up-to-date obedience.

[disclaimer: you’re getting a little bit of freehand Jeff today. no particular end in mind with this post.]

I’m not usually one to sleep very late – typically, I find myself waking by about 7:30 at the latest – even when I have the time and desire to sleep in.

As a result, I’ve become a bit of a planner (increasingly moreso) because otherwise I’ll awake with no idea what to do, and I typically resort to killing time on my cell phone. I made time on Sunday night to plot out my whole week – what I’m doing every day, when I’m doing it, and how long I have to do it.

So imagine my horror when I looked at the clock to discover I had woken up at 8:57 this morning. Well, there goes waking up at 6:30, working out, there goes the 45 minutes I allotted to read the Bible, the 30 minutes I gave myself to read another book, the time I planned to clean, etc. etc. (the good news is that my friend offered to cover the front end of my shift, so I’m not on as much of a time crunch today.)

I spent a few seconds looking at the schedule, mourning it. There it went. There was no way I could go back and change it – so what now?

I checked my email (as I typically do in the morning) and had a message from my boss with some excel sheets to look over, and a list of things we needed to start planning and thinking about.

Instantly my mind went to full-on work mode. Even as I tried to read a book, it was all I could do to shut out the noise in my brain of, “you need to get to the shop and start working on stuff. No time for books. You have a million other things to do.”

I stopped for a second, trying to reorient myself and let myself enjoy the book for a little while, all the while knowing that the unforeseen circumstances would probably end up having me at the shop a lot sooner than expected, and I came to terms with that.

Why do I tell this story? Not to say I’m a workaholic – I actually really enjoy my job, especially as I come into my own with the off-the-floor portions of it. I’m not sad because work called a little early today.

I guess I share this with you because I’m thinking about this idea of what to do when the plan falls apart a little bit. I know that plans tend to need a little bit of wiggle room because usually unforeseen things come up – I think that in the past I’ve used that as an excuse not to plan, because after all, what’s the point of making a plan if you won’t be able to stick to it?

On a micro level, that manifests itself in mornings like this, where little things fall apart. But on a macro level, I’m experiencing that a lot lately.

the two biggest examples:

-What do you do when the job you expected to only have for about 3-4 months turns into a career?
-What happens when the church, the people, and the city you called home become (in a crude way of saying it) secondary? That is, when all signs point to relocating your church community and with that, your primary set of friends and support group?

I’ve had this question on my mind for the last few months, and I’m starting to see the culmination of it: God, what does it look like for me to obey You right now?

You could say that I’m getting my perspective changed on it a little – I had been on a path of ministry for a while. I thought it was going to be the thing I was going to do – I was supposed to plant a church, and if I didn’t do that, at least I was supposed to lead a small group, lead worship (or at least be on the worship team,) etc. But what now – now that I’m spending a few months walking through church doors in which I’m a relative stranger? What now that I’ve left a place of influence and authority to a place where I have to learn to sit and listen to teaching, and eventually bed myself in with a new set of people before I even start to think of how I can be in ministry again?

A big answer to that question has been my job. I’m really fortunate in that I’ve found a job I’m in love with – it has its times when it’s exhausting, occasionally I feel overpowered and overshadowed by it (in that I feel it’s easy to be “the guy from the shop” instead of Jeff) – but ultimately, I adore it. I love serving it, I love serving customers, and I love serving baristas. I know that I’m well short of how good I should be at my job, but I enjoy it so much. And for reasons I can’t shake, I keep sensing that the answer to the question, “God, how do I obey You right now?” is simply, “do your job and do it well.” The point of worry for me there is that I either become a workaholic or otherwise settle for that as the only way I do ministry (that is, not get involved at another church) but in this instance, I suppose that I have to trust the guidance and deposit of the Holy Spirit.

This is the beautiful thing about life (and perhaps my favorite and most pervasive lesson of late) – that God will accomplish His plan one way or another. That whether I’m a pastor of a church or the buyer at a coffee shop, God’s ultimate plan for His Kingdom and His glory goes unhindered. That – irrespective even of whether or not I choose to obey Him – He’ll do everything He’s set out to accomplish.

And yet He chooses us: He is unshaken by the changes in our own plans; He uses us in any and every circumstance as we incline our ear to Him and posture ourselves to obey; and that He does the work of obedience in us.

Happy Wednesday to you, friend.

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