“I believe that no matter how random things may appear, there’s still a plan.” “I love it when a plan comes together!” – Col. John ‘Hannibal’ Smith – the A Team
The A Team was absolutely my favorite show as a kid. I can remember sitting in the back of my dad’s yellow 1971 Volkswagen Beetle talking to him about it on the way home from school. It was hard not to love the electric mix of ridiculous plans, Mr. T’s tough guy persona, a great van, nonsensical plot lines and cheesy one liners. I could never get enough. (The recent movie was fun and in keeping with the TV show, but not legendary. I was pleased with it a true fan of the TV show). So why the A Team trip down memory lane today?
Well, there are moments when many seemingly unconnected pieces come together at the same instant to reveal a plan at work. There are beautiful moments when the hand of God at work is revealed in unexpected ways. Sometimes the dreams we have begin to reveal and reshape themselves in extraordinary ways and in these moments it is time to stop and with a cigar hanging out the side of our mouth say, ” I love it when a plans comes together.”
Pastors talk all the time about learning to wait for God’s timing, but that doesn’t mean we are any better at it than other people. We have the same moments of doubt and frustration. In one moment we will counsel a parishioner to wait for God’s answer to their pray patiently because God is obviously teaching them something as they wait, and in the next moment we stomp around like little children frustrated that our prayers didn’t get an immediate response. We are like teenagers who freak out that you didn’t respond to their text message in less than 30 seconds and begin to text over and over again to try and get your attention.
2012 was a year that had a lot of waiting. Going into the year there were a number of plans for the church that I believed we needed to execute to help us move forward. They involved the purchase of our building, helping people to get healthier, expanding our missional impact, higher capacity from our staffing, healings, marriages being transformed, more people getting involved in ministry, and having an actual sign to show people where we worship (the most audacious dream of them all). For the majority of the year none of those things happened. In fact, we seemed to go backwards in a number of ways. I worked myself into a frenzy a couple of times trying to keep the plates spinning and managed to work up a pretty good sweat, but we seemed to be going no where fast.
All of the sudden, however, according to God’s timing, many of these dreams and plans are happening. Because they are the work of God, and not Greg (so annoying when I try to switch the two) they are happening at the right time and with greater effectiveness than we dreamed. In the past three months here is what we have experienced as a church. We purchased a building that is a great home for us, got it at an amazing price (less than half what it would have been a few years ago) and immediately changed our ministry capacity. We challenged our people to get healthier and in response we have pledged to lose over 800 pounds as a congregation, gotten people exercising and eating healthier, and have a large group of people who are running the Chicago marathon with Team World Vision. I thought we might have 2-3 people run the marathon, we have over a dozen! (I checked and they all seem to know it is 26 miles long. Who’d of thunk?) We received a full price offer on our land we have for sale and will immediately be able to give away a large portion of that money, pay down our mortgage and begin our remodeling efforts. Last night I picked up Josh and Sarah Broward and their family from the airport. In this instance our ministry capacity as a church absolutely changed. This is an act of God.
We had a plan or dream to maybe bring in someone as an intern or someone needing a place to learn. We didn’t have much to offer besides a great environment and opportunity. (We love to sell people on opportunity, but it seldom pays the bills.) Instead God sent us a fantastically gifted and richly experienced family that brings a whole new future to our church. To do so they had to sell everything they own, move from Korea to Indiana for a part time position and take it on faith that sight unseen this is where God was calling them. But guess what? That leap of faith is going to bear such tremendous fruit in all of our lives as to change the fabric of our church.
So today, I marvel in God’s timing. I rejoice that through God our dreams not only can become reality, but they can be wonderfully reshaped to fit Gods’ glorious plans instead of our own. I give thanks for waiting and the fruit that comes when God brings in a harvest. I confess my own lack of faith in moments of frustration. And most of I, “I love it when God’s plan comes together!”