As I spent time reflecting this past week I thought of how many of life’s largest decisions were made while I was quite young. That is not to indicate that every decision I made while I was young was wise, prudent or appropriate. Like you, I have decisions in my past that if I could go back I would do them over.
There were many decisions made over the years that were good choices looking from the vantage point of a few years removed. Yet the viewpoint of today I can see there were decisions made when I was young that I had no clue nor could have imagined the places following Jesus would take me. Allow me to comfort and encourage anyone younger reading this, the best thing you can do is to be flexible with your plans and pliable in His hands. He does all things well!
Let me recap some of those decisions:
- I decided to follow Jesus Christ. This decision was made while I was quite young, 49 years ago this month. I would love to testify that over those 49 years I have followed God’s will for my life perfectly, and have only made wise and proper decisions. Unfortunately, I’ve made foolish decisions and have had to recommit myself to the Lord on a few occasions.
- I decided to attend Olivet Nazarene University. I went to college as a history/education major. Early in my Olivet experienced I sensed a call to Christian service and that changed my major and everything else in my life. Answering the call was a wise decision that still impacts my life to this very moment.
- I decided to attend Nazarene Theological Seminary. This was likewise a wonderful decision. I had the privilege of sitting under some of the greatest teachers our denomination has ever produced: Ralph Earle, Willard Taylor, Mendel Taylor, Mildred Wynkoop, J Kenneth Grider, Harvey Finley, and Oscar Reed to name a few. These individuals shaped me biblically and theologically and I will forever be in their debt.
- I asked Susanne K. White to marry me. Next, to accepting Christ this was the most brilliant decision that I ever made. And I love her more deeply today than I did during the years of dating and engagement and early married days.
- I pastored six wonderful churches. Which was my favorite? That is like asking which is your favorite child and what is your favorite flavor of ice cream? The answer all of them!
- I took a position at the global ministry center in Kansas City. Spending some time with Dr. Bill Sullivan was like receiving two master degrees in leadership. I met so many wonderful people during those days and made many friends that I treasure still.
- I was elected district superintendent six years ago. I have the honor to advocate for pastors and congregations. I have the opportunity to cast vision and encourage and be encouraged by some of the finest folks in the world.
Lest you think that each of these decisions came easily, they were bathed in prayer and accepted with some fear and trepidation as we trusted God and knew He always makes a way.
The foundation has been faith in Jesus Christ and seeking to serve Him, honor and follow Him. Following God’s will is not something static, there are changes and new direction all along the way.
When I went to college I had a plan: I was going to be a teacher, and in my mind someday a principal of a school and then hopefully someday a superintendent of schools. I had it all mapped out, I had big plans. As I’ve heard on many occasions if you want to hear God laugh just tell Him your plans. For some who follow Christ, they live and work in the same place their entire life and that is God’s plan. Others are more mobile and have moved often. Regardless of which track your life has taken, all of us can look back and see that there were times when God changed our plans and today we are better because He has led us and we have followed. Plans have been changed but God remains the same.