1 Chronicles 28:1-9
The gathering was massive. Thousands of men had been summoned to listen to their king. As I often like to do, I placed myself among them to hear and see as they did. I was among men who loved, served and fought for this man, King David. If you are at all patriotic, you can imagine with me the atmosphere of this gathering. So I listened, but soon I was no longer back there, so long ago. I am right here, right now and my heart is hearing what it needs to hear.
“I had it in my heart to build a house as a place of rest for the ark of the covenant of the LORD, for the footstool of our God, and I made plans to build it. But God said to me, ‘You are not to build a house for my Name…”
What will I do? How will I respond when the picture I had for my life changes? How hard will it be for me when the plans I’ve made get scrapped?
I don’t get to live comfortably, surrounded by pretty things and signs of financial success?
I never get to write that book, build that ministry, retire with a nest egg, retire at all, play that stage, get that job, have that child or find that spouse?
What if life suddenly looks different than I thought it would?
What if my identity in Christ and my eternal destination…all of the spiritual truths concerning me and my life, are the only things that are unchanging? What if everything else is in an etch-a-sketch?
(What if I discover that I often get those two confused?)
How tightly I grip the plans that lie in my own heart may determine my reaction when God ditches them for the plan in His heart.
A number of years ago, God shook my etch-a-sketch life and it exposed my heart. Fear. Pride.
Self-reliance Self-everything. Unbelief. Anger. All there, hidden beneath my plans and my piety. God was ditching my plan for His, and the process was painful. God wasn’t hurting me, it was my response to the change in plans that brought the pain. I cried, I grieved, I kicked and I pouted, and I gave in to fear many times throughout the process. I struggled to believe that what God was doing could be good, let alone better than what I wanted. As it turned out, I could not have been more wrong.
That kind of shaking can also expose a person’s true perspective of God. We may discover that we really believe Him to be angry, or at least very stern, and always looking for a reason to bring some painful discipline our way to teach us a lesson. That He is, at a minimum, very disappointed in us.
What if God shakes away our plans, not only because He has something better, but because He is going after something deadly in us? What if what God delights in is not teaching us a lesson, but us?
God once again has His hand on my etch-a-sketch life. How will I respond this time? What if I choose to believe what is written in stone?
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11)
What if I loosen my grip, open my hand and let my plans fall out, because He opens His hand to show me scars that say “I love you”?
“The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.” (Zephaniah 3:17)
What if I choose to believe that God has a song and not a whip? That He is delighted, not disappointed?
“Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.” (Isaiah 43:1)
What if “fear not” is really possible, because He is mine and I am His?
What if I choose to dance rather than mourn? Sing rather than weep? Trust instead of fear?
“I will make an everlasting covenant with them: I will never stop doing good to them, and I will inspire them to fear me, so that they will never turn away from me. I will rejoice in doing them good and will assuredly plant them in this land with all my heart and soul.” (Jeremiah 32:40-41)
What if that is God’s heart…written in stone.