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When something we are hoping for is in accordance with God’s will, then in God’s time that hope will be fulfilled. God’s time can be just a few minutes or hours in the future. It can be a few months or a year from now. Or it can be years away. Here’s a recent example from my own experience.
About 13 years ago, in 2000, I was inspired to write a book which would be a testimony about how God does extraordinary things with ordinary people like me, just an ordinary guy from Jersey City. This would be a memoir of my life. It’s purpose would not to point to what I had done or become, but what God had done with me.
The inspiration to write this story came to me early in my service as pastor at Vincentown United Methodist Church, when I began to realize it was an extraordinary thing for an ordinary person like me to have become the pastor of that church. Or to have become a pastor at all. And to realize that while I couldn’t accomplish the things I wanted to be done in terms of changing the church and the world, God was using me to fulfill His work, His way, in His time.
It turned out that I didn’t get very far writing this book. I was too busy being a pastor. I put it aside, saying that I was going to start again as soon as I retired, somewhere in the next ten years. I formally retired in 2006. But I ended up saying yes to a request to serve as part-time pastor of a small church, and took on a part-time job as Northeast Region Representative for Walk to Emmaus. So once again I put aside writing the book, promising that when I was done with all of that, I would get on with the writing. in 2010 I resigned from those positions. I was now what I call fully retired. No more excuses.
I began writing my memoir. However, I also got involved in other projects that I wanted to pursue. I arranged a weekly schedule for myself, dividing my time between a number of projects, including my memoir. A number of times I rearranged my schedule, since I wasn’t getting much done. Each week I was doing “a little bit of this and a little bit of that”. For the next three years, in my annual Christmas letter to friends and family, I announced that next year I would be publishing the book. But that didn’t happen.
Recently, as I was trying to discern God’s will about this book, God reminded me of something I already knew. During whatever time I had left to live in this world, I was never going to get done all the projects and activities I was hoping to accomplish. In fact, I wold never even get started on some of them. It wasn’t that over the past 13 years I had not done anything with the book. Actually, I had completed a first draft. I was also reminded that completing and publishing this book was the priority that God had given me. I understood that this meant that rather than divide my time among a number of projects and getting just a little done on some of them, I had to devote all my time to complete the writing and publishing of this book – by the end of this year. That is my hope, and I believe it is God’s will. Therefore, I believe that God is giving me all the time I need to complete this project. With this confidence in God, three weeks ago I made a list of what I had to do to complete and publish this book this year. I was inspired to do three things toward that end over the next three weeks:
* Week 1 – Complete the writing of the 2nd draft. Done
* Week 2 – Make a decision on publishing. Done (self-publish as an e-book on my own web-site)
* Week 3 – Set up a new web-site. Done
At the end of each of these three weeks I thanked God for fulfilling my hopes, week by week.
There is more to do. Final details on the manuscript, customize and open the web-site, and publish on the web-site. I am convinced that God has been and is fulfilling my hopes concerning this project.
God reminded me of one more thing I already knew. From time to time I have questioned the purpose of this book. Will anyone ever read it? Will it make any difference to anyone? The answer I have gotten is, just listen to and obey God, and God will see that the results serve someone’s need, even if it is just my family, descendants, and close friends. Too many people, while they might not admit it, see themselves as so ordinary that they don’t make any difference in the world. If just a few of them realize, through reading my testimony, that God has plans to use them to make a difference, even if they don’t ever see the results. Someone will. So I believe that this will make a difference in someone’s life, and they will open themselves to becoming the people God created them to be. If God can do this with an ordinary guy from Jersey City, God can and will do this for anyone.
Grace and peace, Ray Gough
P.S. We will announce the availability of this book, which will be free to everyone as soon as the new web-site is opened to the public.
Thanks for your attention. We look forward to hearing your comments about our web-site. We also invite you to send us stories of your experiences and observations of present hopes and hope fulfilled, so we can spread them around the world via this web-site. This is one way we can all join together to help keep hope alive.
May God be with you,
Patty Perez and Ray Gough