• Jim Farrell

Plans Seemingly Interrupted...But Not Really

My wife and I are planners. Over the years, we have generally lived our lives as organized and planned people. Having taken up the RV life in 2019, we’ve continued to live this way (although in a more relaxed manner), especially in the sense of laying out our travels, scheduling where we stay (even for one night) and what we see along the way.

In 2018, we began planning for a trip to Europe that would include the 2020 performance of the Passion Plan in Oberammergau, Germany. Then a pandemic hit, and that performance of this historic play was postponed for two years. So, this past summer of 2022, we flew to Philadelphia to leave August 1 with 26 others we were hosting for the previously postponed Alpine Tour and Passion Play. It was a fantastic tour, and the play was truly memorable.

But something else happened in the course of pursuing this postponed tour. Just before leaving Pennsylvania for our trip abroad, I received a text message, informing me of a transitional ministry opportunity and asking if I was available to consider serving. In the light of our imminent departure for Europe, I begged off an immediate response, asking if I could call upon our return.

When we got back, we had planned for another 10 days in Pennsylvania to visit family and friends. I made the promised phone call, only to find myself in conversation with a former associate about the ministry opportunity. Since I was still in the area, plans were made for me to visit the church for Sunday worship (the only Sunday before we left Pennsylvania), and to meet after services with the church leadership. The meeting went well, but there were others to be interviewed.

About two weeks later, back in Idaho where our RV was parked, I received an invitation to be a Transitional Pastor for a congregation in Pennsylvania. This was not in our plans! How would it work given our current retirement and RV life, which by the way we really enjoy? Our winter place in Arizona is great. We don’t want to lose it. But what do we do with our RV? Do we truck it back to Pennsylvania? But what about the expense of that? And what about winter in PA? This was a planners’ nightmare!

But conversations continued. The church agreed to grant me a week a month to work remotely, to travel back to AZ so that my wife and I could be together. She would come to me occasionally. We could keep our winter RV spot. And yes, an apartment came available for me in PA, located 15 minutes from the church. Furniture was provided and set up in the apartment. A car was provided. So, November 1, I will return to Pennsylvania to work again for a season as a transitional pastor. This was not in our plans, BUT…

In the Bible are these words of wisdom: A person’s heart plans his way, but the LORD determines his steps… Many plans are in a person’s heart, but the LORD’S decree will prevail. (Proverbs 16:9; 19:21)

It’s ok to be a planner and to plan your days, but we are to do so with the understanding that there is and always will be the Greatest Planner and the Greatest Plan at work. I could perceive this return to ministry work as an interruption, but is it? Doing this was not on my radar, but God’s plans for us were not interrupted. God orchestrated, even determined, His purpose to the extent of having us be in Pennsylvania in August of 2022 to get a phone call, to have an interview, to be extended the call to serve, to be provided housing and transportation, and a host of other things, in order that the LORD’S ruling prevail. It’s downright amazing, astounding, humbling, and always best.

May God’s grace enable me/us to yield unpretentiously, gratefully, obediently, and faithfully, to the Greatest Planner and the Greatest Plan, for the glory of God and the accomplishing of His Kingdom purposes!

…and the journey continues,

Pastor Jim

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