“Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure; for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall.” Peter 1:10
From my book The Christian Church in the Last Days
As I explore the narrative stories of the people of faith in the Bible, I see God deliberately leading and maneuvering people into challenging trials, almost impossibly tight circumstances, and nearly hopeless situations, way beyond our natural desire for worldly soft, conventional normalcy. Like inspired athletic coaches pushing their players towards excellence achieved through total commitment, the God of the Bible sets up unimaginably unconventional scenarios that require faith and trust to break through to a positive outcome for our eternal benefit (Judges 7:2). This has been the experience in my own life that informs my understanding of the Bible and the writing of this book.
It is certainly not Abraham’s idea to sacrifice Isaac on Mount Moriah. It is not Joseph’s plan to eventually end up in Pharaoh’s prison. It is not the fault of Moses that Pharaoh’s heart is stubbornly hardened and bent on keeping the Israelites as slaves in Egypt. The singularly unique strategy for Gideon to defeat the invading Midianites is God’s plan…Gideon would never come up with this battle plan in his wildest imagination. Similarly, the unusual military strategy for Joshua to bring down the walls of Jericho belongs entirely to God.
The anointing of David by the prophet Samuel to become the future king of Israel did not include the relevant information that a jealous King Saul would pursue David to kill him. Ruth’s decision to follow Naomi is in response to the unexpected death of Ruth’s husband. The deadly confrontation between the three young Hebrews and King Nebuchadnezzar regarding the idol worship of the King’s image is not of their making. Daniel is completely innocent of any wrongdoing as he is being lowered into the lion’s den. The desperate plan of Esther and Mordecai to derail Haman’s evil scheme to destroy the Jews, balances precariously on a knife’s edge. Nehemiah faces enormous external opposition in his attempt to rebuild the walls surrounding Jerusalem. Jeremiah’s best prophetic utterances to reform Israel end in outward failure.
It is not the plan of Peter and John that God should heal the crippled man at the gate called Beautiful leading into the temple on that particular morning, initiating a remarkable cascade of events resulting in Peter and John being “set in the midst” of the Sanhedrin council (Acts 4:7). The Holy Spirit empowered witness of these two disciples to the resurrection of Jesus is so committedly fearless and forthright that Peter and John were probably not only amazed at their own courageous stand, but members of the Sanhedrin “marveled” at their boldness (Acts 4:13). The opposition that Paul faced continuously throughout his evangelical ministry to take the gospel message to the first-century Greco-Roman world is not of his making (Acts 26:22-23).
If we are engaged in a biblical-quality adventure of faith, God will eventually take us to places where we do not want to go, to fulfill unseen potential within us and to stretch our faith, both for personal growth and for the benefit of others (Luke 22:42). We all have a tendency to want to do things our way (Isaiah 53:6). Each of us to some extent has trouble listening to others…listening to parents, a spouse, family members, children, friends, co-workers, and listening to God. We all want to stay within the comfort zone of our own ideas and our own ways of doing things. Only our Creator God could beneficially override this innate tendency by inserting supernatural plans and outcomes into our everyday lives. But this requires our willing cooperation, and faith and trust in God’s character and intentions.