Alarms have a way of always surprising me. Last year at Sierra Vista UMC’s 50th anniversary they had a car show where I showed my 50-year old Mustang. Afterwards, they asked me to park it by one of the doors going into the Family Life Center. To start the program, they wanted me to rev-up the Mustang. I was happy to oblige! I was amused (and a little proud) when I revved up Pops III (my 1968 Mustang GT/CS) that we set off the alarm on the car next to us.

I was a little less than amused this last week when I set off the alarm at the Conference Center in Phoenix. The last person out didn’t know that I was still in the building on a ZOOM meeting. That alarm is really loud! I’ve expected that someday this would happen, and now it has! What impressed me, though, was that God made sure that I knew my code to turn it off.

When I became a D.S. there was an over-whelming amount of information given to me, including how to turn off the alarm. That was one of the pieces of info that I didn’t retain. In the last month, though, I had another incident where I was working at the office late. The cleaners were in that night and kept checking on me. They finally said that they were ready to leave, and that I could turn on the alarm. Of course, I rushed to gather up all my papers and leave first! On the way out, they showed me how to work the alarm, and how to figure out my code. When the alarm was really going off, I was relieved that I knew how to turn it off! I then called our greatly appreciated Conference Treasurer, who gave me the rest of the information that I needed to call the alarm company.

It seems to me that God has a way of preparing us for our future. Often, in ways that are hardly noticed when they are happening. When I was pondering this article, I opened a fortune cookie. It said: “Luck happens when preparation meets opportunity”. How frequently do we attribute something to luck, when it really comes from God both preparing us, and giving us opportunities?

I’m surprised by how often people fear the future. The biggest concern that I hear is that things might change. Let me put change into perspective. Change isn’t just a possibility, it’s a certainty! Other than God, nothing is going to stay the same. Is this bad? I don’t think so. Every time there is a birth (including when we were born!), the world is changed. The world is changed again with every death. God placed us into bodies that are constantly changing and gave us minds capable of expanding throughout our lives. We were placed into a world that is different every day, with no two days in all of existence being exactly alike. God didn’t create a static painting, but a dynamic, inter-related, growing, masterpiece called creation. We only get to know, and experience, a little piece of this creation. Each of us, though, have a role in this creation.

The more that I get to know people, the more convinced I am that God has a noble plan for each of us. Each of us was created uniquely, with our own set of passions and gifts. Individually we get to decide if we are going to seek, and live into, God’s plans for us. Some people decide to settle for less. Often times, settling comes out of fear of the unknown. Know up front that God’s plans for us rarely look anything like the plans we have for ourselves! If we accept that God has a plan for each of us, doesn’t it make sense that God is preparing us to live into this plan? Let’s embrace the changes happening in our lives and look for God’s possibilities.

Your brother on the journey, Mark

Further thoughts: If everything is changing, what are the chances that United Methodism is going to stay the same? This is not the time for us to settle for less than God’s most noble plans for our denomination. Everyday I hear a lot of fears. Instead of fear, let’s search together for God’s possibilities for our church!

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