The Least, First

Monte Asbury's blog

God’s plans not our plans!

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As if it were news.

Georgann H., administrative assistant at the church I pastor, and a trusted colleague in Christ, was recently laid off.  The number of people who attend worship gatherings has diminished, and the money just wasn't there.

The fruit God has given her on staff here is simply enormous.  Losing her staff position is a big loss to all of us.  And yet … the sense does remain that God is up to something none of us have seen yet.  It doesn't feel like losing.

Georgann is a gifted writer, and she shared these words last Sunday to describe how God is active in the upset:

Dear New Oaks,
    I want to say “Thank you!” for the opportunity to have been your employee. It has been an amazing journey. I have learned SO MUCH!!
    When I first began, Monte and your church board wanted to make this the “perfect” place to work, and I always felt like it was; certainly the best place I’ve ever worked! One of the very best parts, from the beginning, was that they encouraged me to dedicate part of my day to spending time alone with God, and so I did. I must admit, with the challenges (as well as the blessings) this job brought, I needed to have that time!
    I want to say “thank you” to our church board and to Monte for caring for me so well in these years. When there was money, I received raises and gifts. When money was short, I received time off. You were generous with me always, in every way. Whatever support I needed, I received. Whatever I asked for, you did your best to supply. Often, you supplied for me out of your generous spirits, when I had not thought to ask. Reflective of God in you, for sure! New Oaks, I hope you understand what godly people you have serving you as board members and pastor! I have been richly blessed by my time here.
    Many of you have asked how I am doing. Well, praise be to God, I am doing well. Oh, I have my moments. I am disappointed and so very sad that things did not work out like we had expected.  I expected to retire from this job I loved so much. But I am also filled with hope. God has other plans. They are still and always “plans for good and not for evil, to give me a future and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11)
    About 10 years ago, God started me on a journey to learn not to worry. Then a couple of years ago, He invited to come in deeper, and learn to trust. See, He knows what is coming and has been preparing me. I am amazed at how far He’s brought me to this point, that I can accept this change without fear and worry. It is still a temptation, but I am not falling often, and when I do, I get back up quickly.
    Recently, as the deadline has loomed, He has asked me to memorize some Scripture verses to help me in my trust journey. First was this, Proverbs 16:3, Amplified: Roll your works upon the Lord. Trust and commit them wholly to Him. He will make your thoughts agreeable to His will, and so shall your plans be established and succeed. He has used this to challenge me to give my future Him to do with as He sees fit. I had some ideas of my own of what I thought it should look like. He asked me to give that all over to Him. “Trust Me,” He said. “Let Me be the planner.” And so I gave up the plans that I had, what I thought was the desire of my heart, and determined to wait on Him.
    Second was this: I will bless the Lord who guides me, even at night my heart will instruct me. I know He is always with me. I will not be shaken, for He is right beside me. No wonder my heart is filled with joy and my mouth shouts His praises! (Psalm 16:7-9, NLT, emphasis mine) “See,” he said, “You do not need to worry about any of this. Not even at night. Trust me. See how close I am. I will guide you.”
    Third, and most recent is: Show me the path where I should walk, O Lord; point out the right road for me to follow. Lead me by Your truth and teach me, for You are the God who saves me. All day long I put my hope in you. (Psalm 25:4-5 NLT) Again, it’s about trust. Plus, in the New Testament, I am currently working my way through 1 Peter. Peter speaks much about suffering for doing right and suffering if it is God’s will. I don’t consider this suffering, but it does speak to me about this truth: I may be doing my best to walk the path which He has showed me, to follow the right road He has pointed out, and sometimes, that path leads to suffering. The truth is, I can be going exactly where He’s asked me to go and end up in the valley of the shadow of death. In addition to teaching me to trust Him, no matter what, He is also teaching me to trust myself, that I know I can hear Him even though, or maybe especially when, things don’t work out as I thought they would, should, or ought to. I do not have to doubt Him or myself.
    And do you know what? New Oaks, the same is true for us: this church, this body of believers. I know these people who lead us. We have not been led astray. Our leaders have been following the path for us as a church the best they have understood it, and it has led us to here and now. Certainly not what we expected or hoped for, but with all my heart, I believe that Jesus has led us and is leading us even now. It’s going to be OK. Things will work out just as they should. “So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good.” (1 Peter 4:19 NIV)
    So, I am waiting. Really, I am good. I love what The Message says in Romans 8:15. “This resurrection life you received from God is not a timid, grave-tending life. It’s adventurously expectant, greeting God with a childlike, ‘What’s next, Papa?’” That’s what I feel. God will show me the way. God will show us the way. He is good. We can trust Him completely, whole-heartedly, unreservedly. Thanks for loving me.

 Once again, what's happening isn't in the way, it is the way.  In all things he works.

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Written by Monte

May 24, 2006 at 8:06 pm

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