Published June 28, 2011
Does God have a "master plan" for your life? Was it in place long before you were actually born? Is it active now?
Yes. Based on my experience, I have no doubt about it. Allow me to testify...
I have heard many stories and I'm sure you have, too about how the Lord very clearly and overtly called certain individuals to His service. Certainly Scriptures include such accounts. Perhaps one of the most stunning is Paul's conversion and commission on the road to Damascus (Acts 9). Some preachers or missionaries report receiving the call in remarkably overt ways.
But I don't think God always works that way. Not in my life, anyway. As I get older, it seems my "20-20 hindsight" improves. I can look back and ever-more-clearly see how God has been working throughout my life.
First, I was born a "PK" a preacher's kid. That's a pretty good start. I was "rooted and grounded" (Ephesians 3:17) in God's love and the teaching of His Word.
But it is through the various interests that I've had over the years and how those interests have come together in the work I now do that I see the unmistakable behind-the-scenes moving of God's hand.
When I was a young child, I developed several seemingly unrelated interests. I was intrigued by newspapers. In any city we visited, I had to get my hands on a local newspaper. I read books about newspapers and visited newspaper offices. The sounds of a roomful of reporters banging out their stories on old typewriters and the cacophonous drone of teletype machines busily printing out wire news captivated me. The clattering hot-lead Linotypes and awesomely deafening rotary presses led to interests in printing (and graphic arts in general) and journalism (reporting and writing). I was editor of my elementary school's newspaper when I was in sixth grade. Later I served for a year as editor-in-chief of my high school's award-winning newspaper.
I was always fascinated by broadcasting radio and television. I would listen to local radio stations (we had some well-programmed, nationally-prominent stations in my home area) and was intrigued by their "formatics" how they put their programming elements together, the "sound" of their on-air production, their personalities. Those were the "glory days" of music radio, and I was captivated by all that it involved. In perhaps sixth grade I soldered together a "Knight Kit" transmitter and built a little radio station (complete with turntables, a microphone and a sound mixer) in a large storage closet in our city house (the parsonage) which could be heard (legally) by neighbors (although I don't know if any actually did). I developed quite an interest in practical electronics as a result.
By the time I got to college I served three years as the college radio station's program director and my senior year as station manager and designed and built a crude-but-workable automation system for the station. And I even created a live network of almost a dozen college radio stations throughout southeastern Pennsylvania, linked together by broadcast network lines supplied by the phone company. (This was long before the internet.) We had a half-hour nightly block of national news (with a national sponsor), college news and sports, most of which originated from the basement of my home (a studio I had built with an old RCA broadcast console). I syndicated some programming to other college stations, too, by tape.
Before I was even out of high school, I got a parttime job at a local radio station working weekends and filling in virtually fulltime during the summer. Just about the time I was getting out of college, the station decided to develop an expanded news department, and I was tapped to be the news director. Over the next seven or eight years (until the station was sold) we won a handful of statewide Associated Press awards for news coverage and our news staff grew to four full-timers and several part-timers something virtually unheard of in today's economy for this market size.
Then I served as news director for two years at a local television station which dominated the Central Pennsylvania market (and still does).
Never in all of this time did I hear the audible voice of the Lord saying, "Paul, here's what I want you to do..." or "Paul, here's what you should be interested in...."
But I have no doubt that He gave me those interests. And this is what truly amazes me every one of those interests (and more), no matter now seemingly unrelated they were to each other at the time, come together in what I'm doing now. How?
My interest in printing and graphic arts has made it possible for me to prepare all the printed materials our business has used over the years, from the paste-up days of yore to today's computer composition. (I prepare the final form of our 52-page printed Springside catalog.) We simply could not afford to farm out this work.
My interest in news (journalism) gave me the opportunity to work in radio news for several years, which prepared me for the interviewing and audio clip preparation that goes into every edition of The Gospel Greats. It also provided the background for writing the scripts for each program in "radio style" that communicates cogently with listeners.
My writing background also makes possible these newsletters and all of the other writing that goes into what we do. (It also made possible a radio/TV newsletter I published for several years as a "side business" that provided the capital to build my radio production studio. For a while, in fact, it provided my only income. Although a secular enterprise, I believe God provided it.)
My interest in radio production is a fundamental part of TGG. It's a highly-produced program that doesn't "feel" over-produced when you're listening. It just flows. It's all designed to enhance and not to detract or distract from the message.
My interest and experience in networking and syndication made it possible to launch successfully The Gospel Greats program back in 1980, building it quickly from a handful of stations to what it has become, totally independently.
My interest in electronics meant I could build my own studio. My original studio for TGG included a lot of custom automation work that I designed and built, all of which is no longer needed because other technology caught up to what I needed. Which reminds me of computers. I was interested in computers as long as they've been around fascinated by what they could do, especially on the business side. Of course, I never thought they'd be involved in the studio. Today, though, that's virtually all there is in the studio. And I developed our entire TGG website, combining computer, graphic, business and writing interests.
I could go on. But the point is that God prepared me for what He wanted me to do by giving me interests and abilities in all of the key ingredients required to do what I've been doing for these past thirty-some years preparing and delivering The Gospel Greats program for you each week.
Did God ever tell me explicitly to do this program? No. But He gave me a heart willing to serve Him. And then He rewarded that willingness with a ministry built on the interests He had already given and developed. (And part of the "reward" for me was meeting Shelia because of the broadcast.) Even as I write these words, I am overcome by God's goodness and His love. He is so good. How could I not credit God with all He's done?
If you have been searching for God's will for your life, especially in the area of service for Him, just take stock of the interests and abilities He's already given you. Is there some "thread" that might tie these all together into some unique potential business and/or ministry? There must be a reason He's given them. Can you see it? How could you use them for His service?
Let your prayer be, as mine is, "Lord, you've prepared me. Now use me."
"For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope" (Jer. 29:11 NRSV).
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