Wonder if that title got anyone’s attention. It sounds so contrary to my life messages I’ve spoken about for over two decades: God given dreams, passions and giftings to be used for service, God’s omnipotence and wisdom too lofty for us to understand.
“Not one of these people, even though their lives of faith were exemplary, got their hands on what was promised” (Hebrews 11:39).
It’s amazing to hear from God. Our faith is stirred, we’re fired up, we walk in the confidence of God-given purpose! But often enough, either our pride or insecurity rises up and we start to “add” to God’s plan. Our minds begin to concoct grandiose plans over His simple instructions. We make assumptions, human wisdom and logic gets in the way, or we start hungering for a part of the glory. Before we know it, frustration gives way to discouragement and anger, and possibly give up.
Hebrews 11 is referred to as the faith chapter, listing Bible heroes who accomplished great things for God. Most of them displayed two worthy and exemplary qualities:
Faithfulness – complete performance of duty; true to one’s word; loyal and constant
Obedience – following commands, orders, wishes, or instructions.
Despite those traits, they still battled their own humanity. But get this…
- Abraham was to be the father of many nations (Genesis 12:1-3, 17:1-16). While faith was required, and later obedience in “sacrificing” Isaac, he never saw the fulfillment of that promise in his lifetime. Yet, he forged ahead.
- Jacob received a similar promise to his grandfather, even before he was born (Genesis 25:23, 28:14-15). And while he had many sons through Leah and Rachel, it was still nowhere near what God intended.
- Moses was commissioned to lead the people of Israel out of Egypt and to the Promised Land (Exodus 3:10, 33:1-3). This gets a little more intense because after the 40 year journey across the desert with murmuring people, Moses wasn’t allowed to enter the promise. But God allows him to see it. What a heartbreaking moment that must have been. The joy being used by God, but now it would be time to turn it over to another: Joshua.
- David was the second king of Israel, proving himself to be a brilliant military leader. But even greater was his heart after God in prayer and in song. Through Nathan the prophet, God promised that the future and security of Israel would come through his descendants. David wanted one more thing: to express his thankfulness to God in the form of a temple, an earthly dwelling place for the Almighty (2 Samuel 7). That was a great and noble idea, but God never asked for it, and the task was reserved for David’s own son. I’m not going to read into this situation. I believe David was content in God’s blessing and wanted to please Him. But, I can imagine there was at least slight disappointment about it because it was one of his great passions.
Our agendas, desires and ideas are immaterial if we’re submitted to His Lordship. Someone once told me, “Faith isn’t what we want but what gets us through.” As I do often, I like to tweak his wisdom just a tad, “Faith isn’t what we want but what God wants…His best.” The bottom line: what we accomplish is nowhere near how we accomplish it. We might be able to produce similar results, but if we choose our way versus God’s way…look out. Samson tried. King Saul tried. Uzzah tried. The kings of Israel and Judah tried. Peter tried. Failure after failure after failure.
I recently had a word for a leader in our church, just some simple thoughts meant to encourage and relieve expectations:
- Let obedience outweigh success. Outcomes don’t mean as much to God as our surrendered hearts.
- Let obedience trump need. We can’t save the world or do everything but we can impact and influence our corner of it. Let us focus on where He leads.
- Let obedience be enough. We might not see the completion of our dreams in our lifetimes; but know that our obedience plays a part in its ultimate fulfillment. God’s dreams really are bigger than ours.
“God had a better plan for us: that their faith and our faith would come together to make one completed whole, their lives of faith not complete apart from ours.”
God’s instructions are sacred and to be followed immediately and efficiently.
God’s calling on others is not our concern.
We are all given a part to play and something to accomplish.
But all are important to God’s Master Design.
Christ’s ultimate and victorious return and reign!
All for His Glory!