Mini-Thought: Submitting When It Doesn’t Make Sense

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God doesn’t always make sense.

At least, not to us. From where we stand, His decisions and the things He allows in our lives are often confusing, rarely (if ever!) matching up with our own preconceived ideas about how His plans should work—and it’s been that way for roughly the entire span of human existence. From cover to cover, the Bible is filled with stories of men and women who were puzzled by their Creator’s actions (and inactions), only to discover later He was working out something far greater than they could have ever imagined.

Take the arrival of the Messiah, for instance. When the Jews (who seemed to spend more time in captivity than not) read the prophecies about the coming of Messiah, they saw the promise of a Savior who would overthrow the Roman Empire and usher in a golden age of justice and peace. They were so certain that this was how God’s plan would look that when Jesus Christ arrived on the scene, they crucified the very Savior they had been awaiting.

What the Jews didn’t understand was that God’s plan was so much bigger than conquering the Romans. Jesus Christ will indeed free God’s people from the clutches of oppression—but something else had to come first. That “something” was a perfect, blameless sacrifice that allowed God’s followers to find forgiveness and freedom from the eternal death penalty earned by sin. The Jews had built a man-made box of requirements for their God to fit inside, and in their desire to find their physical liberator, they couldn’t see their spiritual redeemer.

Misbelief and a misstep

The disciples weren’t immune, either. Almost immediately before Christ’s arrest and crucifixion, the Bible record that the disciples were busy arguing over “which of them should be considered the greatest” (Luke 22:24). Despite their Master’s continual warnings about His impending death, the disciples seemed to cling to the belief that Christ had come, not to die, but to “restore the kingdom to Israel” (Acts 1:6). I can’t help but wonder what was going through the minds of the disciples when Jesus told Peter, “before the rooster crows twice, you will deny Me three times” (Mark 14:30). Whatever their thoughts, they all responded by insisting, “If I have to die with You, I will not deny You!” (Mark 14:31).

They were each of them mistaken. When the mob came to seize Jesus, “they all forsook Him and fled” (Mark 14:50). They had all told themselves that they were willing to go to the grave with Jesus, but that’s an easy commitment to make when you believe your leader isn’t going to die. When push came to shove and Christ restrained them from fighting, they turned tail and ran. They weren’t prepared to follow Christ where they had not expected Him to go. Like the Jews, the disciples had built a box for God—and when God didn’t fit the way they expected, their commitment faltered.

Our own commitment

We made a commitment at baptism. We gave our lives to our Creator and agreed to follow Him wherever it was He might lead us—in this life and the next. We promised to submit ourselves entirely to His will, whatever that might be.

How well are we doing? Because God won’t always make sense to us. He’s given us a broad outline of His plan, but that doesn’t mean we’re going to grasp the details—and it certainly doesn’t mean we should be expecting Him to complete that plan in the manner that makes the most sense to us. As He works in our lives, we need to be willing to submit to Him as He prepares us for His Kingdom. Just because something doesn’t make sense doesn’t mean it’s not exactly what we need.

Here’s the rule: if God is allowing it in your life, it’s for a reason. For “we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28). If the Master of the universe put something in motion, you can stake your life on the fact that there is a very good reason for it.

Trusting in God

IMG_0595 (1024x683)Today, the followers of God are fasting—putting away food and drink for 24 hours and humbling ourselves before our Creator, being mindful of the truth that “Man shall not live by bread alone” (Matthew 4:4). As we do so, it would do us good to keep in mind that complete understanding of the path before us isn’t a requirement to get where we’re going. Trusting the One leading us is.

The Israelites were looking for a Savior to bring them a physical kingdom; God was preparing His Son to bring them the doorway to eternal life. If we can’t understand what God is doing in our lives, it’s only because it is part of something so incredible, we can’t even begin to dream it. When we begin to truly submit ourselves to God in every way and in every moment, we will find ourselves on our way to a future so much brighter than any we could ever hope for.

The only way to get there is to follow, even when it doesn’t make sense.

Until next time,
Jeremy

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