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Last week I heard a radio presenter jokingly asking if he could get a refund on his 2020 calendar, because he hadn’t been able to use it? We have heard of so many plans that have had to been either changed or just completely forgotten. From trips to different places, to life changing events such as weddings, there can’t be anybody that hasn’t had to change their plans in one way or another.
We would all probably agree that plans are important, how else will we know where to be and who we should be there with, if we don’t make plans? They enable us to a large extent to map out the future, they help us to have some structure in our lives and in part they allow us to be in control of what we do. Some are big plans that impact on many people, some are plans that shape the future direction in which we would like to travel and others are smaller and more personal which might change the way I do things. Whichever it is, someone, or more often myself, is in charge, or so I think.
Then along comes something that makes us have to change our plans. We are more used to them being small things that don’t last very long, in fact the majority of them are temporary and are soon forgotten when ‘normal’ service is resumed. But just recently our whole lives have been turned upside down. The focus of our attention has changed and now for most we have different priorities. It also changes the way in which we do things.
Being involved in the Formation Programme for the Permanent Diaconate, we had been planning for the men in formation to either receive their conferral of minor ministries as lector and acolyte, or for three to be ordained as deacons. Everything has gone on hold until the situation changes, but it does give us an opportunity to reflect on where we are. Right from the start of the process, candidates get used to hearing the phrase, “when you are ordained – God willing!” And this serves to remind us all that the decision for who is called to service in the Church, isn’t ultimately down to any of us, but is determined by God Himself, and merely facilitated by those charged with this role.
This doesn’t only apply to those in ordained ministry, but to everybody in the Church. To those with formal roles and also to all the baptised who live out their faith in the world they are in. God’s plan has a place and a role for each and everyone of us. But the interesting part is that we are all given the choice to be part of the plan or not. Perhaps the scary part is that we don’t know what the plan is, where it is going to lead us, who it will involve and what we will be asked to do.
So I have to ask myself, am I able to relinquish my need for control sufficiently, for God to use me as an effective part of His plan? Or, do I want to be in charge?
I have to admit that I find the blank calendar a bit of a challenge. What will the future bring – I don’t know. I pray for the grace and ability to put my trust in God, that we can all be part of His plan.
As the saying goes – ‘If you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans!’
Deacon Ian Black