This last weekend offered an easy case study of doing the right thing at the right time, though I confess I wobbled in decision-making.
Many months ago I planned to attend the 2009 Evangelical Homiletics Society Meeting in Fort Worth, Texas October 15-17. Especially because its theme was :Promoting Community through Preaching, I was keen to participate. When the call for conference papers was given, I submitted a proposal on the subject of "Exploring Community Formation through Preaching." Invited to give the paper I then spent over six weeks writing it. It was hard work. Actually, I mentioned the process in a blog.....yet I was excited that I was going to be given feedback on new material. In addition to attending the meeting we were planning to spend time with old friends in Texas - everything was booked and projected to be a significant occasion.
And, then, the day before leaving we heard my son Rob was back in hospital in New Jersey. During his first emergency (a week earlier) we had kept in touch by 'phone but this time sounded worse. My first reaction was that we could honor the conference commitment while still keeping in close touch. Really, part of me was arguing that I should stay with the plan! However, the more we prayed and thought about it the more absurd that seemed. Of course, my son's need for his parents over-rode my plans. Why did I even think twice? Because, when it comes down to it, it's rarely easy to give up things we really want to do (and have worked for) even though there are more important things we really ought to do. In a word - to do what God wants.
I recognize that this was an easy decision. As soon as it was made, with flights to Newark instead of Fort Worth etc., both of us sensed such peace.....confirmed by several events. As Carol and I have reflected since, we have remembered how often in pastoral ministry the decisions between responding to church family crises and personal family needs were decidedly more complex. I am sure that I made mistakes then. However, I thank God, I didn't make a mistake this time.