Countless times I've received pastoral counsel from a man I've never met- at least not face to face. I've met him in the words he wrote to others, and I've sat down with him, in a sense, as he has spoken into my life. I again received pastoral counsel from this old, long-deceased, man, John Newton, today in some words that I read some time ago, but they fit me just as well now as they did before. I have to admit that my heart yearns for the country, and warmth, and trees, and creeks, and fields. About this time every year, coming out of winter, when Buffalo weather just can't let go of yesterday and embrace the inevitable, I get restless. And I need a reminder from pastor Newton that the Lord always knows what is best for me, and He always gives it.
Newton knew the beautiful countryside of England. He pastored in village called Olney for a number of years, where he was able to enjoy the scenery. But in time, the Lord moved him to London, and his work broadened. The scenery was not as pleasing, he felt crowded and wanted to stretch his legs, and he often became restless. In one letter, to a woman named Miss Flower, Newton responds to her about the place she was writing from:
I hope, however, that while you continue abroad you will be happy and easy. How could you tantalize me with mentioning cottages and hills peeping between them? Cottages, hills, woods, birds and brooks, are words which always set my imagination on its tip-toes till sober judgment interposes and commands it to sit down again. Even admitting that Potters Pury far exceeds Windsor or Clifton, and were it June instead of November, neither the place not the company should tempt me to wish myself there when the Lord appoints me to be here.
My imagination does just as his. In March and April, it stands on its tip-toes trying to see where the grass is already being cut, and the trees have already bloomed. But this is where I need to apply to my own heart what the pastor says. I will not wish myself anywhere but where the Lord has planted me. He knows what is best, for myself, for my family, and for the ministry He has given. I am greatly privileged to serve where I am. My church family has been such a blessing for 8+ years. They are God's good people, who know what grace, and love, and truth are. They have been what I've needed. I'm grateful that the Lord knew that before I did, and planted me where my heart could grow (if not April grass). I'll close with a final word from Mr. Newton, as to the wisdom of God:
I hope, however, as we grow older we shall grow wiser, and be more satisfied, that whether we are placed in town or country, whether we are sick or well, the present circumstances for the present time must be best, because of His appointment.