I went to a pastors’ retreat last weekend. Part of what we did was construct a sort of timeline of the significant events in our lives.
It can be interesting to do that. There was nothing startling that came from it, but it was kind of neat to look back at a lot of the significant things that had happened to me. A lot of them are things I was worried about at the time. Now, though, looking back at it, I can see that not only did they work out for the best, but God was acting in those situations, even though I didn’t realize it at the time.
After we did that, though, we moved on to something else that left me a little perplexed. The question basically was, “Now that you’ve seen how God worked in your life in the past, where do you think God will lead you in the future?”
I had no idea what to do with that question. See, I’ve had times in my life where I tried to figure out what God wanted me to do and where God wanted me to go. When I constructed that timeline, I realized, not for the first time, that every time I’ve tried to do that, not only did I get it wrong, I got it loud wrong. Each time, God has taken me in a totally different direction from the one I thought I was going in.
At one time, I had thought I might be a part of a big law firm in a larger city. Instead, I went to work for the state in Pierre. When I started thinking about moving on from there, I thought I would get a job that would enable us to continue living in Pierre. Instead, moved to Wessington Springs. Then, I thought I’d probably be a small-town lawyer in Wessington Springs the rest of my life. Instead, I became a pastor and moved first to the ARK and now to the Wheatland Parish. In each of those cases, God had something else in mind for me, and took me a direction I never would have guessed. In each of those cases, though, the direction God took me was much better than the direction I had thought I’d go.
I think what God has been trying to tell me through all this is that figuring out my future is not my problem. It’s God’s problem, and I should let God handle it. What God wants from me is for me to do the best I can in the situation in which God has placed me. When it’s time for me to do something else or to go somewhere else, God will let me know about that, and God will show me the something else I’m supposed to do or the somewhere else I’m supposed to go.
None of this is meant as a criticism of anyone else. There are people who set a goal for the next five years, the next ten years, or the next twenty years, and aim their lives toward that goal. If that works for you, fine. I’m not criticizing you. In fact, I kind of envy you. All I’m telling you is that it doesn’t work for me. When I try to do that, not only do I move toward the goals I’ve set, it feels like God deliberately moves me away from those goals.
I don’t know when or even if God will show me something else to do or somewhere else to go. I’m in no hurry for God to do that. I’m quite happy doing what I’m doing and doing it where I’m doing it. I need to be aware, though, that God could show that to me at any time. I need to be open to following God’s leading, no matter where that leading may take me.
Until God does that, though, I’m going to keep doing what I’m doing, and I’m going to do it the best that I can. That may not be much of an answer to the question I was asked, but it’s an answer I’m comfortable with. It’s an answer I think God’s comfortable with, too.