This weekend I will drive up to the Chicago area to celebrate the 20-year anniversary of walking across the stage to receive my high school diploma. That’s right, it’s my 20-year class reunion! I still remember opening up the little booklet my principal gave me, fully expecting to see a hand written note saying, “Please see me after the ceremony.” You see, I was not a good student, and it really came down to the wire for me in high school. I like to think the grace of God was alive and active in the heart of every teacher who signed off on my promotion to college. Either that, or they just couldn’t stomach the idea of having me around for another year.
In any event, this weekend I’ll get to go back and see some faces I haven’t seen in years. Facebook and twitter have taken away most of the mystery that used to accompany reunions, but I am still eager to have conversations with folks from my past. Some of them may know that I am a pastor now, but for those who don’t, I wonder if it will shock them as much as it still shocks me.
Honestly, it takes events like these for me to see how far God can take someone over the course of 20 years. Being a pastor was not on my radar when I walked that stage all those years ago. In fact, every gift, talent or skill I currently use was learned about and developed after 1995. I’m not going to bore you with the details of the list, but I do want to take this opportunity to show you how our plans just don’t measure up to what God has in store for us, and really, it’s better that way. If I had known God’s plan all along I would have tried to stop it at every turn.
You see, back in those days I was certain I would make a living playing professional baseball. The odds were not in my favor, but I had all the confidence in the world that I could achieve it. It was Plan A for my life because Plan B wasn’t needed. And then, over the course of twenty years, God began an extreme makeover.
Here’s the cool part, God made a way for me to pursue my plan, while bringing new people into my life who would help me discover new talents, teach me new skills and make me aware of new opportunities. God used MY plan to prepare me for HIS plan. How cool is that?! When my plan came to an end I found myself equipped with a whole new skill set, and God has been maturing me in those skills ever since. This past Sunday, for example, I was in front of people leading worship, playing guitar, singing, and preaching a message on Mother’s Day to a congregation that I am the pastor over. This is something the 1995 Josh model could not have done at all. Physically, or spiritually! In essence, when I graduated high school I began to graduate into a different person, and it’s been a fun journey.
This may be a good time for you to pause and think about how far God has brought you. You may be surprised to see that He has been active in your plans all along.
Romans 8:28 “For in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who are called according to His purpose.”