“See, I am sending an angel ahead of you to guard you along the way and to bring you to the place I have prepared. Exodus 23:20

One of the first sermons I ever preached was based on Exodus 23:20 and following verses. The sermon “I Go Before You” spoke to the lesson each of us must learn. Our God is not a God of surprise, he is a God of plan and implementation of plans. We may be surprised, worried, shocked or full of anxiety, HE is not.

A dear blogging friend of mine, Kate Kresse, recently posted a question for her readers “What kind of year are you having? (http://believeanyway.wordpress.com/2012/11/15/what-kind-of-year-are-you-having-changes-or-staying-the-course/). That entry became the impetus for my own thinking over the past year.

Were I to be forced to summarize the past year with a view to the future my response would be something like the announcer at an amusement park ride. “Please keep your hands and feet inside the vehicle at all times and remain seated until the ride comes to a complete stop.”

January 2012 was difficult for myself and my family, or so I thought. The position I held at a local Retreat Center was on the ropes. Budget cuts and financial concerns put all of us staff on edge. While I didn’t lose my job, my hours were drastically cut to the point that made it financially impossible to stay, but the small income was better than nothing so I stayed on as I looked for something better.

The latter part of January and early February I began to notice a definite downturn in my Father’s health. Nothing any of us could put our finger on. Increased fatigue, poor eyesight, weakness. At 84 Dad was just getting tired…or so we thought. February 11, 2012 Dad suffered a stroke. Further testing revealed cancer had spread throughout his body. For the next six weeks I was either at his side in the hospital, the nursing home or, eventually, hospice.

Dad joined my mom, two brothers and a nephew in heaven just 13 days after his 85th birthday. Dad was my best friend, my ministry consultant and my walking, talking Bible Scholar. Even after his stroke, while he was still strong enough, our discussions were over ministry, people, prayer and God’s amazing grace. Dad’s life verse was Romans 8:28, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Anyone who knew Pastor Max knew his life verse. Period.

While I stood by my Dad’s deathbed, the rest of life went on. Looking back I was tremendously blessed to have the job I had as my hours at work could be done on a laptop in a hospital room during Dad’s naps, which grew longer every day.

I took a job at a Department store. Great company, good people, hated the job. Even there I saw God’s handiwork. When they offered me the job and I explained my situation, they held off my start date until after the funeral.

I digress a bit. February 16, just days after Dad’s stroke, I was asked to do pulpit supply at a tiny little Lutheran Church. I’m divorced. I have a criminal background (not a long story…a book) and had all but given up on ministry. This little church offered a call to my family in July, 2012.

This wonderful Zion church family walked me through Dad’s death, accepted my flaws and encouraged me to press on. Every week I walk into that sanctuary and say thank you. Thank you Jesus for showing me that your angel did indeed go before me.

Since July I have not only had the opportunity to teach God’s word (no better job) but have had an increase in my bookings as a motivational/inspirational speaker. I have no idea what lay ahead. I only know that as long as I follow after my God, the plan is already laid, the path is hewn. All I need to do is stay seated until the ride comes to a complete stop.

Thanks Kate for inspiring me to write this. Although we’ve never met on earth, we will someday on the other side. God Bless.

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