Back-up Plans

There's a prayer I've written down in my prayer journal that I try to pray with some regularity. I don't remember if its inspiration came directly from His Spirit, or through another person, and I pray it for myself, as well as all those He placed on my heart to intercede for. It goes, "Father, may we worship You with no 'back-up plan.' May we risk all to believe Your Word." I expect that's as good as any definition of what it is to trust Him. The problem is, most of us do indeed have "back-up plans." We're willing to obey and follow Him, but in the corner, out of sight, we've stored our own back-up plan. Some might call it an escape clause.

More than 25 years ago, He opened a door for me to come here to Northern Virginia. Believe me when I say, I never, at any time, thought I would still be here all these years later. I knew that He was leading me here, and I obeyed Him in coming. I may have known where I was going, but everything else was completely unknown. I stepped out in trust, but mixed in with that trust was my own personal back-up plan. 


I had been serving as a part-time associate pastor in New Jersey. I was thankful for that ministry, because at that time, there was little call for a single pastor, and a divorced one at that. I yearned to return to full-time ministry as a lead pastor. When He opened this door, I knew it was His leading, and was sure of His presence in it. I was determined to give all of myself to the work, and I hope that the witness for that is that I did. Yet lurking in the background was my secondary plan. My thinking was that I would give this work 5 years. In that time I believed that He would give me success and I could use the success as a means of moving on to another work. A greater work. Greater as defined by me. 


Those early years were filled with fruit. We were new and people seemed to like new. But the victory train got derailed. All of a sudden, a goodly segment of the fellowship had jobs that took them away from the area. Some decided that other fellowships offered more than we off they went to them. All of a sudden, my plan was collapsing. The Father is very skilled at upsetting those. He surely upset mine. More, in the midst of the pain and heartache that was involved in all of this, I knew that He was not giving me an open door to leave. And any attempt on my part to force it open met with decidedly unpleasant results. So here I was, my back-up plan had failed, and so did any other plan I tried to come up with. And so began my education of what it is to worship Him with no plan of my own, and the only word from Him in the midst of it was to trust Him. Trust Him, obey Him, and in all of it, to worship Him. Even in this disagreeable place. The place that was painful. The place I would never have chosen to be. The place where He had sent me, and the place where He would have me. His place for me. And it has remained His place for me. For 25 years plus now. It has not been all that I had envisioned, but in it, He has been more than I could ever hope for.

I'm still learning that worship is a way of life that permeates every aspect of our lives. It's trust. It's obedience. It's finding joy and contentment in Him, even when outward "perks" are missing. I'm also learning that His "plan" goes far beyond this present realm. It stretches into eternity. I'm still learning that continually "going out" while staying put is far more about what He is doing in the invisible realm than what we are so focused on in our results oriented thinking. I also continue to learn what it is to worship and trust Him even when I have no understanding, or He remains silent as to what and where He is leading me. The words to the old hymn become more true all the time. "Trust and obey, for there's no other way." And in that way, there is no room for a back-up plan.

So what might be your back-up plan? Whatever it is, believe me, it will hinder your walk, your faith, and above all, your worship. He would have us, you, follow, and with no plan of our own whatsoever. And His only guarantee in all of it is that He goes with us, and is in us. And He asks us, "Is that enough?" Is it enough for you....for me?

Pastor O



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   May 2019   
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