“What??!! But I thought…”
I’m sure you, like me, could easily complete that sentence. Moments like these have become pretty familiar to the world as a whole lately.
The plan has changed. And you’re standing there with your mouth hanging open, at least on the inside. Here comes this major change of plan, and nobody has bothered to ask you for your thoughts or permission. Or me.
Life can take some crazy twists and turns. I suppose the longer we live, the more we realize this fact. For a Christian who is following God with his/her whole heart, the crazy twists and turns are pretty much inevitable. God’s plan rarely (if ever) looks like what “we thought.”
“He’s the King. I just get to do what He wants.” – Missionary Jacob Morse
Over and over in the Bible, we see God working in ways that caused people’s mouths to drop open. “What??! This can’t be God’s plan…. can it?” So, we know that when we find ourselves there in 2020, at least we are in good company.
For us as a family, the past eighteen months have been filled with these kind of moments. “What, Lord?? But we thought….” Sometimes the world can truly seem to be spinning around you as God’s plan sort of crashes in on your nicely-ordered little world.
I was reading in 2 Kings recently, and came upon the story of Naaman. Now here is a man who had a “but I thought” moment. He was an important guy who had a horrible disease. He heard about the prophet of the Living God, in Israel, who could likely help him; possibly heal him. Naaman makes the journey and arrives at Elisha’s house. Obviously he was desperate. Elisha gives him instructions to go wash in the Jordan River seven times and says he will then be healed. That’s when Naaman has his “but I thought” moment. In fact, that’s literally what Naaman says.
“Behold, I thought that he would surely come out to me and stand and call upon the name of the Lord his God, and wave his hand over the place and cure the leper. 12 Are not Abana[c] and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Could I not wash in them and be clean?” (2 Kings 5:11-12)
Naaman’s reaction seems pretty remarkable to us as we read the story. It’s easy for us to think objectively about it since we are not emotionally involved in Naaman’s situation. He becomes so angry that he’s about to walk away from something major that God was going to do. He was about to walk away from his own healing! Why? Because it didn’t look like what Naaman wanted it to look like. It didn’t look like what he had imagined or possibly what he thought he deserved, or even what he thought God would do or should do.
It would seem that in his desperation Naaman would have done whatever the prophet told him to do. But there was one thing stopping him– his pride. He must have felt totally embarrassed and humiliated by God’s apparent plan.
At times, are we really any different? So often our gut-level reaction to God’s unexpected plan is one of pride, when we say, “What? But I thought it would look like this!” If we carry on in that line of thinking, we are in real danger of missing what God might be doing. We can react in pride and reject what God is asking of us, or reject the truth that God is showing us. Or, if we have no real choice in the matter (like during a state lockdown) we can react with mere tolerance, which leads to frustration. Either way, our heart attitude will not lead us to a good destination.
If we don’t want to miss what God is doing, it takes a surrender of our will. It takes acceptance, humility, and an open heart. It takes the realization (again, and again) that it really doesn’t matter what “we thought.” There is a reason why we call Jesus our Lord.
His yoke is easy and His burden is light. He’s a Gentle Master when we come to Him with a yielded heart. And when we do, we find out again the wonderful gladness in surrender.
The revelation of divine truth does not come to us when life is comfortable.
The revelation which is existentially real to our hearts does not come when everything is going right, when our refrigerators are full and our bank accounts have extra and everybody is treating us the way we want to be treated and everything is explainable, and we’re happy as clams.
It doesn’t come then.
The revelation of divine truth comes when we struggle, and in our struggle we believe.
Special Request: here’s something I’d like to do, but I need your help! I’m thinking about doing a post soon with a “collage” of ideas and thoughts about this quarantine period. What has God been teaching you? What activities have you been doing with your family that are a little bit different from your normal routine? What recipes have you tried? Has something funny happened that you’d like to share? Has your family found a unique way to encourage others? Please send me anything you’d like to share, and I will put it all together into one post. This is going to be fun. Can’t wait to hear from you!
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Bye for now! ♥