Over this Lenten season, the Spiritual Formation team at First Presbyterian Church in Bend put a call out to all to submit writings for a Lenten Devotional. I will do my best to post those here daily. You can also go to our website and access all of the devotions on a pdf file.
Here is the next submission:
Young or old, new to the faith or nearing sainthood, we face the perplexing problem of making major decisions that impact the rest of our life. We want to be sure that the decisions be in compliance with God’s will. That factor alone adds anxiety to the decision.
In my mid-forties, I faced the first test of this situation. Should I continue my present career or radically change employment, move the family to a remote rural area, take a drastic cut in salary and literally begin a second career? That was the downside. On the plus, this was a job I would enjoy, it fit well with my university training and I would not be facing regular family moves. I needed guidance.
In Jeremiah 29:11-12, God says, “For I know the plans I have for you, … you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.” I prayed and what emerged was a four-step matrix that laid out a way to make good decisions. As an experienced seaman, I knew how to tell when the ship was on course. First, check the compass heading. Second, Look Back at the wake. If your heading is true and your wake straight, you’re headed right. With the Bible as my compass, I began to examine my past to determine where God had been taking me, what experiences were mine, what had I learned, what evidence was there to show me which path to continue. I knew if God has a plan for my life some evidence of that plan should be present in my history.
Next I was to Look Ahead. What opportunities fit the path I had been following? I knew from other experiences not to expect a perfect fit. But, to expect a position I could grow into.
The next step was to Look Around. Was someone else doing this? Should I join them, learn from them or back away from that decision? Along with this step I learned that I should look to see if resources were available to support doing the task.
And finally, when all of the research is done, Look Up. Was this really in the direction that God was pointing? I considered King David’s desire to build a massive temple so that God might dwell among His People. He easily met the first three steps of my formula. But, God intervened and assigned the task to his son, Solomon. In my first experience I had the same result, I looked and saw a far more qualified person applying for the job and I quietly withdrew.
Much later, an opportunity came to join with a mission group that was beginning a new ministry to members of the International Military Christian Community. It meant leaving a well-paying position, for one with no pay, responsible for all my expenses and extensive international travel. In addition, neither Carol nor I knew any language and were short on cultural knowledge. We worked through the matrix and it became quite clear this was the path for us. In August of 1988, I became Coordinator of Ministry to the military members of all of the nations in the Asia-Pacific basin. What followed has been 20 years of the most exciting, thrilling and satisfying years of my life.
Psalm 119:105: “Your word is a clear guide to my feet and a light shining on my path.”