“’For I know the plans I have for you,’ says the Lord. ‘They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.’” – Jeremiah 29:11
Dear Flock of the Shepherd of the Valley,
If you made it to the end of my letter from August that was on the SOV website and Facebook page, you may recognize the above passage from Jeremiah. If you were part of VBS at the end of July, you may remember this being a daily verse and have the tune of the accompanying song stuck in your head as well. If you were part of the SOV Capital Campaign five years ago, you may recall that the last page of the beautiful booklet of Our Journey in Faith contained these prophetic words as well. If none of these apply to you, may you still find encouragement and meaning in them.
Indeed, God has plans for us to have a future and a hope. What gives me hope as your new pastor is the fact that God has put together a bunch of people who call themselves SOV and desire to have a future together. What exactly that future will look like, well, all we know is that God’s plans are for good and not disaster. As we have all experienced, whether as a congregation or in other areas of our life, the plans we make are often different from God’s plans for us. There are many of you who were part of planning for a new permanent home by now. That was not God’s plans for us. I certainly was not planning to be the pastor of a small town Massachusetts mission congregation, but God’s plan for good has made this happen!
In my conversations with you it has becomes increasingly clear that we have work to do to keep following God’s plan together. How is God equipping us to show the community the way to Christ? How is God growing our faith to live the love of Christ? What is the unifying strand of our mission that holds together all of our various plans and activities and turns our attention to God?
During the past few weeks, I’ve made plans so that I can feel like I’m being productive and have control of things. Sometimes these plans work out and sometimes they don’t. What I’ve noticed though is that when plans don’t work out, I can usually hear God telling me why not. Sometimes a cancellation has opened up another opportunity. In other situations, I haven’t even identified a need yet and it’s already been met. When I am trying to force a solution, I’m usually more frustrated than if I just let the situation unfold.
Together, under the guidance of the great Shepherd, we are invited to let God’s plans for good for us unfold. Yes, we continue to put plans in place to carry out our ministry. Let us do so in prayer though, open to God’s activity in our lives. Some of our plans may align with God’s plans. Some may not. It is God’s plans though that are the source of our hope and our future.