When you are in a loving relationship with someone that is built upon real trust, it frees you to take risks.
Some Christians are so tied-in-knots over trying to figure out God’s will that they miss the BIG picture. God has called us into fellowship with Himself through Jesus Christ (see 1 Cor 1:9). This morning I was reminded of some amazing things that happened several years ago…while I was involved in ministry that I later realized was NOT God’s will. I was working alongside a church leader who was overseeing a number of village ministries in an Asian context.
The exact setting was a trip where I accompanied this Asian leader and ministered in a number of village churches under his oversight. One night while having dinner with a young pastor in one of these remote villages, I was hearing the young man’s discouraged testimony of little fruit and of the questions he was having regarding leaving the village for some other area. He was at a low place in life and ministry. I felt honored that he was willing to share his deep struggles with me and the leader I was accompanying.
Then the conversation turned to my life. I shared a bit about how I had planted a church that I was now pastoring and how I had initially done this as a single, unmarried man. I then recounted the story of how I met and married Molly, several years into the church plant.
The young pastor remarked, “I once attended the wedding of a pastor in Texas. It was during my two-year term at a Bible school in Dallas.” Later that evening, after more talk, the young pastor suddenly said, “It was your wedding I attended. I am sure of it.” I then asked him a few questions and then I remembered how one of our church members also attended the same Bible school as this man. And how our member had called and asked permission to bring several international students to our wedding. We were delighted to allow the international Bible college students to come. This young pastor had been one of those international guests at my wedding!
It was really a powerful moment when we realized what God had done in our lives. About five years earlier, God had arranged that this young pastor would attend my wedding in rural West Texas. Then totally unrelated to that, God had directed my steps to a remote mountain village at least 10,000 miles away from my home to see this young pastor…again. Out of six billion people in the world, and with such a huge distance between us, God had brought us together on two different occasions! The odds of this happening by chance alone are basically impossible.
What happened as a result of this providential meeting? Both of us were incredibly encouraged to stay on track with where God had planted us! The going sometimes is tough, but as long as we are loving and seeking God, we cannot really miss His best! A year or so later I heard from this village pastor again. He had stayed put in that village and was now seeing several people responding to the gospel. The church was beginning to grow and become self-supporting!
That was the only time I visited that particular Himalayan area. It was obvious after spending time with the main leader who had hosted me, that we did not have the same vision for ministry. It was not a connection that God was making. But in the midst of this miscalculation, was this amazing experience of God’s providence.
My take away? When I’m sincerely doing my best to walk with God and stay on mission with Him, even my missteps are turned into providential experiences! This is how amazing our God is.
This takes the weight off of our shoulders.