Judges 7:4--Then the Lord said to Gideon, “There are still too many people. Take them down to the water, and I will test them for you there. If I say to you, ‘This one can go with you,’ he can go. But if I say about anyone, ‘This one cannot go with you,’ he cannot go.
Imagine you are the commander of 32,000 soldiers faced with the impossible task of fighting an army that numbered more than 135,000 troops with camels that “ . . . were as innumerable as the sand on the seashore” (Jud.7:12). You have no battle experience. You’ve never led troops before. God places you in charge and while you are in the process of forming your ragtag army informs you that you have too many men. He then chooses 300 soldiers for you to lead and has you send the rest home! Meet Gideon. It happened to him! If you want to read an incredible battle check out Judges chapter 7 and see how Gideon’s band of 300 fared against an enemy 450 times larger!
Every one of us will encounter times in our lives when we face challenges. It is not uncommon for us to concoct a plan that will enable us to succeed. Then as we grow in excitement over our “concept of operation” we go to God and ask for His blessing. But this can often turn in to an earthly way to do heavenly business and it is fraught with hazard. Suppose God has a different plan in mind than ours? If we push forward with our own agenda He may well let us proceed but at the cost of missing His will.
I remember before I started a church, I read every book that I could find on church planting. They contained excellent ideas and foolproof methods guaranteed to bring growth if the principles were followed. There was nothing wrong with the methods and in fact some proved helpful. But many of the techniques we incorporated cost money and yielded no fruit. For example, we spent over $5000. to mail out 20,000 professional-looking flyers inviting people in our community to come to our grand opening. Less than ½ of 1% showed up for the big event! What went wrong?
We threw a grand opening because that’s what our leaders, the books we read, and all the church-planting gurus said we needed to do. We asked God to bless our methods. But we failed to find out God’s plan! If there had been a great turnout I wonder if we would have given God the credit or patted ourselves on the back for pulling off a great strategy. Looking back, I have concluded that we were a relational church. People came and stayed because they formed meaningful relationships. We were not an event-oriented church. Therefore, by putting our time and resources into a grand event, we portrayed ourselves in a way that was not accurate with our actual identity. I don’t believe we ever needed a grand opening. We were doing fine developing relationships in a slow but effective manner. God of course knew this. If only we had listened to Him and resisted the pressure to trust our own methods.
There are several keys to discovering God’s plan. First, and probably foremost, is the practice of prayer—listening prayer. If we want to know God’s thoughts we need to listen for His guidance. He may speak to us through the Bible. He may impress upon our hearts what we should do. (I knew in my heart we should not throw a grand opening but I was afraid to listen). He may guide us through the wise counsel of others. He may divinely intervene through circumstances engineered by our willingness to wait.
God can hardly show Himself as awesome if we fail to hold Him in awe! So, before you and I jump into action with some clever scheme we’ve adopted, let’s step back and ask God what He would have us do. Give Him time to respond and trust that He knows what He is doing. You won’t regret it! After all, God’s will, done in God’s way yields godly results—something to think about . . . in reveration.
We have to find out God’s methods not try to get God to approve our methods.—Oswald Chambers in God’s Workmanship
©1998 Daniel York ARR. Reveration is the weekly devotional ministry of First Cause. If you would like to receive these devotionals go to www.firstcause.org and click on the “Click here to receive weekly devotionals” box. Unlimited permission to copy this devotional without altering text or profiteering is allowed subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.
Ecclesiastes 12:10-The Teacher sought to find delightful sayings and to accurately write words of truth. (Holman CSB)