We pray “whatever” but we live “whatever works best for me”. We say “God I will go where you want me to go, let me just lay out for you the conditions for my surrender.” Does whatever really mean whatever?
Almost 20 years ago now, God spoke to Michele and I about a church plant in a brand new community in far north phoenix. Very few people know this story I am sharing with you in this post for the first time. We knew God had something in store and it would involve us leaving our current pastorate position. I felt so strongly about what God was saying that we begin to examine the community and purchased a home in that community. I met with the developer and was given inside information of seven locations the developer had set aside for church plants. They ranged in size from 10 acres to 1 acre. It was an incredible opportunity.
After gathering all this information I took it to our district leadership and shared with them we believe that God was asking us to lead this church plant and at this point we could pick whichever acreage site we wanted. It was almost a faith test of sorts. Could be believe God to fill up a church on 10 acres, 7 acres, 5 acres or 1 acre.
Michele and I were asked by our leadership to go to a church planting week long training class in Texas. The Church Plant class was incredible we learned so much. Church planters from 5 states were present. During the class each church plant team was asked to put together their strategic church plant plan. At the end of the class the winning team would be awarded a financial gift to help them purchase supplies for their church plant. We were surprised that our plan won. It seemed everything was falling into place. Although we were sad to think about leaving our church we were excited about the opportunity in our new home community.
Shortly after we returned to Phoenix it became apparent that the project would not go forward. It was a Whatever that seemed to big for that moment. We were extremely disappointed but in fairness to our leadership it was a very difficult season and some big transitions played into the decision making. All that said, I know an opportunity was missed. We missed a Whatever moment.
When we say “yes” to God’s Whatever’s for our lives we find ourselves in a powerless position. We lose control and must learn to trust. God taught me some powerful lessons through this experience and revealed issues in my life that needed to be addressed for me to grow spiritually.
First, I was able to see my own fear of following God’s Whatever’s for my life. There is no doubt in my mind that I could have had a bigger impact on our leaderships decision if I had not been fearful of moving from the comfort of a pastorate where I was secure financially and respected as a spiritual leader to a new community where I was unknown and had no promise of a congregation. As I looked at our young family of five it was difficult to think about taking such a risk. It would be easier, I thought at the time, to stay where I was comfortable where my family was secure.
Second, it revealed I had trust issues with God that needed to be dealt a death blow. God is my provider as long as i can see the provision coming. Honestly facing this truth about myself set the course for the next step in my life. It was season to learn to completely trust God. Over the next several years God placed challenges in my life that required me to trust Him completely. In truth it has been the highlight of my life. Learning to completely trust God has removed a great deal of daily anxious thoughts. He is so faithful.