I was having coffee the other day with a pastor in Holstein, a small community in rural northwest Iowa. Stephanie and I had plans to take the family to visit churches in Sioux City that day, and since it is a considerable distance from home we had stayed overnight with some cousins of mine. They had contacted their pastor, told him we would be in town, and asked if he would be willing to meet with us. He agreed, so we met at the local coffee shop/pharmacy.
An hour and 16 ounces of mocha into our conversation we were still finding things to discuss. Maybe it was the fact that he was younger than most pastors I generally meet with. He was probably in his early thirties at most, and identified well with my own stories of starting a family and ministry young. Maybe it was that his ministry was new. He’d taken the position of pastor for a church plant after being in youth ministry just six months ago. Maybe it was his own heart for missions from his work with orphans in India. I can’t tell you what it was exactly, but it was probably the best appointment I’ve had with a pastor all deputation.
What I can tell you is that this meeting was completely unexpected, unplanned, and had nothing to do with my efforts. It has been a continuing theme during this deputation process; things we plan, don’t go according to plan. We know our destination, plan our route, and hit the metaphorical road. Then God throws in some unplanned stops along the way. It’s like when you’re driving somewhere and, because your GPS obviously knows the way better than you, it starts announcing, “Recalculating.” Except I imagine God’s voice probably sounds less like that of a computer synthesized soft-spoken lady, and more like that of James Earl Jones. Anyway, I digress…
The point I’m making is that as we search for the ministry partners God has chosen for our team we have to continue to make plans and do work, but He is ultimately in control and has His own ways of doing things. In other words, we have to start down the road, but be willing to let God show us the roadside diversions where he wants us to stop. Isaiah 55:8-9