Do you remember…?
…that after Moses murdered an Egyptian he ran for his life and wound up in Midian, the backside of the desert? There, for forty years, God tutored Moses, developed him, tempered his will, and forged him into the man who would lead Israel out of captivity and to the Promised Land.
Do you realize that while God was devoting His energies to craft Moses’ character, an entire generation of Israel died in Egypt doing hard labor?
Do you remember the crippled beggar marooned at the temple gate? Peter and John took pity on the man, told him they had no money, but that they could provide healing in the name of Jesus Christ. They grasped him by the hand and pulled him to his feet. He followed them walking, leaping, and praising God.
Do you recollect that the authorities took Peter and John into custody over their preaching and healing of this lame man? During their inquisition it came out that the man had been crippled for over forty years. That means Jesus walked past the man countless times on his way to the temple, but did not heal him.
Do you recall that the Apostle Paul penned at least thirteen books of the New Testament? God used the systematic mind of this Pharisee converted to Christianity to articulate many of our foundational doctrines.
Do you remember that right after his conversion Paul was led away by God—into the wilderness—for approximately seventeen years?
Do you remember that Jesus’ formal ministry spanned only three years, but the first thing God did was lead him into the wilderness for forty days?
Such inefficiency! What is God thinking?
God works from and toward eternity. This being the case, I can easily miss God’s perspective when I insist He conform to my calendar and best thinking. I would not have sent Paul into the wilderness for seventeen years. I would have gotten him started writing books of the Bible right away, flattened his learning curve, and developed him on the job. But not God.
If I was God—which my wife reminded me this morning, I am not—I would have instructed Jesus to heal the crippled guy rather than walking past him en route to worship. His regular passing appears callous. His healing of others, but not this man, seems preferential. But not to God.
It is hard for me to embrace, let alone comprehend, a priority for one man’s development while a few million others suffer and die. I would have worked it out so the folks in Egypt got out quickly. But not God.
Isaiah records God’s perspective this way: “‘My thoughts are not your thoughts, / Nor are your ways My ways,’ declares the LORD. ‘For as the heavens are higher than the earth, / So are My ways higher than your ways / And My thoughts than your thoughts’” (55:8-9).
Circumstances like these I’ve referenced—irrational inefficiencies—mirror my own experience. It boils down to this: I can insist God work within the realm of my rationale, and succumb to distrust when He refuses. Or I can say to Him, “Father, I would suggest thus and so in this situation, but like Jesus said to you, ‘Not my will, but yours be done.’ That is my greatest desire.”
I used to ask why a lot more than I do now, especially about circumstances that strike me as irrational or inefficient. The more I asked, the more I doubted, not because God refused to answer, but because I couldn’t get Him to stay inside the box of my own mind.
I began a few years ago asking: “Father, what are you thinking—what’s on your mind? How are you seeing this situation?”
The Bible notes that God has written His desires on the walls of my heart, which means that from His vantage point He has expressed Himself plainly. All that remains is for me to grasp what He says, take Him for who He is, and trust His heart versus my preferences or what might seem best to me.
The why question presumes distrust, the what question presumes trust. The why question is anchored in my mind and emotions, the second reaches out of my heart for His perspective.
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