Posted by: jennyo | October 16, 2007

going with the flow

I have been meeting regularly with a new friend who is older and wiser that I am, and Monday morning we spent some time talking about how “God is in the interruptions”. We have our plans, of course God is honored when we make them well and steward our gifts, but we are ultimately not in charge. The interruptions, especially in a ministry context, are a real challenge to help us evaluate what it is we think we are doing. If my plans aren’t executed fully and meticulously, is God hindered? If my commitment wavers, my creativity slows, my enthusiasm goes through moments of stumbling (or someone else’s does), does God’s kingdom stagnate? When I have decided to equate his kingdom with my plans, the answer would seem to be yes. Unfortunately for my sensitive ego, this is not the reality that the Bible points us to.

I was reading today about the beginning of Paul’s ministry. During Paul’s conversion, God asks him “how long will you kick against the goads?” I’m not even sure what goads are as technically defined, but Jerram Barrs asks- what were these things that were pointing to Christ in Paul’s life? One suggestion that he has is Paul’s observation of Stephen, stoned to death at Paul’s approval, going through that ordeal praising God. This made me think about how narrowly we understand our roles in the story of redemption. Personally I wouldn’t have been thrilled that my part to play was a joyful execution, but the result of Stephen’s playing that role faithfully was the conversion of the apostle who would take the kingdom beyond the Jewish race and write half of our New Testament scriptures.

Needless to say, no sooner had I thought and been talking about these things when I got the chance for a little application. Tonight due to circumstances we had to adjust our plans for our large group meeting because Joey couldn’t be there and we couldn’t do music. As a result, we put the chairs in a circle and just talked for a while, did announcements and prayed together, and after a total of about thirty minutes, adjourned. Short meeting, no ‘good’ doctrine, no amazing worship pulled off without a hitch. But I sat there thinking about how we had an unusual opportunity- the students sitting in a circle together as one large group, facing each other, contributing their part to the dynamic. Different individuals made announcements about what they are in charge of and heard each other pray. It really wasn’t a big deal but it was real and organic.

It just goes to show that as much as our planning and stewardship are important, we’ll never know exactly what God is going to do. “Many are the plans of a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails”. If only we could really value the uncontrollable plan changes as where the action is, flexibility would come quickly. The challenge is not simply “am I flexible?”, but “do I really believe that God is at work?” . If we are looking for his work, we just might find it in the interruptions.

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Responses

  1. I happened across the UConn-USF football game the other day and thought of you. It’s been a while. Hope you are doing well down there in southern New England.

    Kevin

    PS – you should go to Westminster.


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