SEPTEMBER 28, 2018

Let Go & You Know The Rest...

Dear Church,

As you have probably read or heard by now, we have accepted a call to serve The Reformed Church of Bronxville.  I’ll save my goodbyes and my gratitude for another letter. But I thought I would reflect a little bit about “God’s plan” and “God’s timing” in our lives.  As I shared on Sunday morning, Sarah and I always assumed our journey in ministry would lead us back to West Michigan.  It’s where all of Sarah’s family lives and where my mom lives. It’s where we grew up and went to school.  And honestly, going back to West Michigan is just what Reformed pastors do.  After two search processes with larger churches in West Michigan ended painfully, I began to question what God’s plan and timing was all about!  I mean, this is God’s will, right?!

Never, in a million years, did I ever think that our call in ministry would lead us to a small village ten miles outside of Manhattan. Literally, the exact same day I was told by one of the West Michigan churches that they were moving on from my candidacy, I received an email asking if I would submit my resume for an RCA congregation on the east coast.  When I told Sarah, that on a whim, I submitted my resume to a Search Committee who had reached out to me her response was, “You can do what you want, but I’m not moving to New York.”  After a Skype call which was botched, three spies who were welcomed warmly by our unsuspecting congregation, and a site visit in late July, we began to have this “Oh no, God, we prayed and we’re open to Your leading, but You’re not leading us here, are You?!”  Throughout the last five months, every time we thought a door would close, God only opened it further.  

I think a lot of times we assume that what our plan is, is what God’s plan is.  We just subconsciously think that what we want is what God wants.  And that when we pray, “God I’m open to Your leading,” that we will be led to places where we know we want to go.  If I’ve learned anything this last season of life it’s to borrow the line from Woody Allen: “If you want God to laugh, tell Him your plans.”

I know it sounds so cliché to “Let go and let God,” but friends, it’s really true!  Like seriously, it’s true.  While we are so fixed on long-term and short-term goals and our five-year plan and on dreaming about the next thing in our lives, don’t you think that often it’s when we can truly be open to the Holy Spirit that God has room to move? Go ahead and think about a time in your life.  Maybe it was a job or a relationship or a major decision that you just assumed would go a certain way because you did all “the right things” and it turned out that nothing went according to your plan.  Why is that?  My Grandpa loves to tell the story (I think I’ve heard it more than onceJ) that every job he has ever applied for he didn’t get and every job he ever got just fell on his lap.   

Could it be that when we get out of our own way that God can have the room for His plans?  Perhaps the prophet Isaiah says it best: “For your ways are not my ways and your thoughts are not my thoughts.” Undoubtedly, the last six months have been a wild, spirit-filled ride for the Waterstones.  We’ll pack and move sad to leave behind so much and so many we love, but also hopeful and excited for what new opportunities and challenges will arise. I’m not sure where you are as you read this letter.  I’m not sure what decision you have facing you or what you have been asking God for in prayer.  But I am fairly convinced that if we truly could set aside our plans, our timing, our control and truly let God lead, God will in fact lead.  It’s not a cliché.  It’s true. It’s scary, believe me, it’s scary. But it’s true.  And it’s also good.  

Grace & Peace,

Pastor Matt