This season of waiting and preparing and listening that I find myself going through right now can be described in a lot of different ways.
It is unsettling and uneasy and unclear.
It is longer than I had hoped and quieter than I would like.
It is a place of longing and expectancy and hope mixed with moments of grief and frustration and fear. It is a strange mix of confidence and concern.
It is a season I didn’t know was coming. I thought I knew the plan.
I was reminded today that the plan that God is unfolding in and through my life does not always look like the plan from my seat.
Just like it didn’t look like the plan to Joseph when he learned that Mary was pregnant and he knew he was not the father. And it didn’t look like the plan to Mary’s family or the leaders of the synagogue in Nazareth.
It didn’t look like the plan to the elders of Israel when they heard of this young teacher from Galilee who was gaining so much attention. It didn’t look like the plan to Jesus’ disciples when Jesus talked about going to the cross and rising from the grave.
It didn’t look like the plan to the believers in Jerusalem when their beloved brother Stephen was stoned to death by the Jews or when James was executed by Herod or when Peter was thrown in jail.
So maybe the pieces of the plan that God is unfolding for my life don’t look—to me or to you—like something God would do.
I’ve been walking with Jesus for a long time. We’ve had some crazy twists and turns in this journey that I never could have imagined. I have taken some pretty significant steps of faith because of what I believed to have been the direction of the Holy Spirit. And on many of those occasions I have had people question those steps. I have had people I deeply love and greatly respect stand back and suggest to me that God wouldn’t direct such a step.
Here is the thing about christians as a whole: we have a strong tendency to think that God has the same perspective that we do. To put it slightly more pointedly… You think you know a whole lot more than you know.
We tend to see the things that don’t line up with our understanding of Scripture as contrary to the Word without considering that it may be our understanding of the Word that is out of line. We tend to hold our perceptions of what the Bible teaches on equal standing with the Bible itself.
But consider with me.
When you think you know… you’re not in much of a posture to learn.
When you think you know… there is nothing that doesn’t fit your understanding that can be part of the plan.
When you think you know… you limit the work of God to what you can understand.
(Yes, that is as absurd as it sounds.)
When you think you know… you don’t need the Spirit to teach, guide, and transform you.
What is the point of all of this?
Just like what LOOKED to the religious experts like an illegitimate pregnancy was actually the means of the Messiah’s arrival…
And just like what LOOKED to the authorities like an untrained, unendorsed rabbi was actually the Author of the Scriptures they so esteemed…
…what you think you know might not be true at all.
Almighty God has, in some ways, chosen to limit Himself. But let’s be really clear—your understanding of Him is NOT a limiting factor to the Creator.
He will use things and people and circumstances that you might think unfit or unusable or unseemly or unholy to accomplish His plan. He will lead people to do things that do not seem godly to you He will direct someone’s steps on a path you could never imagine Him directing.
Am I sure about this? Absolutely so. He’s documented several thousands of years of such. And along the way He has reminded us pretty plainly that we can’t get it or understand it all:
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD.Isaiah 55.8
I don’t know what I often think that I know.
Can you acknowledge it too—that you don’t know what you think you know?