I joked with the people at the housewarming party Saturday night, as we were leaving, "This was so much fun! Bill doesn't let me out of the house much!" We don't go out much- that's true- but more because we are homebodies and just don't get invited out that much.
But this was an elegant dessert social we were invited to, at a couple's house who were revitalizing an old house with a million rooms in it. As we toured the house and saw their progress, seeing some rooms painted and decorated, and other rooms in transition, we were almost salivating at the possibility of doing a project like this. In another time, we would have looked at each other and read each other's mind- "Let's go get us one of these and start work!"
We used to renovate houses, live in them a bit, and sell them. It was a good plan, for approximately ten years, when we first left pastoral ministry and Bill didn't know what to do for a living. We had not wanted to leave full time ministry, but going into old churches with fixed values of "just be there in the town"- that wasn't going to be our plan for the church we would lead. God's plan is for life, and life more abundantly- and for new life preached to those who walk in old patterns of decay and denial. After ten years of trying to "bring renewal" we were led out of full time ministry, by God.
At the party, at one point, Bill and I were sipping punch, sitting in this elegant sitting room with a chaise angled in the middle of the room, a deer's head looking out at us from the wall, exotic deep red painted walls around us. Some people came in, sat with us, started talking about nothing in particular. More people were milling around, and a few others walked in. Soon we got talking about what were our experiences in the church, what we were reading.
I shared about the book I'm reading Right People, Right Place, Right Plan by Jentezen Franklin. I was excitedly sharing how fascinating it was to learn of all the scriptures concerning being with the right people (or avoiding "bad company" which "corrupts good character"), the right place (Go to the brook Cherith, God told Elijah, and THERE God would provide for Elijah), and the right plan.
"I can't tell you too much about how to know the right plan for your life because I'm just getting to that section of the book!" I told them. But I know this book IS the right book for me to be reading right now- of that I'm sure!
I've already been sharing with my niece about how to know the right people to be with. We've been talking on the phone a lot lately. And not only are accounts from the book coming to my mind, but other things I've read, and other experiences I've had are coming back to me. Its a lot to think about.
The right people- The Dream Giver, by Bruce Wilkinson, deals with this pivotal person in the first half of the book which is an allegory. Ordinary, the main character, is traveling onward with God. He wants to live out his dream. He gets to a place where he can't go any further and he could be at the end of his rope, so to speak. But a guy named "Champion" leaves him a boat with oars in it at the edge of the river, with a note in the boat that says, "I thought you might need this". (Maybe you see why I have my blog address- Champion your dreams?!)
The right people always help you cross your raging river of confusion. The right people do not stumble you. Instead they help make a way possible for you to progress. The right people are people of peace- internal peace and wholeness- and if you "stay with them" you're okay. They will receive you- receive who you are, your ministry, Luke 10:6,7 tells us.
Franklin recounts this verse in his book. It's an excellent verse to ponder -"You ran well. Who hindered you from obeying the truth?" Galatians 5:7
We get hindered by a lot of things in this world. We can stumble about like a drunk in the street if we are filled with confusion because of conflicting voices, viewpoints, and values that we have received from others. The right people do not hinder you in your walk or add confusion to your life. Instead, they- because they are people of peace- help bring about peace to your inner, raging waters. More than likely they know what it is to wrestle through strongholds, deal with their inner demons of the past, and have come out into that land of abundance (Psalm 66) and don't ever want to have anything to do with shame, confusion, despair, and bondage- again. SO they will not do anything to intentionally cause these things in your life.
They know the truth that "He who the Son sets free is free indeed"and they walk in the liberty of the Holy Spirit. Not perfectly. Not arrogantly. But gratefully and with a recollection of the past- enough so that they want to avoid anything that would cause them to return to their past of regret and shame.
I married the right person. Not a perfect person (and boy, do I let my husband know that!!) But he is the right person for me. God showed me that 23 years ago. I realize more and more how grateful I am that God showed me how to "connect" with someone who would help change my life for the better- instead of taking me in circles, spiraling me downward.
My best friend is the right person to be called my "best friend"- I have not suffered harm from her counsel, her perspective, her challenging me to live out my dreams. We have laughed and cried together- and have been choosy when it comes to the places get to enjoy our patronage. After all, we are women who are looking for the right place to get together and challenge each other onward. As for the right plan we each should follow, we are pursuing that. We don't want to miss that.
So as I talk with my niece, lately, I realize these three things are so pivotal in our lives: connecting with the right people, being in the right place at the right time, and knowing that GOD has a plan for our life- even if we don't have the full picture of what that is yet.
The right person, at this time in your life, could be the person who brings you good news from afar- the message of the Good News from God that you are going to be okay. All is well.
The right person for you to hang out with in this season of your life had better be a person who will not stumble you, make you fall. You've fallen enough on your own without someone else helping you go down.
And if you're considering the person who you should marry- think long and hard about the type of person he or she is: do they KNOW the plans that God has for them- that they are good, healthy, and of a higher sort than those they could come up with on their own? Do they know you are a precious being who should be loved and helped- because that's what God desires for you, and God's plan is "not to harm you, but to give you a hope and a future"? (Jeremiah 29)
I'm in a lovely honeymoon season with my husband right now- we are in sync, and laughing a lot, and his muscles have grown big from heavy labor- and that doesn't look too bad to me! But even when we are in a dark season of friction and power struggles and miscommunication, I can look at him and be mad at him, and frustrated with him- but still know he was the right person for me to marry.
That was something that I did cry out to God over twenty three years ago- "God let me know who I should marry." I did not trust my own judgment. I knew I was prone to changing my mind, choosing the lesser instead of the greater thing God had in mind. I'm remembering, now, how it was hard to walk into the commitment to marry with the weight of knowing that I had asked God to choose for me- and did I trust Him to choose well? I can say with assurance, He most certainly did.
But on so many days of my life, where I forget to ask God who I should be talking with, where I should be, what His plan is, I mistakenly put myself back in the driver's seat- and run straight into a wall. Then, bruised or battered a bit, I'll slide out of the seat with a sheepish grin, turn it over to God, and say with conviction,
"Okay, God- now, let's go onward."