All According To Plan
Jan 20, 2014
This weekend didn't go exactly according to plan for our church plant here in Spokane. It's January in the Inland Northwest, which means it's cold, so what a perfect time for the heating unit in our rented building to die! The repairs were scheduled to happen on Tuesday the 21st, which, if you do the math, doesn't increase the temperature by even one degree on Sunday the 19th! Well, we acted in the genius forethought that God has given us and ran two space heaters all night long on Saturday to raise the temperature from forty-five degrees up into the balmy fifties by Sunday morning. Yeah, we were planning for it to be slightly more effective than that. My fingers were a "bit chilly" and it was hard to hold my guitar pick as the band "warmed up" - I use that term loosely - and checked the sound. But do you know what? We had a great time! Jesus was worshiped, we had encouraging participation, we had guests who liked the meeting and plan to come back, and we all built some great memories together. Someone even said it was my best preaching to date - maybe because it was short!
Church life is kind of like vacationing with the family: the best stories, and the ones we laugh hardest about later, are the ones where things don't go according to plan. The stories where we come through difficult circumstances together bond us together like little else. I feel silly even using the following verse to make a point since our heating issue wasn't exactly an "evil" situation, but read this anyway. "As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good..." (Genesis 50:20, ESV) God always has a plan and He always has a purpose, whether life seems to be falling apart or we just have to shiver through a chilly meeting!
That quote from Genesis 50:20 was originally stated by Joseph, the Vice Ruler of the land of Egypt. Here's his back-story: Long before Joseph was an Egyptian ruler, his jealous brothers faked his death and sold him into slavery. While a slave, he was sexually harassed by his master's wife, accused of attempting to rape her, and wrongfully sent to prison as a sex offender. Through all of this wicked assault on his life God was with him, and ultimately the Egyptian Pharaoh elevated him from the prison to a position of great power. When famine later ravaged the land, Joseph was perfectly positioned to rescue the people, including the very brothers who had betrayed him.
Looking back on his life, Joseph could see that when his brothers sold him into slavery, God had a bigger plan. Even while he was lying in the pit of captivity God had a better purpose. When slandered and then thrown into prison unjustly, God's power was at work behind it all. The evil others meant against Joseph, God meant for good. Even more, their very actions played right into God's sovereign purpose. He could later declare to his brothers, "It was not you who sent me here, but God." While others were hating, betraying, slandering, and imprisoning, God was preserving a nation!
A little perspective is always nice, and makes our frigid Sunday meeting seem a little less tragic! Okay, not very tragic at all. It's so good to know that God is building us together, building some really funny memories, and that when we face even more challenging circumstances together in the future, it will all be according to plan - just maybe not our plan!