There are times in our lives when we know we are preparing for something, i.e. we go to college to prepare for a career, we begin jogging to prepare to run a race, we date in preparation for marriage. However, there are other times when we don’t recognize our circumstances or the people God puts in our lives as preparations for His plan for us.
When my husband and I bought our first house, we had no idea that our lives would be drastically changed by our neighbors. We were one of the first people on the street and a pastor and his family moved in next door to us. Down the street a woman who became a dear friend and across the street another dear friend, both of whom were women of faith.
All of these people planted seeds that led me to come to know the Lord. The pastor’s wife invited me to work with her in children’s ministry. Who would have known that was the beginning of a life in ministry? I certainly wouldn’t have expected that, but God did. He knew exactly who would be living on my street and knew He would be using several of them to draw me into a personal relationship with Him.
Each ministry experience, working in children’s and youth ministry and later in women’s ministry were preparations for me to become a deacon. I am currently in the process of becoming a deacon and I can’t imagine being in this process without the variety of ministry experience I have had.
Those are some beautiful examples of how God sees our future and guides us to it by bringing people into our lives to support and encourage us and providing us with experiences that serve as training ground for our future. However, not all of the people who come into our lives nor all of our experiences are so positive.
There have been people who have come into my life over the years and really challenged me because we didn’t get along or see eye to eye. They aren’t the ones encouraging and supporting me; they are the ones frustrating, angering and hurting me. But God is still God and He still has a plan. When I look back at some of the more painful interactions I have had, I can see in hindsight that they were preparing me for the ministry I am doing today. It is these difficult relationships that have helped soften my heart, forced me to see others through the eyes of Christ, and made me tap into the power of the Holy Spirit so I could bear good fruit.
There have also been some circumstances that on the outset didn’t seem very positive. Moving to the MIddle East with my husband and two preteen daughters was never part of my plan, but God knew it would prepare me for His plan. Nothing is the same in a different culture and we lovingly referred to Doha, Qatar as the “land of almost or not quite right”. It was this time in the Middle East that I learned to put my complete trust in the Lord and learned to practice patience in abundance.
Regardless of what relationships you find yourself in today or what circumstances you are in, know that the Lord is sovereign and knows exactly where you are and what you are going through. Sometimes the most challenging relationships are what soften the rough edges in us and the most difficult circumstances strengthen our dependence upon the Lord. What we need to remember in the midst of difficult times and tough relationships is the Lord has a plan and He will use everyone in our lives and every circumstance to prepare us for the life He created us to live.
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.
- Quote from Corrie Ten Boom’s “Hiding Place”
- Scripture from http://www.biblegateway.com