Wednesday, August 25, 2010

God of Details

(God is much better at details than I am. I began this entry 3 weeks ago. That is the last time I have had the time/opportunity/energy to write. It has been a wild few weeks with all sorts of things happening. This entry will give you some idea of the flow of events. Add to this three weekends of speaking engagements, two ordinations, five groups of visitors, three flat tires in two days but not missing an appointment, and a skills development program running at Chigodi and you have an idea of the way God has been working out the details of life here.)

I never cease to be amazed at God’s care of the details in the seemingly small things of life, but the things that make up the bulk of what we deal with day to day. These are the things that make a significant difference in how things ultimately work out. These last few weeks, I have seen God work in the details again and again.

Two weeks ago I had to go to Malose, north of Zomba, to pick up a visitor who was visiting with one of our pastors in that Presbytery. I decided that on the way back, since I had the time and the opportunity, I would stop at the retreat center that I had booked for the ordinands’ retreat. These are the young pastors who will be ordained in August. We have a retreat for them to orient them to the policies and procedures of the Synod and to ministry. Their wives are included, since they are in ministry with them. This is a particularly large class of ordinands, to help address the shortage of pastors in the Synod – 27 new ministers. So with their wives and the facilitators of the retreat, we number 60. Finding affordable accommodations for such a group here in Malawi can be a challenge, so I was grateful to have booked one of our CCAP retreat facilities and I wanted to double check the details. When I arrived, the director was distracted. Finally he said that we did not have a booking. He said he had sent someone to the synod to tell someone that they had double booked and could not host us. There were no identifications of the “some ones” who were involved in this notification, but I was not one of them and I was the one responsible. I would not have known this if I had not stopped to check on the details.

I drove home praying. I wasn’t certain where to turn to find new accommodations with just 2 weeks’ notice. I called my good friend Silas Ncozana, who is the director of the synod youth center and asked him if there were any hope of Likhubula House being available. He gave me the program director’s number and I phoned, explaining my dilemma. She hesitated but said she would get back to me. She called the next morning to say that she thought she might be able to work it out. I had to go to Mulanje for a meeting that afternoon, so I left a bit early to go and talk to her in person. God used this gracious person to provide a venue for the retreat. We had to make a few adjustments – men’s dorms and women’s dorms instead of couples lodging together, but this would work for just these few days. She offered to shift a few things around to make the arrangements comfortable for all. I could only praise God for the details that had come together to make this possible. And it is a much nicer facility at a much better cost. God is so good at details.

On Sunday, I had to go north again for a meeting and planned to stop and give to schedule of events to one of the facilitators, a senior pastor who does not have access to the internet. We had talked on the phone and made arrangements to meet, but he was coming down from another meeting and we were struggling to make connections. I stopped at the junction to his house to phone one more time, hoping we might connect this time. As I was dialing the phone, a young couple who had just gotten out of a mini bus crossed the road and approached the car. I recognized the young man as one of the elders from the pastor’s congregation and one of the individuals who will be traveling to Pittsburgh in September. I needed to check with him on a few things but had not been able to get in touch with him. Here he was and I had done nothing to make this happen. I was not able to reach the pastor, but my young friend told me he would be seeing him a bit later, so he took the schedule and the information to him. This was better than I could have arranged.

As I continued on my trip, I wondered at the timing and the details that only God could have arranged. I am humbled by God’s details again and again. I know I shouldn’t be, but I always am.