and ramblings on everything in between
This may come as a shock to you, but I have plans for my life. Gasp! How original of me, huh? I have plans for my career, for my (hopefully one day will exist) marriage, for how I’ll serve God, for everything. I’m a plan maker. I like things to fit in a nice, neat box.
During a conversation with an acquaintance, I found out that she and her husband are helping to plant a church in the
area. They opened their doors in March, and they too have plans for the church, for the ministries, for the outreach. When I asked her how it was going so far, she said, “I’ve definitely realized that God doesn’t want to be put in a box. He took everything we expected to happen and blew it all out of the water.” They were hoping to welcome over 100 people each weekend by the end of the year. They had over 100 attending within a month.
That really resonated with me. I totally try to put God in a box every day. My prayers place Him in a box, my ideas on how I can serve in my ministries place Him in a box, my hopes for my life place Him in a box. I have a hard time lettings things just be instead of making things be planned.
While pondering this idea, I remembered a former pastor asking the congregation to imagine the world in its most perfect state or to dream up the most amazing life possible. But then he challenged us to take those ideas beyond our wildest dreams, and then beyond that, and then beyond that, and then beyond that. “That’s what God can do,” he said. That’s what God can do if you don’t put Him in a box.
Take Eli the priest, for instance, in 1 Samuel. I’m sure he imagined passing his trade down to his sons, sharing in ministries and serving the Lord all the days of their lives. But his sons were heathens. “Scoundrels who had no respect for the Lord,” is how they are described in 1 Samuel 2:12. I’m sure this fact didn’t fit into Eli’s box for his life very well. One day, a hysterical woman entered Eli’s church and cried out to God. Eli thought she was drunk. Turns out she was deeply sadden by the fact that she couldn’t have children. She promised God if He gave her a son, she would give the child back to the Lord. Guess what? She had a son and named him Samuel. After she weaned the boy, she delivered him to Eli’s tabernacle, where Eli and Samuel served God alongside each other. I’m sure this is how Eli dreamed of serving the Lord alongside his own sons, but God was thinking outside the box.
A friend once shared a story with me about one of her former pastors. He was called to be a minister at an early age and knew he would go to seminary school. When he was a young man, he heard the Lord tell him that he would have a son and he was to name him David. Years go by, the pastor marries, and they have four beautiful daughters. Everyone asked where this son of his was, but he was just as confused as they were. He never stopped telling that story, though. Years down the road, his oldest daughter fell in love with a man at the age of 13. The man was 22. They started dating and she became pregnant at 17. They married even though the relationship was not a healthy one, and one day when they were visiting the pastor, the husband told his wife to get in the car but to leave the baby behind. Later on that night, both of them were found dead in their car on the side of the road. The husband left a note explaining why he did what he did. The child that was left at the pastor’s house was a boy – his grandson. The little boy was only a few months old at the time and he had been named after his father, the man who murdered his mother. After the pastor adopted his grandchild, he renamed him David. The son he was promised, although he did not come in the neat, little box the pastor probably imagined.
I realize this is a very tragic story. I hope you or I don’t have to experience something like this, but this story reminds me that we don’t always go through A, B, and C so we can end up at D. Sometimes we have to go through L, M, N, O, P before we get to B. When I freak out about something or am unsure of something else, I can remind myself that God might provide in a totally different way than I expect.
God doesn’t want to fit into a box. He wants to go ten times beyond your wildest imagination. He wants to show us that a life apart from Him is absolutely nothing compared to a life with Him. Maybe you have felt something so strongly for so long but it’s never come to fruition. Maybe you’re expecting this thing to be built with two walls, a floor, and a ceiling, but God’s plan for you won’t fit in that box. Kick it to the curb, send it home with the yard boy, torch it at your next bomb fire. Let go of the box and see where faith takes you.
“Love rolled away the stone, raised Jesus from the grave, and showed us, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that God can do anything.”