One of the best things happening right now at Harpeth is Relational Discipleship, which is a particular way of leading and developing each other through small groups. The ideas in it come from a church in Idaho led by a guy named Jim Putnam, and Jim has a saying which I’m about to reference: “God’s Part, Our Part, Their Part.”
Jim means “You need to do what you know God’s asking of you- how they respond is their decision.” Sometimes in life God leads, we respond, and nothing seems to happen. From the outside, it can look strange- if God tells you something shouldn’t it be 100% accurate? Yes it would be, if it weren’t for all those darn humans (and their free will) in the way.
This is very true right now in two households we know very well. The first is our house: We are not moving to Atlanta. We announced an upcoming move in April, and now it looks like it will not be happening. At the time, the courtship and phone calls with the institution in question were strangely wonderful, and it was clear to both of us that God was asking us to step out of our roles in Nashville and prepare to move. God called me to Harpeth, and God called me out of Harpeth. But, we’re not moving.
The second household’s story needs a bit of setup: Last winter, a lady came to the front of the church and told the preacher that God was telling her to share something- The something was “There’s a baby that needs to be adopted, and its parents are in this room.” She was convinced it was God, the Preacher was too, and our friends the Honetts were convinced that they were the couple she meant. So they began the adoption procedures, and announced to their friends and families that they’d be bringing Lincoln home around February. Home visits, lawyers, and time with the birthmom, Sunshine. Our friends AND the liason lost contact with Sunshine during her third trimester, and as far as I know still haven’t heard from her. BUT, it seemed God had a plan B: in January, a nashville friend was in a rough spot, and wanted to know if the Honetts would adopt her unborn baby. Plans continued: sold the treadmill, bought a crib, stocked up with diapers, paid for dr’s appointments and yet… she kept the baby.
Where’s God in all of this? God’s part, our part, their part.
I think it’s important to share this stuff publicly, because it’s more common than we realize. Not every call from God comes to fruition the way we expect. That doesn’t mean we misheard him, or should doubt him in the future. Our role is still to act on the whisper: be open to what He’s asking of us and follow it through. Other people make their own choices.
The inverse is also true: I’ve been across the table from people who were very likely following a whisper on their side: Would you join us in what God’s doing here? And I made a decision to decline.