Friday, April 4, 2008

Plans, Projections, and Providence

As most of you can tell, I have not been active here on my blog for a while. That mostly has to do with the energy expended preparing for Easter, but it also has to do with my own lack of focus. Since the middle of January, I have been dealing with the possibility of a move to another appointment in June. This past Monday, I was told my projected appointment.

This has been an unusual few months for me. For a while, I had plans to stay in this appointment until my oldest son and perhaps his younger brother finished high school. Of course, that was/is secondary to fulfilling my call here in this church, of equipping this congregation to make disciples in a growing community. I thought everything was going according to plan. When the PPRC began to fill out the advisory response form (the congregation's sense of whether I need to be reappointed here), I realized my perceptions of where we were in this mutual ministry did not reflect reality. Normally, I would have sensed that sooner; grief for my brother has thrown me for a loop in more ways than one.

I had to face the possibility that my plans for my ministry in this place might not happen in the way that I thought. Needless to say, that was not what I wanted for me or my family. For a couple of months I have dealt with this, trying to discern whether I wanted to fight it through and stay or yield to perhaps a greater wisdom. Within all of that is the fear that all United Methodist clergy have of what happens if we do move-- the next church, schools, community, spouse's career.

It took some time, but I found peace in not following my original plan; I remembered equipping people for ministry is my specific call to wherever I serve-- not just an India Hook specific plan. So for the past few weeks, I have been looking forward to March 31 to see what would be our next step as a family.

This week I am preaching Luke's Walk to Emmaus story. It is an Easter evening story of Christ's hidden presence with two of his followers in the chaotic and anxious days following the death of our Lord. I have taken some comfort in this story over the past couple of weeks; for there are times when life does not go according to our plans and dreams--- when we feel abandoned, unsure and uncertain about the lifepath ahead of us. There are times when we are certain we walk alone, for we do not perceive the presence of Christ.

Yet, even in our clouded or mistaken perceptions, as churches and as pastors and as families, Christ walks with us. The days ahead of adjustment to leaving behind our plans, friends, and our familiar ways will not be easy. But we do not go alone. We go into a new future--a new way of being-- with our Lord who walks with us in unseen, but not unfelt ways.



Stephen Taylor said...

Your thoughts are some that a lot of ministers can identify with - well stated. And you are right, you will equipt God's people for discipleship whereever you are placed. I pray the transition will go well for your boys as indeed for you and Kathy.

roadtripray said...

God bless you and your ministry in your new appointment -- wherever God leads you. Just remember the world is your parish!


Anonymous said...

Joseph , we are so blessed to have you in our lives.You, Kathy and the boys have been a blessing to our Church .God will lead you now.He cares so much and so do we,Kathy and Jimmy