“Surely I know the plans I have for you…”

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HAPPY/SAD: As per usual, there’s a lot to write about this Monday morning. Our weekends are always full, and the past two days have been no exception.

The only context for this post is worship. At the heart of who we are, Wake Forest Presbyterian is a church organized around our commitment to come together as a community and worship God. Everything else we do proceeds from that central practice.

This week Rebekah preached on “change” (because that’s what we’re in the middle of at WFPC), and she used the classic words of Jeremiah 29:10-14 as her text:

“For surely I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord, “plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope. Then when you call upon me and come and pray to me, I will hear you. When you search for me, you will find me; if you seek me with all your heart, I will let you find me, says the Lord, and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have driven you, says the Lord, and I will bring you back to the place from which I sent you into exile.”

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Lisa, Rebekah, Amy

THE GOOD WORD: It’s a remarkable passage, becoming even more so when we understand the context; then the text reaches a still higher sense of extraordinary noteworthiness when we allow God to write the words on our hearts in such a fresh and compelling way – the way we did Sunday morning.

Rebekah addressed the difficult and almost overwhelming fact that the church said goodbye to both our director of youth ministries (Amy Donahoo) and our director of children’s ministries (Lisa Baker).

Both women have been exceptional leaders and staff members, and both were facilitating growth and transformed lives. They are simply embracing new professional opportunities (Amy and her family are staying at WFPC as “regular members”, and Lisa has been called to another church).

The best way I could describe the ministries Amy and Lisa developed would be “cutting edge.”In my entire life I have never seen such vibrant, creative, imaginative, effective, engaged work with children and youth. Our church has been, and continues to be, blessed abundantly.

In my entire life I have never seen such vibrant, creative, imaginative, effective, engaged work with children and youth. Our church has been, and continues to be, blessed abundantly.

IMG_4184HOPE AND PROMISE: However, and this is where Rebekah’s message spoke to my heart, God has nothing but newness, promise, blessing, and possibility on tap for our community.

One quote Rebekah used in her message has really stuck with me: “Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or the present are certain to miss the future” (John F. Kennedy).

Amen, brother John! God is always sowing seeds of imagination and new life. Forward is the only way to go from here, and it is exactly because of the beautiful work that’s been accomplished by Amy and Lisa thus far that we don’t want to try to replace them with carbon copies.

“Don’t worry! You bet I’ve got plans for Wake Forest Presbyterian Church,” says the Lord. “I’ve got a trajectory in mind that is loaded with benefits and promise. You’re just now figuring out how to pray and I’m way ahead of you! In fact I’m already working on plans for what you have yet to imagine! Just look carefully, open your eyes, open your hearts, keep following Jesus, and you will see my way. You’re going to end up thanking me, because you’ll see how this has been just another step in the unfolding of my will. I’m going to bring you back into a future you didn’t even imagine was possible!” – My loose paraphrase of the Jeremiah passage.

“But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” – Jesus, Matthew 6:33

IMG_4199Just a side note to conclude. Saturday the church officers (elders and deacons) spent the day in a planning retreat. Many arrived a little downcast and troubled regarding these changes, tempted to look backwards, unsure of how to proceed. However, by the end of the day God had firmly planted a renewed vision for what is possible when we keep our eyes on Jesus. “For surely I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord, “plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope.”

In love, and because of love – DEREK

(Photos from worship, then Amy and Lisa’s goodbye reception….)

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