Chaplain Jim’s 40 Years of Observance (Not what I have done for 40 years but what I have seen God do for 40 years.)

What was the last anniversary you celebrated? Was it a birthday, a wedding anniversary? I am celebrating an anniversary this year. 2017 marks 40 years that I have been in ministry. Wow, 40 years!? The only things I have done longer than that was be married, breath and eat (and of course sleep).

Where did all those decades go? Worse of all is that I can say truthfully that I started in ministry in the last century. Yet in all those years with all the mountain top highs and deep valley lows I do know one thig for sure. None of it could have ever happened without God.

How else can I explain how a grief stricken 11-year-old having lost his mother finds himself being moved from Texas to Iowa and in time going to a small rural high school. Then while in high school I am invited to a Youth for Christ rally. This in turn led to being reminded of my mother’s deep faith. I soon found myself asking Christ into my life as Lord and Savior. Soon I found myself going to a small town little church.

In this little church, I found myself leading singing on some events and getting more involved as I was one of the few “men” in the church. It was while I was there that we had young pastor still going to Bible College and with his influence and the influence I went to a small out of the way Bible College in Minnesota.

While in Bible College and trying to figure out my future I fell in love and married. During this time my dear wife and I worked as volunteers with Youth for Christ. We had plans for me to go back to college and for us to go into youth work. Yet we had pastors and in college teachers suggesting I look into the pastorate.

Upon graduation, I could not find a youth pastor position anywhere but there as a position for pastor in a small rural Minnesota Evangelical Free Church. While there and reading the denominations magazine I saw that the Free Church was beginning to build their first Elim senior living community. I thought how that sounded like a great opportunity.

Little did I know that God was a work for moving me into position to join Elim. In time I went into chaplaincy and we came to the Twin Cities to do hospital ministry for 19 years. I thought I finally found my last spot of ministry. After 19 years though God lead me to leave though and by His moving of hearts I found myself actually joining the very Elim ministry I read about decades earlier.

I never would have ever been able to plot such a life course but then I am not the omniscient one either. God always has our best interest in mind and He knows where our gifts lie even if we don’t.

My friends, no matter how life is going, no matter where you find yourself, and no matter how you got to where you are at, rest ASSURED God’s hand is involved. I pray you do not take as long as I did to learn that the question to ask is not why, how, but “what.” What does God want to do through me here?  Whatever it is, it is for the good of others, for honoring Him and for your good too.

“I say this because I know the plans that I have for you.” This message is from the Lord. “I have good plans for you. I don’t plan to hurt you. I plan to give you hope and a good future.”  Jeremiah 28:11

Respectfully, and with gratitude to God,

Chaplain Jim Vogt