August 17, 2017

Seventeen years ago we moved to California, Southern California to be more accurate. I had never imagined moving to California, in fact, I had no desire to move to California. Ever. It was not on my radar.

You see, I had planned my life to be very different. I was going to be a career missionary. First to the Philippines. That plan changed when I got married. Three years later we set out for the Dominican Republic. Five years later we were back in Michigan. That was plan A.

When I accepted the call to a large mainline church in Southern California, that was plan B. I thought I would be there for a long time. I suppose twelve years is a long time for a pastor to be in one place, but I thought it would be longer. Enter plan C.

We moved to Northern California for what I thought would be one year of transition. I had no intentions of staying longer than a year. In fact, I did not even know whether we would stay an entire year. Now we’ve been here 5 years and just moved into a house. We’re not going anywhere.

How did I end up nestled in the woods of Northern California when my plan was to change the world?

The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps. Proverbs 16:9

I can see how the Lord used my heart’s desires to get me from one place to the next. You could say that my time overseas, both in the Philippines and in the Dominican Republic, prepared me for my ministry in a multicultural environment of Southern California. My passion for the supernatural led me to Bethel’s School of Supernatural Ministry. But this is not how I had planned my life. It wasn’t supposed to turn out this way.

How did I get here? Listening to the voice of the Lord. It was different each time. It was never the same. A sense of discernment. A phone call out of the blue. A thought in the back of my mind. The voice of the Lord unmistakably clear. It was different each time. It was never the same.

Twenty-five years ago, Beth and I set out on our honeymoon with our 3-man tent. We camped for a month. Twenty-five years later we settle on 1.08 acres with woods all around us. When we moved into our house, I sensed that our tenting days are over. I am sitting on the patio out back writing this blog post. I look out into the woods. I feel like I am camping, except without the tent. Whoever could have planned this?

By Ralph Veenstra