He had sent them away, He departed to the mountain to pray.” Mark 6:45-46

Jesus has just fed a multitude with a sack lunch. Understandably, this made the people excited. So much so that the apostle John reports that everyone, including the disciples, wanted to force Jesus to become king. Jesus, realizing what was about to happen, cut the proceedings short by suddenly commanding the disciples to get in their boat and start back across the lake while Jesus sent the crowd away.

I wonder if Jesus has ever had to send me away because I was too excited by my own plans for his work to take the time to listen to his plans for his work? I think he may have.

I began my pastoral ministry in 1996 in the New York Conference. It was in many ways hard at first. We were far from our home state of Michigan an there were many adjustments that had to be made. But after ten years of ministry all that was behind us. We were in a district we loved. I was partnered with a pastor and working for an administration that both challenged and supported me. I would have been willing to work there forever. No district in a different conference could have tempted me away.

But then I became aware of an opportunity to work with the person that had been my best friend for my entire life. My twin brother, Jere. I could talk about the job but that really wouldn’t be telling you why I chose to leave the place of the work I loved. I was leaving to be with my best friend.

Well, the new work didn’t work out. Less than a year after we’d moved half way across North America we were moving again. But there were no positions in New York. Praise God, he had provided a place in New England.

It’s been 11 years now since we decided to leave New York and I’ve come to see that it was God’s plan for us to not remain there with the people we loved, doing the worked we were loving. But we were so focused on fulfilling our plans we weren’t listening to his; so he send us away by the only means that would get our attention. My closest friend and brother.

I’m not sure we’re where we would have been if we’d been listening better way back then. But I do know that I’m trying to listen more closely to God’s plans and not focus so much on mine.

5 thoughts on “Following God’s Plan”

  1. This is such a difficult topic to consider!

    When I look back in my life, I see what I think are many, many mistakes in choices for places to live and for jobs. In the summer of 1987, I lost an almost perfect live-in job, in one of the most beautiful places in the country, that was with a loving, caring family, where my son and I were both accepted. When I went to camp meeting, I interviewed with a family on Cape Cod who wanted me to work with their family as a live-in care giver. However, I was so devastated at loosing my previous job, which gave me a family I never had, I couldn’t bear the idea of moving away again. I said no to the Cape Cod job and then the next two live-in jobs were horrible! So if I had taken the Cape Cod job who knows what would have happened!!! Or if I had not taken, or if I had left the next one or two bad jobs, what might have happened?

    1. We all have regrets over choices we’ve made. It’s so easy to think, “What if…”. But we can’t go back so it’s better to seek forgiveness, forgive ourselves and others and trust that God will “work all things together for good.” It’s not always easy to do but we need to let go of the pain of the past so God can give us the healing he wants to give us today.

      1. Dear Pastor,

        Thank you for your reply.

        I’ve been thinking on this since you wrote the reply and still have trouble forgiving myself. I think I could have done better at many junctions in life. Perhaps the apostle Peter couldn’t forgive himself for denying His Lord because he felt he could have done better too. It’s really hard to let go of the pain of the past when the past is part of the present. I do so much want the healing God wants for me, yet it seems elusive.

        1. In stead o of tring to take hold of enough grace so that regrets will never return why don’t you just take it one day at a time. Don’t worry about tomorrow. Let Jesus give you the grace and forgivenesss necessary for today’s worries and regrets. You can do the same tomorrow. Doctors can’t give treatment needed tomorrow today. Athletes can’t train more today so they can skip tomorrow. But all the training and all the treatments will, day by day, lead to greater healing and strength.

  2. Thank you Pastor.

    I have printed our your advice to use as a book marker.
    As I am praying about this, some scriptures came to mind,
    Jere 31:3, God loves me-that is more important than anyone else loving me.
    Psalms 32 and 103:11, 12; Micah 7:19 Forgiveness is one of the first topics and the first verses I studied when I became a Christian and at the time I believed it and still do and I will spend some more time with these verses.

    Thank you very much for replying!!

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