David Kilpatrick is a long time friend of mine. We taught and coached together in south Georgia at my first school. David is still teaching and living in Texas. He will share some wonderful thoughts today and tomorrow.
The song says, “God moves in a mysterious way, His wonders to perform.” God has spent a lifetime – mine – allowing me to see the wisdom, and awesomeness, of that thought.
I had my life all planned. I would go to college, find a wife, have a family, and preach. It was all laid out, except for one little thing. It was my plan, not God’s. The college thing went fine, except the part about finding the wife. That affected the job prospects, since most churches will not hire single preachers. That also had an impact on the part about being a dad, since a wife is required for that, too. It was frustrating, and there were times when I bit hard on the bitter apple of disillusionment. I wondered why the Lord gave me the talent people said I had, but not the opportunity.
It was not all bad, of course. I fell into teaching, mostly by a fluke, and found out I enjoyed it and was good at it. (A side benefit to that was meeting Steve, who helped me through my first two years of teaching, when I was clueless, and became an admired and respected friend along the way. Talk about a master teacher.) However, I was sure I was supposed to be preaching, so I went back at it for a few more years. I kept looking for that wife, too.
Finally, I gave it up. I went back to school, got my teaching credentials, and started in the public school system I grew up in. When a friend asked, I told him I was ready to be single and be happy serving God on my own. No more looking for a wife. By the way, did I mention that when I left Abilene with my masters, I said I would never go back to live in Texas?
Two weeks after telling my friend I was ready to be single the rest of my life, I was introduced to the woman I am now married to. Guess where she lives, and I now do, too. You got it; Texas. A few years after we got married, I had the chance to preach for a few years for a small congregation.
While there, we became foster parents, and had, among several other children, three siblings who stole our hearts. Our hearts were broken when they were sent back to the terrible situation they grew up in. After three years, and a move, we went back into teaching, gave up foster parenting, and gave away the baby things we had held onto in case they came back. A month later, they came back into care, along with a brother born in the interim, and this time, we were able to adopt them.
So here I am. I have preached, and still get to do so on an occasional basis, while getting to teach, which I also enjoy. I have a wonderful wife, and I have four children I love dearly. In fact, I have the life I planned. The fact that it all has happened thirty years later than I expected is where the mysterious ways come in. God knew when I would be ready, and He knew when someone would need me. Most importantly, along the way, I have learned to wait for Him and His time, because I know my Father knows best. Of course, if I had listened closely, He had already told me that was the case long ago.
"Seek the LORD while he may be found,
call upon him while he is near;
let the wicked forsake his way,
and the unrighteous man his thoughts;
let him return to the LORD,
that he may have mercy on him,
and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.
For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways, says the LORD.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.
Isaiah 55: 6-9