On Faith: Learning to trust GodA friend and fellow pastor told me about their Senior Recognition Sunday, held this past June for the graduating seniors from their church. My friend had focused his service in terms of preaching and prayers around this event, and it worked perfectly, except for one thing-- no graduating seniors showed up! In the swirl of events, and for a variety of reasons, none of them were able to attend and no one was aware of it. Which can only mean-- it’s time for plan B!
By: Susan Berge, pastor, Knife River Lutheran Church, Lake County News Chronicle
A friend and fellow pastor told me about their Senior Recognition Sunday, held this past June for the graduating seniors from their church. My friend had focused his service in terms of preaching and prayers around this event, and it worked perfectly, except for one thing-- no graduating seniors showed up! In the swirl of events, and for a variety of reasons, none of them were able to attend and no one was aware of it. Which can only mean-- it’s time for plan B!
My congregation in Knife River planned for a worship service outdoors in our beautiful memorial garden on this past June 24. The heavy rains and flooding on June 19 and 20 caused problems for many in Knife River and our church garden was also left in need of clean-up and repair. The service and sermon were already planned around an outdoors setting, but Mother Nature had other things in mind. Once again, it was time for plan B.
So often in life, we carefully plan an event ( or sequence of events) only to have our plans go astray. As Robert Burns, the Scottish poet, wrote, “The best laid plans of mice and men gang aft agley”, and he was right! I once saw a mug with the motto, “The most important thing in life is how you handle plan B.” I see a great deal of truth in that sentiment as well. Because so much that impacts our plans is simply beyond our control, we always need to be ready to roll with the punches, to adjust and to adapt, to handle plan B. Or even plan C or D, sometimes.
We can experience much anxiety in our efforts to control all that happens around us and to rigidly stick to our plan A. Certainly that has been true for me and a sizable portion of my spiritual journey has been learning to “let go and let God.” There’s no point in trying harder to control the variables that are out of our hands; it’s just not possible! Wisdom comes in trusting that God is always in the mix, and that God has a way of bringing order and good out of confusion, chaos, the unplanned and the unexpected.
We had a robin’s nest in our back yard this summer, and we took great delight in seeing the process of nest building, egg laying and sitting, and finally, the feeding of the baby birds. Then it was time for them to leave the nest! The first three seemed to get the hang of this fairly quickly, but a fourth fledgling robin remained in the nest, sitting on the edge of it, peering out into the world. I certainly could relate to what I imagined that bird was thinking: “It’s a perilous world out there, I can’t control all that happens. Wouldn’t I be safer in the nest?” Again, it comes down to trust—trust that God’s way will unfold in the colorful jumble of the world and our lives, even though we can’t control everything as we might like. God is in charge; therein is the basis of our confidence and trust. Because as people of faith, we need to leave the nest-- even if plan A doesn’t seem to work out properly-- in order to experience life, to serve our neighbor and to glorify God. Learning to trust God to make a way forward for us is a lifelong component of our spiritual journey and Christian walk.
Pastor Susan Berge serves at Knife River Lutheran Church. They have another garden worship planned for this Sunday, and she hopes it doesn’t rain this time around!