“Flexible” is not one of the virtuous characteristics that I can claim ownership of, unfortunately. This week, I realized again just how much I lack this trait when I woke to heavy snow on a day when I had several pressing errands in town that had to be done that morning. The plow was late, and it was almost noon before I could get out of the driveway.
Yet as I hurriedly rushed out to accomplish my long list of errands far behind schedule, I could not erase the very conscious “nagging” thought that despite my own inflexible frustrations, God still directs us in His own Sovereign way, and it was His rearrangement of plans that I’d been so impatiently annoyed with. As a very old song used to say, ‘disappointments’ are really ‘His appointments.’ How long will it take for me to understand that?
Once, back when Dan and I were young, confident, and knew everything (before we had any children, of course) we set out on a road trip. As we traveled through one of upstate New York’s many little towns, we became stuck behind a car that was driving us crazy with its snail-paced movement. After trailing it for some time, we were hoping to lose the car at the approaching intersection where we intended to turn right. How exasperating when the car also signaled a right turn while it slowed to a stop in front of us as the light turned red!
Impatient, Dan decided to avoid the intersection, the red light, and the slow moving car altogether. He made a sudden turn right onto a little side street immediately before the intersection, intending to take the first left and thereby get us ahead of the intersection, the red light, and the slow-moving car. Genius! But as soon as he turned into the back street, we came immediately upon a huge truck that was stopped, blocking the entire street! Agghh!!
By the time the truck moved sufficiently for us to get through and make our left turn, we found ourselves not only back behind the slow moving car again, but even further behind as several more cars had snuck in between us! What frustration!
We moved along forward, and suddenly, not a mile down the road, a horrendous car accident took place right in front of our eyes. Within merely seconds, multiple vehicles were crushed in the crash– right up to the car in front of us.
We had never been so sobered in our lives. Had we been successful in winning our position in front of the slow moving car, ours would have been the one at the head of the impact, receiving the most devastating blow of that terrible accident. God had preserved us.
In fact, it was so sobering that both Dan and I have recalled that incident probably more than any other of the “minor” events in our lives. It was such a blatant testimony of the Sovereignty of God that it was undeniable. Even more, I often wonder how many times God’s amazing Sovereign control takes place in ways that we don’t even see! Or that we ignore. Or that we refuse to recognize.
Sometimes, of course, His Sovereign control is demonstrated in ways that are other than preventing us from disaster. Sometimes, His Sovereign will and plan is for us to go through adversity. Ultimately, God’s will and plan is for our ultimate good and His ultimate glory. He is still in control, even when things don’t appear to end the way we’d hoped.
If, in the circumstances of life, we find ourselves complaining that things are not going the way we’d hoped or wanted, or complaining that we have not been properly appreciated, or complaining that we’ve been mistreated, or complaining that things just aren’t as good as they used to be for us– there’s only one true source of our complaint. It’s our own failure to believe that God really is Sovereignly in control in our lives.
If we truly believed, as we say we do, that God is Sovereignly in control, we would live differently. Instead of complaining when circumstances interfere with our plans and our agenda– like Balaam’s donkey interfered with Balaam’s plans and agenda– we would not react like he did, striking the donkey (Numbers 22:22-31). Instead, we would recognize that it was God directing the donkey in order to accomplish His own overriding plans and agenda.
Instead of complaining and becoming bitter because others have mistreated us and taken advantage of us, we would look for God in all of it, trust Him for the outcome, and say, like Joseph did to his brothers who mistreated him, “You meant evil against me, but God meant it for good” (Genesis 50:20).
Instead of complaining over the changes in our lives that disrupt the securities of what we had before, like the Children of Israel did, we would keep our eyes on His goodness and His provision, remembering how He has indeed “carried [us], as a man carries his son, all the way that [we] went” (Deut.1:31).
Somehow– even when we don’t understand why– God is still Sovereign in the whirlwinds. And the heavy, unexpected snowfalls. And the earthquakes, the tsunamis, and the storms. Sometimes He amazes us by revealing Himself in it, but He doesn’t really have to. We’d do well to understand and truly believe He really is Sovereign. Whether He chooses to show us why, or not.
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