Isiah 55:8-9 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord…”
Ever have one of those experiences grocery shopping where you buy items with the goal in mind to make a particular dish? I do it all the time. Tomatoes look fantastic today! Ooo, I think I’ll make that broccoli tomato salad. Mangoes are on special, think I’ll try that recipe for mango salsa. Sure. Fine. Good, until life happens. Hubby craves that mango before dinner and it’s gone and he snacked away the tomatoes during his favorite “Top Gear” episode. My current fridge raider is Bruce so there’s no escaping blame when it happens.
We’ve been on a personal journey for a few years. It began when I stopped working in the secular world, continued as we found a home church, expanded when all the girls moved out and is evolving as I write. During this process I’ve planned sooooo many plans! My plans were always excellent, fabulous, exciting, financially achievable, ministry bent, emotionally healthy, fun, challenging…In my plans God was directing all the things that would bring us to my destinations. My plans were Kingdom driven and noble. They were mindful of our kids. They kept us young in mind and spirit. There was nothing in my plans to find fault with, nothing–except they were mine.
Have you ever wanted something from God? Prayed for him to do something? Provide something? Change your feelings? Eliminate your emotional pain? Rescue someone or something? Redeem a situation? Bring a friend, job, food, home or clothes? Magically take off weight? Save your loved ones? Fill your bank account? Retirement account? Fix your car, washer, dryer, pipes and fence? Find a parking space? My husband excels at that prayer, it’s always answered and his response is “Clean living”…smug.
Praying for all these things is confirmation that we expect God hears and answers. He sees us, knows us, is there for us, hears our distress cries and knows our needs even before we ask them. It’s what we expect from someone who loves us. It’s what we expect from a parent, spouse or close friend. They want what’s best for us, they know what we’re like and what will suit our circumstance. And surely, if God is a closer friend than a brother, if he’s God of the fatherless, if he tenderly nurtures us as a mother does her child then it’s only logical that God will behave in those ways.
If there is anything at all that I am currently learning about God, it’s that he is different than anyone else I’ve known. He is NOT like all the people in my life, good or bad, healthy or weak, sane and insane (I have a few). Often, because Genesis says I was “created in his image” I come away thinking the images of my life people look like God’s.
And because God is different than anyone I know, his way of doing things is different. He just doesn’t do things the way I plan for him to! Dang! Just when I think I’ve got a handle on how he’s going to work in any given situation he surprises me. I lean toward “seat of the pants” living in many ways so it’s okay if he surprises me once in awhile, but all the time?! Yep, that’s how he rolls. I used to say, “God doesn’t always answer prayer the way I expect him to” now I say “He NEVER does what I think he’s going to”. Never? Yep, NEVER. He can’t. He is intrinsically different than me. He can’t do it my way because then it wouldn’t be his. And being his way is the only way that works for my benefit both in this life and the next.
I’m learning that God’s time/space continuum is one. His timeline is eternal not earthly. What happens in us now continues eternally. The now sets in motion things that will be used forever. If we’re looking for answers that fit a particular school of thought politically, financially, socially or even religiously they are inconsequential if they aren’t first, Kingdomly relevant. The Kingdom is, and is to come. Kingdom is now and forever. Kingdom has BC and AD people. Kingdom has jobs, purpose, value and most of all, God himself.
The beauty is that everything in the Kingdom has been repurposed, (redeemed for old timers). It was all bought and paid for by the King, he owns it and he uses it as he wishes. Every nasty, wicked, evil and ugly thing can and is reused in his Kingdom. Every abuse, pain, sorrow, hurt and brokenness is mended, healed and restored. We’re big on repurposing. We’ve done a lot of it and it always brings a sense of satisfaction. I have that picture in my mind when thinking about how God restores our lives. He diligently and sometimes harshly, strips the old then sands and smooths the wood applying finish to protect and reflect, his image not mine. It’s a process and there are no shortcuts. It takes time, effort, commitment and patience but the results are well worth it.
Back to our journey. I’m still in the process of seeing where our finished product is going to fit and be useful. My patience is wearing thin some days. I struggle with the limits of my chosen path. Parts of me are eager to embrace something bigger, more active, larger and busier. But my repurposer continues to say “wait”. Bruce consistently says that God is a 3 dimensional God. When he’s working in one aspect of our lives he’s also accomplishing things in other people at the same time and building it into a 3D model that will achieve a greater purpose. I can get behind that-most days. Other days…I just wish I could be one dimensional and get on with things.
Isaiah 55 is such a poetic illustration of how God does things HIS way…
“For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.”
I’ll take some heavenly thoughts and ways today, every day for that matter! But could He just quicken up the timeline???