Posted by Jimmy Spencer, firstname.lastname@example.org
There are a few options when we don’t get what we want: We can pout. We can fight for it. Or we can give in, claiming that it wasn’t meant to be.
Christians or non-Christians, people often believe in the idea that things are predestined for them. And destiny, well that’s a strangely wild thought when you think about it. It means no control, or little control. The Lord declares, “For I know the plans I have for you. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11)
He is in control. We pray for guidance, but if we have given our life to Him, He’s going to put us where he needs us.
But does that mean we give up on decision-making?
I’ve prayed plenty for direction. If prayers were calculated like songs in iTunes, it’d be my “most played” in the last six months. Sometimes I am left frustrated, hoping that I’ll wake up to an email or text message from God with advice. Unfortunately, it’s not always so easy.
God’s timing is different than ours. Sometimes, He’ll slap us upside our heads with direction, and other times He’ll stay quiet. More often though, we’re just failing to listen.
I am a believer in God’s control. I believe in His predestined plans for us. But I also believe that God has given us free will – the ability to follow His direction or not. What we need to do is simply pray about it and learn to follow His signs and do as He asks.
Certainly, it’s not always easy learning how to interpret His signs. That’s why it becomes so important to develop a personal relationship with God so we don’t miss what He wants to communicate to us. When we focus on God and concentrate on His word through the Bible, He will focus on us and communication will become clearer.
But that’s just step one. Once we learn to listen to God and follow His plans for us, then we have to learn to trust His entire plan. There will be times when we feel forsaken by our circumstances and question why God would have hurt us or put us in difficult times – especially if we’re following his direction. (“Isn’t this what you want, God? Why has it turned out so poorly?”)
We have to be okay with the good and the bad, a lesson in trusting God that I am learning more each day. We have to realize that God is teaching us something, perhaps placing us in a dire condition to learn, grow or meet someone who needs help or will help us. Sometimes it may feel like God has our life on hold, when in reality, he is trying to show us something. Imagine God’s frustration with our impatience in His world of eternity.
I had a moment this past weekend while at a men’s retreat near a lake. I was sitting underneath the sun, amongst dirt and boulders overlooking the lake’s shore. It was a gorgeous, serene panorama of God’s creations. But for a moment, I took my eyes off the grand beauty and looked down towards the dirt towards a small, black rock lying near me. There was tiny red spider moving along the rock. I picked up the rock, with the spider still on it, and watched the little red creature move briskly across his small island. As I turned the rock, the spider continued to move – obviously with thoughts of, “what is happening, I better keep moving.’ But the spider wasn’t going anywhere. His understanding of that moment was far different than mine. I was in control; I better knew the bigger picture of this spider’s world.
I quickly appreciated that I wasn’t too different than this spider. My life seems to move just as aimlessly when I live outside of God’s plan. Like this spider, my legs often churn in the direction I determine to be important. Imagine God sitting up there, watching me drive my car back and forth to my home, work, the gym. Without His direction, was I living a life any more significant than this spider?
We don’t always understand what’s around us in the physical world. We just keep moving. To find our true purpose and what God has planned for us, all we have to do is listen – to find God, to trust Him, to communicate with Him and to hear what He wants from us.
His purpose and plans for us are far superior than what we think is important in the physical world. Once we learn how to listen to Him, we’ll stop wandering our respective rocks.