Blessings in Adaptation
Each Sunday, I wake up, load my car, and drive to Atonement. When I get there, I pull up by a small tree and unload my equipment: a battery-powered speaker, a guitar, and a couple of microphones. Others bring chairs, pass out hymnals, and prepare the bread and wine for communion. By nine o'clock, twenty or thirty of us have assembled on the lawn, ready to worship together. We hear God's word, pray together, gather at the table, and sing a closing hymn. Last week brought an extra blessing as we received new members into our congregation. We've followed this pattern for the past year, every Sunday that the weather has allowed. Next week, God willing, we'll do it again.
Of course, all of this is in response to the ongoing pandemic. There was no plan for these outdoor services. But what a blessing they have been! Through the simple weekly rhythms of our worship, God has reminded us of our need for each other, his faithfulness during difficult circumstances, and the beauty of creation. Everything extra has been stripped away, leaving only the essentials. It has been good for my soul, and many others have expressed the same. While we long to get back to "normal," there will also be a sense of loss when this season ends. It wasn't part of our plan, but God's goodness has been on full display. As the days grow colder, our opportunities to be outside become fewer, and I can't help but feel some sadness.
There are many pandemic-induced stories like this one. But examples can be found far and wide in life. When I look at my own life and the plans I've made, it's impossible to deny that God's greatest blessings have come with changes to those plans! Had I not been guided away from my own designs, I would not belong to this church at all. Similarly, my marriage, my job, my education - all have resulted from surrendering my goals to God's better purposes. That's not to say the process has been easy! I'm a bit of a control freak and like sticking to my plan. Adapting can sometimes be difficult and painful, and it's all too easy to doubt in those moments.
And yet, time and time again, God has proven faithful. His plans are not my plans, but they are better than mine. Adapting isn't always easy, but it's an opportunity to lean in, get out of my own head, and trust that there are purposes beyond my own. And resting in that truth may be the greatest blessing of them all. So we'll worship outdoors when we can and take the next twist or turn when it comes. It may not be what we have in mind, but it will be what we need most.
Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the LORD that will stand.
-Proverbs 19:21 (English Standard Version)