This week I invite you to listen to my original song “I Will Love You ” for your enjoyment as you read this week’s blog.

On Christmas Day Terese and I boarded a plane for a week in Minnesota to be with our family for the holidays. We planned to spend a quiet week celebrating Christmas with them as well as re-connecting with relatives and friends. By the grace of God, our entire family would be together, including our daughter Annie who had been studying abroad for several months. We spent a couple of golden days in the north woods of Minnesota with our children, their spouses, a friend, Grandma Jan, and our four grandchildren at Grandma’s beautiful log home. Even though a polar vortex brought record cold to the area, we cherished each moment with our family, as well as the calm stillness of the snow-covered woods.

But our plans suddenly changed.  John Lennon once wrote, “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.”  In a sense he —probably unknowingly— paraphrased a verse from the Book of Proverbs:

“Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.

Proverbs 19:21

During dinner on the third night of our time back in Minnesota, we received word that Terese’s grandfather Wendell— the beloved patriarch of her family—had passed away at age 98. We had planned on seeing him when we returned to the Twin Cities two days later.

Instead, over the holiday weekend, we gathered with Terese’s family, and I was asked to plan, officiate, and speak at his funeral.

Our holiday plans were changed and in my heart I knew God was in control. He called Grandpa Wendell home at a time when the entire family could be together to mourn his passing and celebrate his life on earth and new life with God. In fact, all of Terese’s extended family was able to be together for a moving and beautiful service in which God’s presence was strongly felt.

God continues to remind me that a life given over to Him in worship must always be attentive and responsive to His call to answer the needs and opportunities that come to us.

For the true Christ-follower ministry is not what we choose to do, but what God puts before us to do.

That week we also received word that Al—Terese’s uncle by marriage— had died. It was my privilege to record a song to be played at his funeral that took place after I returned to Florida. Even with the additional ministry responsibilities associated with these funerals, Terese and I were able to gather with my extended family for a holiday event and meet with dear friends. I even had a memorable dinner with someone that I am excited to write more about in the future.

The Bible is filled with stories of people who had their plans altered by God, and the results were “eternity-changers.” In Acts Chapter 8 a man named Philip changed his travel plans because of a prompting from God. As he continued to listen to and obediently follow God’s directions, Phillip encountered an Ethiopian man whose eternity was forever changed because he spent time with Him telling him the Good News of Jesus Christ and even baptizing him.

God continues to do this today—in your life and mine. I pray that the coming year will lead us to a deeper relationship with God, one that leads us to people and places that might not be in our human plans but have always been part of God’s purpose.

For Christ-followers, ministry is not simply what we choose, but what God puts before us to do

God bless you!

Chris Atkins