Once in awhile things just seem to come together. I hesitate to say it's God's will because I long ago abandoned the notion that God's will is personal, as if his will is a matter of where I am to live, what job I should have, who I should marry, etc. The problem with that manner of thinking is that if I get one little thing wrong, it not only places me "outside of God's will," but does so for countless others, as well. If for instance, I had married the wrong woman, it means I've not only missed God's will for myself, but also made it impossible for the woman I should have married and the man who should have married the one who actually became my wife; and the dominoes begin to fall.
Instead, I've preached for years that God's will is moral, ethical, and spiritual, but not personal. It is easily knowable, revealed in Scripture and in Jesus Christ, and consists of how I live no matter where I am or what I am doing. I believe this. But there is always the temptation to want God to speak personally as to where I should minister and what I am to do in that place. In that vein, I've been wondering about my future. I have never believed that retirement means my life shrinking to nothing more than taking care of the 2 1/2 acres on which we live. So I've been thinking about Cuba. I had believed that retirement meant spending more time there, but wasn't sure. So I accompanied my granddaughter on a trip there.
Strangely, I didn't feel any compelling passion to spend a lot of time in Cuba. I expect to visit, hopefully to teach and encourage pastors, but the bulk of my life is here in the good ol' USA.
When I was pastor of Park church, I made as a ministry focus three sub-sections to our mission statement of reaching the heart of the county with the heart of Christ. I firmly believed then and still do now, that we need to center our efforts on "Men, Money, and Missions." Too many of our churches are mostly female-oriented, which either drives men away or leaves them listless and uncommitted. And many churches suffer from financial strains caused by not being taught the importance of tithing and sacrificial giving. Still more are so inwardly focused that missions is incomprehensible to them.
Since retirement, the vision for Park church lies with pastor Joe, not me. This morning pastor Joe asked us what we would do, what ministry we would engage if we knew we couldn't fail. If I knew I couldn't fail, I would know that either my sights weren't set high enough, or that it was definitely not of God. Fail-proof means faith-less, which is never God's plan. But as he spoke, some things began to fall into place for me. My ministry focus for the past number of years is not to change. I believe I myself need to continue this emphasis on "Men, Money, and Missions," continuing to focus my efforts on engaging and enlisting men who will covenant together to devote themselves to missions, both by raising the funding for our own mission teams and providing funding for mission projects in Cuba and elsewhere, as well as personally engaging in international mission projects. As I said, it has begun to come together, not as a matter of God's will, but as the direction I want to go at this stage in my life. I am grateful that God gives freedom to make choices as long as we center everything in Christ, and that when we make those choices, we can feel God's favor.