Pages

Monday, August 2, 2010

God's Next Move (?)

Today I spent a couple of hours at Value Village. It's like a "Goodwill" Store, and sells every kind of second hand clothing and household items that you could imagine. It's not hard to lose total track of time there, as you wander from aisle to aisle, seeking those bargain prices. My friend Deb calls it being "sucked into the Value Village Vortex." (She is a fellow VV Boutique Junkie.)

As I usually do when I am in there, I perused the used books for a while. One that I particularly noticed was titled "The Next Move of God." It seemed a fairly presumptuous title to me. Kind of sounded as if the author imagined that he had an inside scoop on what God might be up to next. To be fair, I should have at least leafed through it before making any judgements regarding its content. But we do often hear writers and preachers speak of God's "next" or "new" move. And today, after seeing that book title, I began to think about the idea that God was making certain "moves", new or otherwise.

Hasn't God always been "moving", from the beginning, from the time He created the heavens and the earth, and His Spirit "was moving over the surface of the waters?" (Genesis 1:2) He is continually working out His plans and purposes, dealing with mankind in judgement, or mercy, always according to His holy, all wise nature. Always moving, always sovereignly in charge, He never slumbers or sleeps.

Does He ever do a "new" thing? I suppose He does things that we haven't personally seen or experienced before. But I wonder, is it just our modern day thirst for something "new and improved" that makes us think that God is always planning some new, amazing "thing" that He has never done before? Preachers, writers, speakers are often predicting the next thing He might do, or explaining what He is currently doing. But is He really doing anything "new"? Does He need to? What He has been doing, all along, has been effective, more effective than we will know in this life. Maybe the difference is that, from time to time, people are simply responding to Him in a greater way.

We seem to love change. We love to label "movements", even within the Church: the Charismatic movement, the Shepherding movement, the House Church movement...the list goes on. Certainly God may be involved in these things, but isn't He simply acting according the continuum of the plans He has made from eternity? He calls, He saves, He leads, He enables. He stirs our hearts to love Him, and gives us a vision of His own heart. He is the Maestro, the Master Planner, our Great Teacher, wooing us along, bending our will to His own. Is He on the move? Always. Can we predict what He might do next? I think for the most part, He chooses to reveal just enough to us to allow us to take that one next step, leaving the results up to Him.

My hope and prayer is that I will stay close enough to hear His whispers, follow His leading, and stay in step with what He might be doing in the world around me. I'm so thankful that even when we are lagging behind, He will continue to work, to move in our hearts, completing that good work that He started.

7 comments:

bibl774 said...

Peter watched Jesus make his way toward him... washing the feet of other disciples.
It had already been a confusing Passover. Jesus had been unusually burdened... close to tears all day. The atmosphere during the meal was charged with ominous anticipation.
Peter had grown used to Jesus doing and saying unpredictable things. But what Jesus was doing now was wrong. He was the last person in the room who should be washing feet.
All of Peter’s life he had been taught that feet were dishonorable members of the body. They were usually dirty.. frequently smelly.. and among the most likely members to come in contact with things that the Law declared unclean.
Outside of immediate family.. feet were washed by slaves and servants...ideally non-Jews so as not to subject any of the Covenant People to such humiliation.
And one never insulted an honored person by pointing one’s feet at them.
But here was the Messiah.. the most honored Jew to ever walk the earth... stripped like a common slave with a towel around his waist willingly handling the unclean feet of his disciples. This was backwards. If anything, Peter should be down there washing Jesus’ feet.
When Jesus got to Peter he smiled at him and reached for his feet. Peter pulled them back. “Lord, do you wash my feet?”
Jesus loved Peter. The Rock never did anything.. right or wrong.. without jumping in with..or in this case withholding...both feet. He knew what Peter was thinking. So he replied... “What I am doing you do not understand now... but afterward you will understand.”

First.. much of the Christian life is spent trusting Jesus now and understanding him later. Jesus typically does not feel it necessary to explain on the front end why he is doing something the way he is doing it. And.. like Peter.. when it looks wrong to us.. we are tempted to object to the Lord’s will.
God understands and is patient with our confusion and even our deep wrestling or grief. But he wants us to trust him and not grumble. God’s ways are not our ways (Isaiah 55:8). His purposes for bringing or not bringing certain things to pass often extend far beyond us...maybe even generations beyond us.
So during those times we need to remember Jesus’ words to Peter: “What I am doing you do not understand now... but afterward you will understand.”
Second... what Jesus is bringing about in the sometimes confusing.. sometimes very painful work he is doing in our lives is sanctification. He is washing our feet. He not only bathes us... completely removing the guilt of our sin in his cleansing work on the cross.. but in love he keeps forgiving us (1 John 1:9) and disciplines us so that we will share his holiness (Hebrews 12:10-11).
Our understanding his purposes in a particular providence tends to be not as important to God as our trust in his character. So together let’s continue to “trust in the Lord with all [our] heart... and…not lean on [our] own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5). Because one day we will understand. And we will.. with great joy, proclaim, “The Lord is righteous in all his ways and kind in all his works” (Psalm 145:17).

Barb

Hold my hand: a social worker's blog said...

And you found a treasure in that store... the treasure of a profound reflection to share with us. Beautiful post.

Doris Plaster

Maureen said...

Hi Barb. Thanks for your rich comment. This stood out for me:

"God understands and is patient with our confusion and even our deep wrestling or grief. But he wants us to trust him and not grumble. God’s ways are not our ways (Isaiah 55:8). His purposes for bringing or not bringing certain things to pass often extend far beyond us...maybe even generations beyond us."

It is a continual struggle for us to simply trust God with the timing and results of whatever we may be going through at any given time. As you said, it may be generations in the future before the results are evident. Hard for this generation that so often seeks, and has readily obtainable, instant gratification and results at the push of a button.

Maureen said...

Doris..so nice to meet you! Thanks for stopping by and leaving your kind comment.

I love "treasure hunts". So often the best treasures aren't hidden at all....they are right there for us to have, in the sound of birds singing happily, or the delight of a grandchild snuggling close and saying "I love you gramma." The ones that are worth the most are free for the taking.

Suppresst said...

You wrote:

"We love to label 'movements', even within the Church: the Charismatic movement, the Shepherding movement, the House Church movement...the list goes on."

Well, movements are a way for persons in professional ministry to make a buck, right? I agree with your post - we can justly wonder at whether in some "movement" God is doing something new or not. Rather than do something new, it seems to me that Christians have a big enough job to figure out what God intended us to do in the first place, as spelled out in Scripture (certainly not the institutional church).

Suppresst said...

I should also like to comment that anyone who claims to perceive God's next move has this obstacle to overcome - the Scripture says:

"It is the glory of God to conceal a matter" - Proverbs 25:2

Petra said...

I can relate to the Goodwill store losing-track-of-time experience (especially in the used book isle), but I never thought about writing an edifying piece about it! Thank you for this great piece and much needed observation. We're so adamant about feeding our eternal hunger that we miss eternity.