I was totally persuaded we should head to the NT to begin a new ministry. Everything was pointing in that direction. The burden on our hearts. The enthusiasm of family and friends. The great need. The neglect of so many. The way everything was falling into place. A job, a house, schools, coworkers. A replacement back home. The time was right. The lights were green. The decisions were made. The belongings were gone. Only the farewells to go. Except for… cancer.
My God! What were you thinking? Why did you send us down that path? What’s the story? Did you change your mind? Were you playing tricks? Wasn’t it hard enough without raising our hopes and then dashing them?
I asked God to please explain. He reminded me of these words…
In their hearts humans plan their course,
but the Lord establishes their steps. (Proverbs 16:9)
We make plans. We have to. It’s wise. It’s prudent. But we don’t have all the information. Our decisions are always provisional. We have enough trouble controlling ourselves, let alone every other factor.
Yet God is all knowing. God is all wise. God is all capable. God is all good. He has plans for us that we do not know. We plan our course, but the Lord establishes our steps.
I’ve learned that God does want us ministering in the NT. Not necessarily the Northern Territory, though we do not know. But in New Territory, that he had mapped out for us. Who would have thought that I’d be able to minister to people with cancer, as a fellow traveller? Who’d have thought I’d ever write anything? How could we have ever been brought to trust God in the face of death, except by being brought right to the edge of death itself? He has broadened our awareness. He has deepened our empathy. He has shown us deep comfort, and called us to share.
These aren’t the plans I’d have chosen. It wouldn’t have been in my script. In so many ways it doesn’t seem right. Yet what seems so wrong, God uses for good. This is God’s way. He did it long ago with Joseph…
You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. (Genesis 50:20)
He did it supremely with Jesus…
23 This man was handed over to you by God’s deliberate plan and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross. 24 But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him. (Acts2:23-24)
And he promises to do it again and again…
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28)
We will keep making our plans. We need to do this. We’ll seek wisdom. Weigh up the possibilities. Talk with others. Search our hearts. Seek the will of God. Pray and read the Scriptures. We will plan our course. God knows we must. But we will seek to do so, recognising that it is ultimately the Lord who determines our steps.
Ministry in the NT?
Thank God it is happening!