There's a familiar quote that has been attributed to many that says, "If you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans."
I'm sure I've made God laugh out loud over the years because like many, I had plans! I planned to one day be a professor in a school setting teaching English. Instead, God placed me in a church setting and in higher education teaching people about Him.
I planned on working at an institute of higher education and serving full-time at my church or a church elsewhere. God allowed me to work in higher education for six years before that door closed. He also allowed me interview to be a part of full-time staff at my church and another church. I didn't get either position and the door was closed. Those were my plans, you see. But God had other plans.
Recently, God let me know that it was time for me to move on from my church home - a place that I love. A place that has been so instrumental to my spiritual growth and development. A place where I discovered my gifts. A place I had been a member of and served faithfully in for 21 years. I had plans to be at Imani, and to serve faithfully in the role as Associate Minister. This is where I had been planted. But there is a time to plant and a time to uproot when God has other plans.
God started dealing with me regarding HIS plans about 3 years ago. I begin to feel a shifting. A pruning. A purging. What used to be comfortable for me was no longer comfortable. What used to flow with ease was not flowing so easily. I loved serving; yet I felt displaced. I prayed that God would show me what else He wanted me to do within my church. I begin to hear specific words about change. Transition. Moving forward. Next Level. As matter of fact the theme for our church was Level Up!
Of course, I wanted to do all of those things, but I was thinking too narrowly because I wanted to do them in the comfort of the incubator I was nestled in for the past 21 years.
Little did I know was that as Imani Church was preparing to move into its new location, God was preparing me to move on. As I was praying specifically for the new building on May 8, 2018, I heard the God say, "I will allow you to see it. I will allow you to serve in it. But you will not stay."
I tried to act like I didn't hear what was spoken so clearly. Now LORD? We've been talking about moving for years and have tried several times, and the time when it ACTUALLY happens, I can't stay?
Really LORD? I can actually walk to church and NOW you say it's time to go?"
In April 2019 I felt an urgency that before the second half of 2019 got here I needed to be gone.
I had plans. But God had plans for my life as well. God will give us grace and mercy in our planning for only so long. He will allow us to do some of the things we want to do. He will allow us to go places that we want to go to. But ultimately, our journey is about fulfilling His will for our lives, not ours.
At any given moment God can disrupt and interrupt the plans we hold on to so tightly. He can shake up the plans that we hold closely to the vest, and smack them right out of our hands! At any given time He can change our direction, and He doesn't need our permission when He determines that it's time to go with His plans.
Someone reading this may be in this same space. God has been speaking to your heart and letting you know that He has other things in store in for you, but because of comfort, tenure, relationships and friendships, you've been reluctant to heed His voice. I encourage you to walk in obedience and step out on faith!
God continues to show me that faith is better seen than heard. Faith comes by hearing the Word of God. Once the Word of God is heard and received, there is an expectation to apply it to our lives. Application of a thing is active. We can say all day that we have faith and trust God, but action is the best demonstration of faith. Remember, faith without works is dead (James 2:17).
Change is hard, but necessary. Without change we will never know the new things God has planned for our lives. Without change, we will never experience the metamorphosis that God has designed for our lives. Metamorphosis isn't just for butterflies!
Without change, we will never become who we are destined to be.
Yes, it will hurt. There will be times when you feel all alone, but God promises to never leave you nor forsake you. You will grieve. You will weep. Yet, a day will come when the desire to be about His business will become greater than your comfort. The excitement and mystery of what's ahead will be more appealing than the fear of what you're leaving behind. Although I have moments of fear, I'm beginning to joyfully look forward to what's ahead. I'm beginning to understand that joy comes in the morning.
On Sunday, June 23, 2019, I walked into Imani Church and worshiped with my church family. I heard the Word of God from my beloved pastor, and I walked out heeding the voice of God, on a new path for the journey. Only God knows if it is for a season or permanent. But what I know for sure is that God is doing a new thing! I embrace it and continue to hold God's hand as He leads the way.
I don't know what's ahead, but God knows the plans He has for me, and those are plans to prosper and not harm me; plans to give me hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11). And since God knows the plans He has for me, I can trust that they are best plans for my life.
Many are the plans in a person's heart, but it is the Lord's purpose that prevails. (Proverbs 19:21)
But now, this is what the LORD says - he who created you, Jacob, he who formed you, Israel: "Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you.