Forum Summary: The Best Laid Plans

Author: Juliette McNair | Student, Living Education Charlotte 2021

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes, 29 seconds.

Mr. McNair introduced the manager of the Mail Processing Department at Headquarters, an elder in the Charlotte congregation, and a long-time member of God’s Church. “Mr. Gaylyn Bonjour, as you all know, is responsible for all of that major operation that happens downstairs—it’s the heart of the Work.”

“Either good or bad, what happened this year is going to be a memory that you’ll build on all the way through your life.” Mr. Bonjour spoke to the students about planning their futures. At a time when many of the students are making decisions regarding their educations, careers, or even whether to remain in Charlotte, Mr. Bonjour reminded them that their lives would not unfold exactly according to plan. He joked, “I was going to be retired at thirty-five. I’m 77 and I’m still working. Sometimes, as we go through life, all the things that you plan and the direction you that you’re trying to go—it seems to go the other way…”

“The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry…”

– Robert Burns

“You have your plan, and God has His plan.” In 1971, Mr. Bonjour bought twenty-seven acres in Kingsburg, California on which to plant plum trees and raise a farm. Yet, the timing was not good—many other people had the same idea, and the market was competitive. There was little profit in their endeavor, Mr. Bonjour had to work as a masonry contractor to support the farm. Finally, years later, after his son finished high school, Mr. Bonjour and his wife decided to sell the ranch, and they began managing a mini-storage center. He was eventually ordained and hired by the Church. He said, “We may be frustrated that our plan is not working, but we can be assured His plan is.”

“Remember the time you were here.” Isaiah 46:9-10 reads, “Remember the former things of old, For I am God, and there is no other… Saying, ‘My counsel shall stand….’” Mr. Bonjour advised the students to use the lessons they learned at Living Ed to seek God early in their lives. He said, “The most precious, tangible thing you have is your time. Every minute you spend is lost. You’re not getting it back.” As he read through Ecclesiastes 3, Mr. Bonjour reminded the students that now is the time for them to seek God, so they will have fewer opportunities to make mistakes in the future. “Every sin committed is a little scar on the brain.”

“Our character is built through adversity.” God allows His people—and their plans—to be tested. Mr. Bonjour explained, “God wants us to be able to stand upright before Him and to reflect Jesus Christ in our lives.” In his first year of being called into the truth, Mr. Bonjour was tested on the Sabbath. His boss needed him to work seven days a week, but Mr. Bonjour refused to do it and was let go. When he registered for the “out of work” list in the Piledrivers Union, his name was dropped to the bottom of the list, because he would not work on Saturday. For a year, he supported his family by working at a junkyard, earning two dollars an hour. “I’ve never been tested on the Sabbath after that.” God is interested in a Christian’s character, not their intelligence or wealth. “When you go through difficulties, you learn and then you can empathize.” Mr. Bonjour explained God uses a “hands-off” approach with His people to see what they will do. But if a Christian does not judge himself—if he fails to align his plan with God’s plan—God will step in and correct it.

“If you’ve got God, you’ve got everything. If you don’t have God, you have nothing.”

Mr. Bonjour concluded, “Looking back, I can see God very gently moved me in a direction where I can benefit not only me and my family but the Church. You don’t always get to go in the direction you want to go. You don’t always get to do the things you want to do. But you trust God, and you know that God is involved in your life.”

“And, as Mr. Armstrong said, ‘I read the book, and, in the end, we win.’”

This post is part of our new series of student-written content for LivingEd-Charlotte. These summaries cover topics originally presented by our faculty and guest speakers in our weekly Forum and Assembly. For more Assembly-related content check out our Second Thoughts posts.