By Erik Ingram
Growing up, I was fortunate to have a wonderful youth pastor in my home church for all of the major milestones of my formative faith years. One of his most distinguishing traits was his relentless enthusiasm for Jeremiah 29:11, to the extent that the text was eventually painted around the perimeter of the youth room. With so much of our lives ahead of us, he felt strongly about the need to impress on us that God was, is, and always will be there to guide us, even when the going was tough and we didn’t necessarily feel that His presence in the moment.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (NIV)
On the surface, it seems like a simple sentiment, yet, speaking from my own experience, it’s one that’s incredibly easy to forget in those times of struggle. I’ve been fortunate to have people in my life that have both directly and indirectly reminded me of this when I’ve needed it, which has served to strengthen my faith foundation as a whole.
The reason I bring this up is that our church has just passed a significant milestone on the journey to finding our next pastor. With the end of Pastor Teri’s time with us, it very much feels that we are in the “home stretch” of this process, and that things will stabilize with a new sense of permanence soon. I liken it to the cross-country races I ran during high school; we’ve just crested a big hill and we can see the flags of the finish line in the distance, but there is still one more to climb before we can settle into finishing mode. It’s easy to get impatient with the pace at which the process is moving, but just as a runner must exert strength to climb that final hill and finish, we must use our spiritual strength to remember that God has a plan to prosper this congregation and give us a future, but that the call committee is still discerning how it will manifest itself.
That plan includes remembering our roles in it; I remember when my home church was in the process of adding another pastor, several people expressed how they thought that they could do a better, faster job if they were on the call committee, and that they wouldn’t needlessly hold things up the way they felt those in charge were. When it came down to it, of course, none of those people had wanted to be involved when the committee was forming, and in doing so, accepted their role in supporting them instead (even if it wasn’t as willingly as some might hope). Our congregation has that same role, and we must see it through to the end the same way the committee does with their work.
It is undeniably an exciting time for Prince of Peace Lutheran Church. With the finish line on our long journey distantly in sight, it’s tempting to think we can cruise the rest of the way there. However, we must always be mindful of the plan God has laid out for us, and to let Him guide us across. As simple as it might sound, it will continue to require our collective spiritual strength to do, and I am confident that we will continue to place our trust in His will for us.
This blog is run by the council members of Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Logan, UT. For more information, check out our church's website at princeopeace.org.