I have been thinking a lot about God’s plans lately. I think I might have previously acknowledged that they were stupid at some level, subconsciously, but have never really allow myself to “go there”. Believers are full of great lip service like, “Thy will be done” and “I’ll go wherever you send me”, but what happens when God takes us up on those offers? For some reason we think He is going to come to us with with a plan all mapped out and beautifully detailed so that within a few short weeks, maaaybe months (if our faith isn’t quite strong enough), we are going to see progress, or victory, or whatever it is we are desiring. I’m still looking, without success, for a Bible example where God gave an entire, detailed plan. I am completely ok with being wrong, so if anyone knows of a time He has done this, please tell me. What I do find is that He gives the first step – nudge, whisper – of where He wants to bring someone. He may even tell them the end result, or the promise regarding that first step. Then He suddenly disappears and people are left wondering what on earth they are supposed to do next!!! God seems to leave people in the middle of ridiculous situations and then is nowhere to be found. Need an example? Thank you for asking. I’ll give you several. They may be obvious, ok, they are obvious, but have you really thought through them and imagined yourself in these situations?
First step: Build an ark
Promise: I [God] will send a flood and this ark will be your salvation and I will make a covenant with you
Middle: Years and years of building a boat because something you’ve never seen before (rain) is coming and is going to flood the entire earth and the boat is going to save you and your family. Oh, and seven days before this alleged rain is supposed to come you need to bring two (at the very least) of every kind of creature onto this boat with you and your family. You have no idea how long the flood will last. In addition to all of that, you get to answer questions that you really don’t have answers to. Questions like “what is rain?”, “what is a flood?”, “are you sure it was really God that said that?”, “how long are you going to keep building that thing?”.
Bonus points: You’ll get to look like an idiot to everyone that hears about your endeavors.
P.S. Have fun and thank you for obeying.
Genesis 12 – 22
First step: Leave everything you’ve ever known and start traveling (I’ll tell you where to stop later)
End result: You’ll be a great nation, you’ll be famous and you’ll bless others
Middle: You get to travel from place to place adding more and more livestock and servants to your household. You become incredibly rich. You’ve married a gorgeous woman and it freaks you out so you lie to the kings you encounter so they don’t kill you to get her. Look at all that land, it’s all yours, and your descendants, you know, those non existent descendants.
Bonus points: You get to wait 25 years for your promised descendant to arrive.
P.S. You can have your promised child for 13 years and then I’m going to ask you to kill him for me. Just as a test, but I’m not going to tell you it’s only a test.
First step: Tear down your father’s alters to Baal and Asherah and build an alter to the Lord your God.
End result: You will rescue Israel from the Midianites and destroy their whole army as if you were fighting one man.
Middle: You’re a scaredy cat, and you ask God three times to prove it’s really Him commissioning you to do this. The whole town wants to kill you because you tore down the alters of their gods. A prophet stands up for you and then renames you “Jerub-baal” which means “let Baal defend himself”. Wow, nice upgrade.
Bonus points: You have an army of 33,000 men, but that’s too many. You get to cut that down to 300.
P.S. I’m sending you out to fight with ram’s horns, torches in clay pitchers. No “real” weapons.
First step: The prophet of God anoints you the next king of Israel.
End result: You’re the king of Israel.
Middle: Play music for the current deranged king and dodge the spears he flings at you. Fight an enemy giant with a slingshot and a rock because the entire army of Israel is afraid to fight him themselves. Pretend to be insane and drool all over your face so an enemy king thinks you’re crazy and releases you. Your best friend and nearly his entire family is killed.
Bonus points: You get to marry the princess, but then she’s married off to someone else while you’re running for your life from the deranged king.
P.S. Even though you’re anointed king, you get to live in caves and be hunted like an animal until the current king dies.
I think I made my point but, just in case, here’s a few more you can look up: Joseph, Joshua, Jonathan, Elijah, Job, Daniel, Hosea, John the baptist, Peter, Jesus, Paul. Each and every one the epitome of ridiculousness, and yet, somehow, God is faithful and butt kickingly victorious every time. In addition to all of these examples, God gives us plenty of scriptures to prepare us for the fact that, ultimately, His plan is the one that will prevail. Psalm 40:5, Proverbs 16:1, Proverbs 16:3, Proverbs 16:9, Proverbs 19:21, Proverbs 21:30, Isaiah 25:1, Jeremiah 29:11 and the daddy of all “plan” scriptures – Isaiah 55:8-9 “My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the LORD. “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.” – just to give you a few. It’s not that God doesn’t like our plans, He does, and He will often use them, but it all comes down to one point: He wants the whole earth to see His greatness. And, not only His greatness, but His amazing, unfailing love for us. What better way than to take a situation that looks completely ridiculous and hopeless and make something beautiful out of it in a way no one can explain or imagine? He uses foolishness to confound the wise.
I want to encourage anyone that has been given a first step or a promise and you now find yourself floating in the middle of discouragement, disappointment, anger, doubt, and questions: God has stupid ideas. Stupid, amazing ideas that are better than anything you could plan. Right now it may look like He has left you. He hasn’t. He is preparing to bring the promise to you in a way that no one can explain, and it will be better than you have ever imagined. He will show how incredibly awesome, faithful and loving He is. After all, that is the whole point.
“Safe? … Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good.”
~ C.S. Lewis ~
Chronicles of Narnia
P.S. This Donald Miller blog post showed up in my social media feed while I was working on this post and it’s another great explanation of God’s crazy ways and an encouragement to stay on for the ride.