March 25, 2017

Numbers 27:15-17 Moses said to the Lord, “May the Lord, the God of the spirits of all mankind, appoint a man over this community to go out and come in before them, one who will lead them out and bring them in, so that the Lord’s people will not be like sheep without a shepherd.”

It was very clear to Moses that he didn’t have a lot longer on this earth, which is hardly surprising since he was well past 100, and he was concerned for a successor. He realized, as has been said, that there is no success without a successor. What strikes me here is that he sought the Lord over the issue, rather than automatically assuming it would be Joshua. As it turned out, Joshua was indeed the one the Lord had in mind, but Moses wasn’t going to presume. That’s very wise! We use all sorts of criteria in choosing people, from mates to golf partners. Those aren’t necessarily wrong or bad, but the more important the decision, the more important it is to seek God’s voice in the matter. Actually, no detail of our lives is beneath God’s notice, (Luke 12:7) so the wisest course is to be listening to God all the time. That doesn’t mean we aren’t to use our heads, but it does mean we are to submit our wills to Him, knowing that He always has the best idea. Sometimes God’s choices will surprise us, but we must not let that stand in the way of our obedience. In my experience, sometimes I don’t think something could be God’s will because it’s what I want so badly! That’s as foolish as failing to ask Him in the first place. God indeed works in us both to will and to do His good pleasure, (Philippians 2:13) so the longer we walk with Him, the more trustworthy our own impulses become. Even so, like Moses we must not presume on big issues, but humbly and actively seek Him.

My life has certainly had hits and misses in this area. The choice of a wife was a huge hit, even though I wasn’t really walking close to the Lord at the time. I wrote my parents the day after our first real date that I had found the girl I wanted to marry, and before I could get their reply, we placed a collect call to them to announce our engagement. That was 48 years ago, so I think I got my directions right! As a pastor, the matter of a successor has been a real concern, particularly since we are a small, non-denominational/independent congregation. However, over the years the Lord has raised up through me people who are pastoring other congregations, so I haven’t been too worried. In recent years I have thought it was maybe this person, and then maybe that person, but in each case the Lord made it clear He had other plans for them. Right now I do have a formally ordained assistant pastor, who is humbly and sacrificially dedicated to the Lord and to this congregation. I have real peace with that, but even so God has the final word, whenever and however He takes me out of this congregation. My success, and my successor, are in His hands.

Father, thank You for Your gracious guidance and provision. Help me walk in full obedience, not presuming but actively listening to You, so that all of Your plans may be fulfilled on Your schedule for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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