From the Parsonage...
From the Parsonage...
I'm sitting here typing one-handed and realizing how quickly our plans can change in a short period of time. Under normal circumstances, I would be whizzing along on my computer and doing several other things at the same time, but a recent fall and a huge cast on my hand have definitely slowed me down a bit. This forced slowdown has also given me time to contemplate on how often we make our own plans, and then God says, "Whoa!"
Just a little over a month ago, I was thinking about this June newsletter and how it would be my farewell to this group of people who mean so much to me. As some of you know, I was having a hard time with Pastor Steve's decision to retire at the end of June. I was trying to find a way to tie up all my loose ends and leave Maineville with a smile on my face.
One of the things we look forward to every couple of years is a trip to The Cove, Billy Graham's Training Center in Asheville, North Carolina, and we were scheduled for a Pastor and Spouse Retreat there before our retirement took place. This year, the timing seemed totally off since we had so much to do, and there were a couple of days when we thought we should just cancel but decided to work around it.
We got up early on the first day of the retreat and started the seven hour drive to The Cove. On previous trips, we concentrated on the road, and I pretty much dozed the hours away. This time was different, and we literally talked all the way. One of the main topics of conversation was how much we loved our church and hated to leave, although we both knew we needed more time to spend on home and family. I guess we were having some second thoughts.
We arrived safely at The Cove and settled in right before the opening session with Jim Cymbala, the 81 year-old pastor of the Brooklyn Tabernacle. Jim actually started this thriving church with 15 people and is still their lead pastor 50 years later. His wife, Carol, is the originator of the nationally known Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir and continues to conduct that group today. It was obvious that they love their church and its people. Jim's heart for God was also obvious in the following sessions and, especially, in the shared prayer times.
At the end of each three day retreat, there is a time that is open to testimony from the people who attended. The very first pastor who stood up stated that he had retired from ministry seven months before and now realized that he had followed his plan instead of God's plan. He was leaving there and going back to his calling. Steve and I just looked at each other!
All the way home, we continued to talk about our timing versus God's timing, wondering if we, like that other pastor, were following our own plans. We decided that God would make that plain to us if we were open to listen. Soon after we returned home, the District Superintendent told Steve that he wasn't able to locate a pastor for Maineville and that the best he could hope for would be to find a retired pastor who was willing to come back on a part-time basis. Again we just looked at each other!
So... it seems that the "retired" pastor might as well be one who already knows and loves this church. I hope you are all as happy with this decision as we are. As I said at the beginning of this newsletter, "how quickly our plans change in a short period of time." Now, I need the healing of my hand to go just as quickly!
“For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD...”