one to one: Lessons about life, ministry, and grandkids!
by Keith Burden, Executive Secretary, National Association of Free Will Baptists
It was long before I owned a GPS or knew how to use MapQuest. I was a freshman in college and received an invitation to preach at a church in a small community in Arkansas. Speaking opportunities were rare in those days; I jumped at the chance.
As I recall, the trip to this preaching assignment was rather lengthy. I decided to drive to my parent’s house on Saturday since it was on the way and would put me three hours closer to my destination. I pulled out my trusty Rand McNally road atlas and calculated the best route and approximate travel time.
When I arrived home late Saturday afternoon my mom and dad said they would like to accompany me on my trip. I figured the more the merrier. We left on Sunday morning allowing time, based on my rough calculations, to arrive at the church for Sunday School. Unfortunately, I had not factored in the extra time needed to navigate the narrow, curvy roads or stop for breakfast (at my parent’s request).
At 9:45 a.m., we were nowhere close to our destination. I started getting nervous. As I drove, I managed to convince myself that missing Sunday School was no big deal considering the circumstances.
As we entered the city limits I came to a horrifying realization. I did not have directions to the church. Somehow, in my excitement over the opportunity to preach, I failed to get the church’s address.
As eleven o’clock rapidly approached, I was on the verge of panic. Frantically, I pulled in to a service station and asked the attendant for directions to the Free Will Baptist church. “Which one,” he asked. “There are three Free Will Baptist churches in this town.” My heart sank.
Regaining my composure I asked, “Which one is closest?” I hurriedly jotted down directions and sped off in hopes this was the correct location. As we drove into the church parking lot, I breathed a sigh of relief. I grabbed my Bible and rushed inside the church just in time to hear the final verse of the last congregational hymn.
I was greeted at the front door by an older gentleman. He introduced himself and asked if I was the young preacher they were expecting as their guest speaker. I nodded and said, “Yes, sir! That’s me.” I followed him down the aisle, and after a brief introduction, delivered the morning message.
So what did I take away from that experience? I discovered that Robert F. Mager was right.“If you’re not sure where you are going, you’re liable to end up someplace else.” Thankfully, in spite of my poor planning and failure to give attention to details, I managed to fulfill my responsibility.
Tragically, too many people live their lives like that. They fly by the seat of their pants and hope somehow God will bail them out when they get into a jam. Many times, those situations have a bad outcome and God, unfortunately, gets the blame.
Living by faith and careful planning need not be mutually exclusive. We should plan as though everything depends on us and pray as though everything depends on God. Remember—God, not the devil, is in the details.
About the Column: One to One is a regular feature of ONE Magazine. Written by Keith Burden, executive secretary of the National Association of Free Will Baptists, the column explores life, ministry...and grandkids!