Yesterday we spent a few hours outside digging out. Dash is our Rhodesian ridgeback hound. He wanted to be out there with us; he wasn’t much help but was great for companionship. There is a problem though: he sometimes would get in the way. I would try to get a big shovelful and Dash would be right where I wanted to be scooping. He would be standing where I wanted to throw the snow. Or the wind would blow some of it back on him. Each time he would give me this wounded look as if I had been targeting him. He actually does the same when we are trying to vacuum—as if we were purposely chasing him from room-to-room. Kind of reminded me that sometimes I can do the same with God.
God is at work on accomplishing His BIGGER purpose, but all I am aware of at the moment is that I feel like He has targeted me for trials and/or frustration. I am even capable of giving Him that same wounded look and maybe even a cry: “What are You doing to me?!” Could it be that I have as much understanding of His ways as my dog has about what I was trying to do? Could it be that my lack of understanding has actually gotten me “in the way?”
We can see some of this throughout the Bible in both positive and negative examples. Daniel was one who had a heart to grasp even the deep things of God. He was able to survive the rise and fall of three different kingdoms. Nehemiah was one that was so focused in on God’s purpose that he “got in the way” of everybody else--- all those who wanted to slow down or stop the building of the Wall.
David gives us a lengthy example of how we are to stay out of the way of God’s vengeance. Do you realize that when we want to take our own revenge, we actually are getting in God’s way of justice and could even end up ourselves being disciplined by Him?? Twice David could have taken revenge on Saul but withheld his hand; God blessed him and kept him safe until He replaced Saul with David. In 1 Samuel 25, David sets out to take his own revenge on Nabal— he is going to handle this one himself! God graciously sends Abigail to stop him; then God deals with Nabal Himself. God did not need David’s help; David was only in the way.
Paul has people who are actually badmouthing and using his being in prison as a way to build their “kingdoms” ( Philippians 1). Does Paul get burned or distracted?? No, he rejoices that the Gospel is going forth. “Paul’s praises” will have to take a backseat to the greater purpose of the Gospel going forth.
Another incident of Paul was his thorn in flesh. Paul cried out to God three times to remove it because he felt it was getting in the way of God’s purposes for his life. God actually tells him that the thorn IS His purpose. God wants to show His strength was greater than Paul’s weakness. He was a showcase of God’s overcoming grace. Paul now has the spiritual maturity and perspective to accept what had been unacceptable before. No feeling sorry for himself; he would now celebrate his disappointments and frustration because they would be constant reminders of God’s greater purpose for him.
Dash will never be able to understand that I have a greater purpose and I am not targeting him. Psalm 32: 8 and 9 actually make a similar comparison. God instructs us that we are to look to Him for His is guiding of us with His eye upon us. We are NOT to be like the horse or mule that are clueless to know where the Master is leading but instead have to have a bit and bridle to keep them going in the right direction. Boy do I know how that can feel when God has had to rein me in. I would rather have my eyes on His eyes to see where He is looking and leading!
Pastor Stephen Willoughby
Pastor Steve grew up in Columbia,South America, where his parents served as missionaries for 25 years. After graduating from Capital Bible Seminary, he was invited to serve as Assistant Pastor at FBCP. He has served in that capacity for twenty years before taking on the position of Senior Pastor.