This will be my last post before I head to Phoenix on Sunday for the start of the SBC Aspire Pastor’s Conference and the Annual Meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention. I’ll be posting regular updates from Phoenix beginning Monday morning. I’m not sure that I’ll be “live blogging” per se, but check back often throughout next week for my take on the goings-on at this year’s event. With the number of messengers making the trip to Phoenix maybe one of the lowest on record, that doesn’t necessarily mean that it will be a dull Convention. (SBC Phoenix: Grassroots Voices Speak Out!)
Famous last words before heading to Phoenix! Coming off the highest weekly readership to date for From Law to Grace, I just knew that the SBC Pastor’s Conference and Annual Meeting would be a big week for blog posts and an even bigger week for blog views. Instead, it turned into a big bust! At least as far as blogging is concerned.
While I had my plans all figured out for what I thought would transpire in Phoenix, I failed to remember that my plans — however well-intentioned — will never trump God’s plans. Such was the hard and humbling lesson of Phoenix 2011. I was vividly reminded of the Words of the Book of James:
Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit” yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. (James 4:13-16, ESV)
And, just how did God choose to remind me of this Biblical truth? Through one of the worst — if not worst — stomach bugs that I have ever had in my entire life. About 2 hours into the seven hour drive to Phoenix on Sunday, I began to think that the Wendy’s Double Burger was not agreeing with me. Needless to say, I’m not sure that I will ever look at a Wendy’s Burger in quite the same way after this experience.
Not wanting to miss the action, I somehow made myself get out of bed on Monday morning and drive down to the Convention Center. I made my way to the Registration Booth and become official (now New Mexico can count me, even if I wasn’t in attendance). After listening to sermons by Darrin Patrick and Bartholomew Orr (both solid), my body told me it was time to go back to the hotel. Maybe some rest would cure whatever was ailing me.
After a fitful Monday afternoon, I got up and headed to the Hyatt Regency for a meeting of the SBC Conservatives (more on that next week). But, at the 6:30 p.m. mark, my Roberto Duran finally took over and said, “no mas!” With that, I was done for the rest of the week. As I write this on Thursday evening, I can say that this has been one of the longest weeks of my life. But, in the midst of it all, God is still good, all the time!
I do not know why the Lord’s will for my life while in Phoenix was different from mine. Was I disappointed to not make any of the Convention and only a brief period of the Pastor’s Conference? Yes. But, I know there is a reason that I have had the week that I have had. Maybe it was just to remind me that my life is in God’s hands and His purposes will prevail. Perhaps this week was about remembering what is truly precious in life — faith, family, and health — while recognizing that blogging and attending SBC meetings are not eternal.
As a Pastor, I often confront folks whose lives are not going according to their plans. A devastating loss, a dreaded disease, a failed marriage, a financial disaster. I wish that I had all the answers to the why questions, but, just like with my sickness in Phoenix, I do not. I do know this though — that if it’s the Lord’s will for your life or my life, then it is for our ultimate best. It may not seem like it now, but I believe God’s Word is true:
And we know that for those who love God ALL things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose. (Romans 8:28 ESV)
Phoenix didn’t turn out like I had planned. That’s okay. In the end, I’ll take God’s will for my life because His will is always perfect and mine rarely is. A good lesson learned, although not how I would have liked to have learned it. In any event, I am finally blogging from Phoenix. And, Lord willing, I’ll blog again starting next week. Until then, always know that God is good, all the time; all the time, God is good!