Posted on Monday, Jan 03, 2022 by Scott Savage
Nod your head as you read the following questions if it is an experience you’ve had in the last two years.
- Have you had a trip canceled?
- Have you had a family gathering canceled?
- Have you had a plan derailed or blown up?
- Have you experienced a mindset like cynicism, pessimism, or distrust?
- Have you wondered if it was worth it to even make a plan or dream about the future?
If you nodded your head at any of those questions, you are not alone! If you nodded your head at ALL of them, then you and I have something in common.
After all of the challenges we’ve endured, there’s a cost to our hearts and minds. I feel it personally. Normally, as one year ends and another begins, I get excited and stirred by praying, dreaming, setting goals, and planning for the future. Truthfully, though, I’ve not felt that urge this year.
The temptation I am feeling is to not make plans or dream after so many cancellations in the last two years. I am very tempted to not make plans after being disappointed again and again. Why put in the work when the results are outside of my control? How do I make plans when something may destroy them? What am I missing when it seems like others are succeeding while I am just treading water?
I appreciate the honesty at the beginning of @Hillsong United’s song, “Know You Will.” They sing
“When the road runs dead.
You can see a way I don't.
And it makes no sense.”
So much of this time has been hard and it makes no sense.
RELATED CONTENT: Hillsong United “Know You Will”
Amidst these intense emotions and difficult questions, I recently heard an invitation from God. It’s an invitation you may be hearing whispered to you, as well.
What if God were inviting us to dream and plan again, even and especially right now? What if you made space to consider what changes would honor God and the life He’s given you? What is the opportunity He’s put in front of you, with the gifts He’s put in your hands?
A friend recently reminded me of a truth that cut through the fog of my intense reactions and negative mindsets. He reminded me that I had gotten my role and God’s role confused. He pointed me to Proverbs 16:9, where the writer noted, “We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps.” It’s our role to plan our steps in advance and it’s God’s role to determine our steps in the moment.
His observation sent me on a journey through my past planning times, when I was convinced of the power of planning and the importance of holding tight to a vision. I was reminded of the invitation God gave the prophet, Habakkuk, in chapter 2 of his book in the Bible.
“Then the Lord said to me, ‘Write my answer plainly on tablets, so that a runner can carry the correct message to others. This vision is for a future time. It describes the end, and it will be fulfilled. If it seems slow in coming, wait patiently, for it will surely take place. It will not be delayed.’”
That’s the hard part of planning and dreaming, huh? The hard part is the space between the plan being made and the plan becoming reality. God is brutally honest with Habakkuk (and all of us) about what to expect. The vision isn’t for now; it’s for the future. The vision may feel like it’s slow in coming to fruition. The vision will demand patience from us. We will begin to wonder, “is this ever going to happen?!”
As I was out on a walk, pondering these realities and the state of my heart, I remembered that in just a few days, there’s an anniversary coming. It was this time of year a few years ago, when a pastor who had a huge impact on me passed away.
His mantra that echoes in my heart above all else he taught me was “Scott, obedience doesn’t require understanding.” I don’t understand all the cancellations, heartbreaks and disappointments in my life the last two years. I know you don’t understand the same in your life either. Why, God, why?!
At some point I added a second sentence after that quote of my former pastor. Obedience doesn’t require understanding, but it does require trust. Obedience requires our trust in God to be greater than our desire to remain in control, more than our desire to stay safe.
I’m not God and I would never pretend to know how He speaks in anyone’s heart. But, if this devotion has resonated with you, these might be the questions God is whispering to you.
Will you trust me again?
Will you hope again?
Will you focus on obedience and trust me with the outcome?
Those aren’t easy questions to answer. The answers aren’t always as simple as yes or no. They bring up emotions like fear, shame, anger, and sadness.
I invite you to take a walk this week and reflect on the invitation God is offering you at the beginning of this year. It may seem scary, but on the other side of your fear is a new experience of intimacy and union with Christ.
This year, may you invite Jesus into your past pain to heal the hurt from what has been lost. May you invite Jesus into your cynicism, skepticism, and distrust and allow Him to mend your wound, so true healing can begin. May you invite Jesus into your resistance to planning and allow Him to direct your steps. May you begin to trust that God is more committed to your best than you are. May you trust that He Ioves you just as you are today and no failed or unfulfilled plan will grow or diminish that love.
Scott Savage is a pastor and a writer with the coolest last name ever. He leads Cornerstone Church in Prescott, Arizona. Scott is married to Dani and they are the parents of three “little savages.” He helps hurting people forgive others through his Free to Forgive course and you can read more of his writing at scottsavagelive.com