God’s plan for our lives is like a road-map, but He doesn’t show it all to us at once. He will only show us our next step when He is ready, not when we are. Like all good road-maps, ours includes turns, intersections, and even “rest-areas“. I LOVE rest-areas when I am traveling because I can’t drive for over two hours at a time and need to stop and stretch my legs periodically, but I don’t always like it when God places me in a “rest-area“. Maybe some examples will help illustrate what I am referring to.
A missionary couple comes home on furlough, and when they prepare to return to the country they were serving in, their way is blocked by the political situation in that country. Are they no longer missionaries? Of course they are, but their area of ministry may change dramatically.
A pastor I used to know, while he was without a church to pastor, took a job as the mail-clerk and telephone switchboard operator for his brother-in-law’s business. My mom was the owner’s executive-assistant, and she introduced me to Pastor John. I got to know Pastor John, and he was very instrumental in helping me through my wife’s suicide and the subsequent destruction of my family. He was also by my side during her funeral service, as was another Pastor, a Catholic Priest I had also gotten to know. Pastor John may have been in a “rest-area“, but God used his pastoral skills and loving heart to help me through a very-difficult time in my life. He also performed the wedding when my second wife and I got married. Just a few weeks later, he received a call to a church in another part of the country, and I haven’t seen him or heard from him since.
Another pastor I met a few years ago, while he was between churches, was the “substitute-preacher” when the church’s pastor was out of town, and he also taught at a private Christian school. When he was called to another church, he and his wife moved on.
From about 1981 til about 1991, I served in several different capacities in three different churches. I was on the building-committee of the first church. I taught Sunday School, sang in the choir and was a deacon in the second church, and I was in the band/orchestra in the third church. When we moved to a different part of the country in 1993, there was a brief “rest-area” period.
In 1994, I was elected, ordained and installed as an Elder in a small church. After I left that church in 1997, I went to another church where I was invited to sing in the choir. That only lasted for a few months until I remarried and we went to a different church. Our roles may change, but that doesn’t mean that our new role isn’t ministry.
After my second wife and I moved to Florida in 2000, I became involved in the music ministry of yet another church, and eventually became the Music Director. That lasted until I got cross-ways with the pastor’s mother-in-law who had very different ideas about what and how we should sing. Rather than fighting it, we moved on to another church.
Thanks to an invitation to participate in the church’s ground-breaking celebration, we immediately found our new church-home. I joined the choir, even though I decided to keep a low-profile otherwise. I also participated when we dedicated the new sanctuary. That lasted for about two years until we decided to move to another state in late 2006.
I have managed to keep a low-profile in every church I have been in since 2006, and I haven’t even joined the praise-team in the church I belong to now. I did offer to help out with the sound-system, but they haven’t even taken my up on that offer. The musical talent runs very deep in that church, so I enjoy just being there. When it comes to music-ministry, I am in a “rest-area“. That doesn’t mean that I don’t still enjoy singing, and He may yet use me in the music-ministry, but all in His good time.
God has kept me in a public-ministry “rest-area” for almost ten years, but has He? I felt led to start this blog on December 31, 2013, and I have been writing and posting regularly since then. With regular readers as far away as South Africa, Australia and New Zealand, this ministry is pretty “public“.
A few months ago, I received the “call” to begin a ministry at Cypress Cove. This may be the most ambitious “project” I have ever taken on, but God is still in control. This isn’t about me. It is about spreading God’s kingdom into a part of His world where it hasn’t been before. I am simply His servant, and God calls the shots. If this ministry thrives, it won’t be because I am so great. It will be because God is great and awesome and doing His work through me.
While I have been in a “rest-area” from teaching and church-leadership since 1997, God hasn’t left me idle. He has directed me into other avenues for ministry. For those who are lamenting that God doesn’t seem to be using you for an obvious ministry, all I can say is “Trust Him” and see what else He may have for you to do. God alone knows His plans for you, and He is working everything out for your good and His glory. Oh, and by-the-way, loving your neighbor in tangible ways IS ministry, and you ARE serving God by showing His love to that person.