Monday, May 14, 2007

Balancing Plans with Reality

Someone recently posed this question to me:

"I believe God has led me to do X. Life circumstances seem to be stacking up against X. How do I make it through? My heart is in X, and yet, looking at this situation realistically, it seems nearly impossible. What's going on?"
Of course, there are several possible answers to this:
  1. God didn't lead you to do X. You misunderstood Him. His ways are not our ways, and He's got different plans for you than this.
  2. He led you to pursue X because He had something to teach you in the process and the plan never was for you to actually do X.
  3. He's going to come through in time and you'll get to do X. He's going to show off how awesome He is.
  4. You're going to have to wait. You may not see X come to fruition for quite some time. It will happen... just not according to your timetable.
If number one or two, there would be some serious prayer and soul-searching that would need to take place to figure out the next step. If number three, then you get to walk obediently and faithfully, learning the lessons He has for you there in X.

But if it's number four, well, I have some things to share about that. ;) People here in the States often won't understand anything but a carefully-planned life. They don't understand waiting-- even if they are Christians-- even if it's waiting on the Lord. So don't look to other people for encouragement while you're waiting, because I can almost guarantee it won't happen.

Instead, if we're the ones God's causing and calling to "wait" for a season of life, then we've got to get our theology straight. We've got to be sure of Who we say God is, alligning our faith and practice with the Word of God. For me, during this waiting time, that has meant remembering these two things:

God is faithful- -and He will do exactly what needs to be done when it needs to be done, in the way it needs to be done. He is fully reliable and I can count on Him to be doing the perfect thing, even when I don't know what in the world He's doing. I don't have to worry, I don't have to fret.

God's ways are unsearchable- -and if I try to "plan" it out, or always understand everything, I will be disappointed. At some point, my "expectations" (which might even sound like they are "according to His will") will collide with His will for my life. If not today, tomorrow. If not tomorrow, next week. If not next week, next year. At some point, my expectations and plans will collide with God's plans, if for no other reason than that He can teach me to wait on Him and to help me more greatly identify with Christ in His sufferings. No matter what happens or how long it takes, He is still good.

But if I've heard a word from Him about my future, then it is my responsibility (and no one else's) to keep walking in obedience to that until and unless I hear something different. I must walk in God-confidence, even if others deride or discourage me because it's not all happening on a Franklin-Covey kind of timeline, or because it's not a Merrill-Lynch kind of financial situation, or because "it's just clearly not the Lord's will, cause there have been difficulties."

Here are some passages that have been really helpful for me, as I've been waiting on God to act in our situation for the last 5-6 months:
  • James 4:13-16 -putting man-made plans in God-sized perspective
  • Psalm 62-an excellent Psalm about waiting on the Lord
  • James 1:2-5, 12 -what suffering produces in us; what we can focus on learning in the midst of trials

That doesn't mean it's easy. But He is faithful. Look to Him!!! If you're going through a trial or a time of waiting, I pray that you'll be encouraged, and that your perspective will adjust to whatever it needs to be to walk in God-confidence through this next trial. That you won't just have all your hopes pinned on some future time when everything will be just the way you're dreaming it will be, but that you will walk obediently right here where you are. And that He will teach you great and unsearchable things right there in the midst of the struggle. I know it ain't easy, but I know He is good.


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