By Harry Hogan, shared October 27, 2013
As a committee, and as a church, we are all excited and confident that God has a plan and already has a new pastor identified. Our over-arching goal then is to do our best, as humanly possible, to align with His will as we discover the person He has selected. We strive to cooperate with Him in this revelation process by relying on the Holy Spirit and faithfully carrying out our roles and trusting in His timing. As we do this we seek to see things through God's eyes and follow His direction – which means we need wisdom, discernment, and obedience.
To this end, I hope we will all remember what Dr. E shared with us recently (during committee training) about God's choosing of David to be the next king of Israel as captured in I Samuel 16. God's standards and criteria are not ours. Jesse didn't even include David initially. God told Samuel: "The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart" (1 Samuel 16:7b). I pray that we will discover what it means in our case to truly "look at the heart" in all of our decisions and deliberations, and not be overly influenced, or even possibly distracted, by "outward appearance."
Another story that comes to mind is the sending of the spies into Canaan (Numbers 13 & 14). All twelve of them reported a land full of fruit and flowing with milk and honey; there was universal agreement on this. But they also found the land inhabited by giants, and most of them responded in fear. They were afraid of the giants and even wanted to go back to the captivity and slavery of Egypt. They preferred the familiar and known over the new and uncertain. As we all recall, though, two of the twelve, Joshua and Caleb, had true faith and saw things through God's eyes, declaring: "The land we passed through and explored is exceedingly good. If the Lord is pleased with us, He will lead us into that land, a land flowing with milk and honey, and will give it to us" (Numbers 14:7-8). Here again, the issue seems to be seeing things from a human standpoint vs. seeing things from God's perspective. As we work through the search process, I pray that we will enjoy the excitement of "exploring the land" and discovering all of the things He has prepared for us and how they are "exceedingly good" indeed. I also pray that we won't be deterred or fooled by challenges that arise, whatever those "giants" may look like in our case; also, that He will even be pleased with us, especially as we work through the many decision points, and that we will be able to see clearly how He is leading us and how ultimately He will give to us the pastor He has ordained. May God help us to be more like Joshua and Caleb, fully trusting in His promises and His assurances to lead us and give to us. As we seek to support and encourage one another in this adventure, I think it will be helpful to pray like Paul does in Philippians 1:9-11:
"9And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, 10so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, 11filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God."
Verse 9 says "that your love may abound," and this should indeed be our starting point and foundation – that we know His love for us and that we show love to one another in all we do. I hope we will all be reminded of the familiar words in I Corinthians 13. These verses have been especially helpful and meaningful, in my view, over recent weeks and months as our church has worked through various issues and decisions. We should keep this ever in front of us.
Verse 10 says "that you may be able to discern what is best," and this reminds us of Samuel's visit to Jesse, and Joshua and Caleb's bold faith. We don't know at this point what kind of "giants" we may face in the days ahead. Some may be like those in Canaan: to be feared from a human viewpoint, but essentially already overtaken by God's delivery. Others may be more like Samuel's interactions with Jesse: the Lord has not chosen this one, are there others?
Whatever challenges arise we can trust that God will help us to discern what is best if we work together and if we always proceed "through Jesus Christ" and "to the glory and praise of God" as verse 11 emphasizes.
Finally, it’s never too early, and we hope not presuming upon God, to be praying for the family and current place of service of our future pastor. While we all recognize that God's will for His Kingdom work here on earth encompasses all congregations of believers, it remains also true that relocating is a disruptive experience in many ways. Let us pray for peace, comfort, and strength for all who will be affected and influenced, especially his family and his current church.