Proverbs 16:9

An Unlikely Enemy

Isaiah 55:8-9

“‘For 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.’”

They say that the good is often the enemy of the best. It’s one of the truest statements ever made. I think it applies especially to God and to His plans for each of us. I don’t know about you, but I’ve got some ideas. I’ve got ideas about how I can serve God, and further the Kingdom, and bless all of humanity. Yeah, I’ve got some big ideas and some equally big plans. But wait—what’s that the Bible says in Proverbs 16:9? “The mind of man plans his way, But the LORD directs his steps.”

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But my plans are good! They’re noble, they’re selfless and sacrificial. And those things are true. But no matter how good my plans may be, they may not be BEST. God may have better plans than I do. Let’s face it, He undoubtedly does. So He’ll close some doors and open others. He’ll speak to me through other believers. He will give me a sense of peace, or perhaps a sense of unrest. And sometimes, some of our dreams have to die to make room for the dreams God has for us.

There’s a story I’ve heard several times, of a little girl with a fake pearl necklace that she adores and wears religiously. One night, her Dad asks, “Do you love me?” Her reply is, “Yes, of course I love you.” Dad’s reply? “Then will you give me your pearls?” Devastated, she replies, “Daddy, I do love you, but I can’t give you my pearls.” This exchange goes on for several nights, until the little girl finally answers, “Daddy, I do love you, and if you really want my pearls that badly, you can have them.” And once she hands them over through tears, the dad pulls out a beautiful string of REAL pearls, a gift he’s been waiting so long to give her. She’s finally willing to give up the good, in exchange for the best. The question is, am I? And are you?

Oh God, let us accept your best for us with open minds, open hands, and open hearts. Help us to believe the truth that your thoughts and your ways are so very much higher than ours; that you have plans to prosper us, to bring us a future and a hope; and that you are ready and waiting to do immeasurably more than we could ever ask or imagine. In the all-powerful name of Jesus, let it be so.  

Vision

“When God gives a vision, God makes provision.”
Mark Batterson, The Circle Maker

This is a great saying to hold to. But there are times when it raises more questions than it answers.

First of all, what constitutes a vision? How sure do I need to be before I call a glimmer an inkling, an inkling a tugging, or a tugging a vision? Do I need to be absolutely confident, or can I have moments of ambivalence or even doubt? When I think about this, I think about my own ideas and “plans.” For instance, many of you know that I have a spare kidney that is up for grabs. The timing isn’t right at the moment for me to just give it away indiscriminately, but I have zero reservations that I want to do it someday. In the meantime, I know that I want to pursue a research agenda that will hopefully lead many others into a greater willingness to be living organ donors. There are some other ideas about which I am (sorry, Goose—WE—are) still fervently praying for guidance. Most prominently, we believe we might be called to adoption. We definitely believe that it is a GREAT thing; we just aren’t positive that it’s right for us. We aren’t convinced that it’s NOT for us—we just plain aren’t sure. So is it a vision? I have no earthly idea.

Secondly, how do we know if a vision is from God? Maybe we feel and believe VERY strongly about one thing or another, but upon further revelation, realize the vision isn’t GOD’S, but OURS. Or maybe it’s a vision that someone else has for us, but one that doesn’t represent God’s very best for our lives. In my case, what if there is something or someone other than God fueling my desire to pursue adoption? What if God knows that He can use me more mightily and effectively in some capacity other than that of an adoptive parent? He does know best, after all, and He has an eternal perspective far beyond this finite space and time that I’m living in.

So is it wrong to want clarity and assurance, to ask for enough guidance to know that I am at least on the right track? Do I step out in faith, or on the basis of an educated guess, and see if the provision follows? Who knows? But what I do know is this:

“We can make our plans, but the LORD determines our steps.”
(Proverbs 16:9—NLT)

Let this promise bring you as much comfort and peace today as it brings me. Determine our steps, Lord.

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