…sometimes we have to change our plans. Our ways are not His ways. Our thoughts are not His thoughts. And when God chooses to answer our prayers, sometimes it comes with unanticipated results.
The weekend plans for FBC, Temple, had been in the planning stages for more than 6 months. It was to be a great and glorious celebration. This week was our annual Mission Temple emphasis when our church reached out to the community in love, support, and service. One of those service items was a community prayer trail. For the past 6 months many had been working on it as a service to the people in our community as a place to walk in nature and spend time in prayer. Consisting of more than 7 stops, these were carefully selected and built to offer a place of tranquility. On Saturday night we were to dedicate the prayer trial.
We had secured a tent that would seat 600. The tent had been rented from the Aquilla and Priscilla Tent Co. No joke! Tables for 300 and chairs for 500 had been assembled and set up. Everything had been carefully planned and executed down to the flowers and pumpkins placed on the stage under the tent. Tx Baptist Men had come from San Angelo to prepare a BBQ beef and sausage dinner for the entire assembly. Following the dedication on Saturday night, the plan was to have a joint service combining the 3 services that meet weekly under the tent on the new property. It was the first meeting of this kind on our piece of God-given land. What a great time we had planned. Oh, there was one other small element; we have been praying for rain for the past 6 months. Texas is under one of it’s most severe drought seasons and we’ve desperately needed rain.
The rain began forming out in West Texas. The forecast was for Temple to receive less than a half an inch over a two day period. Not to worry! The ground would have soaked that up as it fell. Plans went into full swing. People began gathering prior to the dedication time of 5:00 PM on Saturday. We had quite a crowd.
Right in the middle of the dedication, a dear member leaned over to me from across the crowd and got my attention. “Call 911” was her whispered comment. Having a recent heart condition, I knew this was serious. I stepped out from the crowd and called 911. The dedication proceeded without a hitch. That is until the moment a staff member was to lead in prayer. At that very moment, as if on cue, up pulls the bright red firetruck with lights ablaze and siren blaring. The truck pulled up to a halt within 20 feet of the group with everyone standing wide eyed, looking at the firemen getting out of their truck and wondering why they had just pulled up in the middle of the dedication.
The group was dismissed to walk down the trail as the firemen and EMTs did their work. In a few short minutes, the dedication prayer was given, the ambulance came and left with our dear friend, and the firemen decided to stay for dinner. Oh yes, and it had begun to sprinkle. A little rain here and there on the property, but nothing to be concerned about. After all, we were standing on parched land!
Sometime in the night it began to rain harder. Actually, according to the wonderful servant spending the night under the 6000sf tent, it began raining at 2:47AM. And it didn’t stop. I received the call at 6:11AM on Sunday morning that the tent was beginning to take in water on the sides and our servant had gotten his car stuck up to it’s axle in mud. “It’s like quicksand out here,” was the comment over the phone. Needless to say, comments like that will wake one up in a hurry! I called my friend, Jonathan, another staff member, and told him about the problem. He said that he didn’t think it was that bad but we decided to meet out on the property to check it out. When I left just a few minutes later, it was pouring rain. As I drove out to the property, I noticed that there was standing water on the roadside and in the pastures. Before I got there, Jonathan called me. “I’m stuck,” he said, “don’t bring your car up on the land. We don’t need another one in the mud.”
The first stages of daylight were just beginning to break. With the rain, however, it was still very dark and still pouring water from the heavens. I parked my car on some gravel and quickly changed into my boots. I sloshed through mud and water up to my ankles. Most of the steps I took in the mud moved up to the top of my boots. I found Jonathan in his truck, in the middle of the land, tires sitting several inches deep in the slick goo. We stood outside in the pouring rain and talked, laughing like it was a glorious sight. Actually, it was. But we had work to do.
The plan had been for the entire congregation to be on the land in just a couple of hours. All of our equipment was already set up inside the tent. There was no way to get it out. We had to make a change. Phone calls were made, new plans decided, and we went into action.
At 10:30AM on Sunday our joint service was held Downtown. Standing room only was available with every chair and spot used. It was a glorious time together as the community of faith raised their voices and hearts together in praise of the One who had blessed us in so many ways. We counted our blessings. 138 acres bought and paid for in less than 3 years. The opening of the Community Prayer Trail. Growth happening on all our campuses and in all of our services. Young children once again filling our rooms. And rain. Lots of it. In some places in the close area around the property, more than 4 inches were recorded. Truly, God had blessed us.
Was the weekend just like we had planned. No. Was it glorious and perfect? Absolutely. God showered us not only with rain, but with blessings in abundance. As He did that we had to change plans. But that often happens.
I was reminded once again that God moves in mysterious ways. He chooses to answer prayer at times that causes us to adjust. We may have to adjust our thinking, our plans, our actions, our beliefs, our agenda. But I’m also thankful to be a part of answered prayer. I wonder what I’ll have to adjust in the future?