The Psalm writer wrote: Open my eyes, that I may behold Wonderful things from Your law. As we come before a Holy God and hear his word, may we have eyes open to the wonderful and fearful things from his law. May it move us to repent and seek forgiveness, fear disobedience, and live in light of the grace we have received. This is the word of God. It is eternally true and applicable for all of life.
Proverbs 16:1-10 The plans of the heart belong to man, But the answer of the tongue is from the Lord. All the ways of a man are clean in his own sight, But the Lord weighs the motives. Commit your works to the Lord And your plans will be established. The Lord has made everything for its own purpose, Even the wicked for the day of evil. Everyone who is proud in heart is an abomination to the Lord; Assuredly, he will not be unpunished. By lovingkindness and truth iniquity is atoned for, And by the fear of the Lord one keeps away from evil. When a man’s ways are pleasing to the Lord, He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him. Better is a little with righteousness Than great income with injustice. The mind of man plans his way, But the Lord directs his steps. A divine decision is in the lips of the king; His mouth should not err in judgment.
Because I am such a procrastinator, the decision yesterday to do “zoom church” sent me scrambling out in the rain at 6 o’clock last night in search of an HDMI cable to hook my tablet up to the living room TV. As you can perhaps tell, my scheme fell through. Now, my plan was to get to Lowes, move as quickly as possible to aisle 12 bay 6, (which is where their website said I would find the needed cable), proceed to the checkout, and go home. Lowes closed at 7, so I would be cutting it close, but no problem.
Lowes and behold, Lowes did not have the cable I needed. But, about 30 seconds into my search, which I suspected was going to end fruitless, I began devising a back up plan. Across Veterans Pkwy sat Walmart, Chinese junk Mecca. Viruses aren’t the only thing China exports. Don’t judge me.
So, I dove back out into the pouring rain, got in my van, and drove across the street. After spending several minutes driving around their parking lot I find a space and make my way into the Walmart. First thing I noticed was that the entryway was roped off and barricaded in a fashion that would make Donald Trump proud. As I wove my way through the ropes, I noticed cute little blue arrows on the ground telling me which way to walk.
People are everywhere. Masks on. Generally ignoring all of the social distancing guidelines.
So I step in, through the automatic turnstile, and look straight to the back and see plastered on the wall “Entertainment”. This was shaping up to be anything but entertaining. My plan was to move to the back of the store, get the cable I need, and exit as fast as possible. From the outside my demeanor probably looked as it usually does, a happy go lucky scowl and furrowed brow, but on the inside I was beginning to get ticked that my simple little plan was not going the way I wanted it to.
I follow the little blue arrows to the back and am confronted with the realization that there are 3 different sections in their entertainment department which have HDMI cables. Guess what? Walmart let me down. The cable I needed was nowhere to be found. Oh sure, they had plenty of micro hdmi to standard hdmi, USB-C to Hdmi, and a dozen other variants, but not the one I needed.
My plans were thwarted. By this time my right eye was probably twitching, so I left the entertainment center by exiting out of an aisle going the wrong way according to their precious little arrows, then crossed over a roped off register in violation of some rule and got stuck behind a slow moving masked woman as I attempted to exit the building.
That’s when I glanced to my right and saw sitting on the ground between a claw machine and a pile of vomit, a cute little 12 or 13 year old brace-faced girl shaking, looking very confused and embarrassed.
I almost kept walking because I had to get home and do family worship and nothing was going to thwart my plans the rest of this day so help me. I don’t have time for this, and what the heck can I do anyway. But then I saw everyone else glance over, and keep walking, and I remembered a verse of scripture that I had just read a few hours before:
The mind of man plans his way, But the Lord directs his steps.
So I stopped a few feet short of the exit, broke the “one way only protocol” because there is no law against love, and walked back to where she was. I asked if she was Ok and she quietly said she was. I asked if I could help her by getting some paper towels so she could clean up a bit, and she said that would be nice.
So I totally broke the rules, went back into the store down the one way path, found a clerk, broke social distancing guidelines asking for some paper towels, and made my way back to the young lady. When I rounded the corner with the towels she smiled ear to ear, and it was then that I realized that this whole failed trip for some HDMI cables had been worth it.
Brothers and sisters, our Church has seen plans we made a mere 3 months ago get turned on their head by Covid-19. We had ministry work, outreaches, and fellowship meals planned out for the whole year. Our calendar was full, yet now we find ourselves unable to even meet face to face. Will we respond as I did last night, frustrated by the fact that everything we planned on doing has been suspended, and perhaps cancelled altogether? Will we miss opportunities to minister in this new season of life because we are so blinded by the anger of having had our plans thwarted?
Sovereign King Church, our Father loves to give His children good gifts, and for those who love God and are called according to His purpose, this pandemic can rightly be viewed as a gift from God. Rather than looking at this time in the life of the Church through the lense of “O woe is me”, we ought repent of our grumbling and attempts to usurp the will of God, and look for how God is working now and embrace the plans that He has for us.
Maybe it isn’t the ‘rona which has thwarted your plans so much. Perhaps it is some circumstance with your job. Quite possibly you have plans within your family which are being undermined by your spouse or children, and rather than view this as an opportunity to show mercy, and be patient, you grow angry, bitter, and selfish. Maybe your life is not shaping up the way you envisioned it years ago, and now you find yourself frustrated, grumbling, and maybe even raging against the ever kind ordaining hand of God. Repent lest you likewise perish.
Let us pray.
Heavenly Father, as men, women, boys, and girls of dust created in Your image, we have an innate desire to plan and shape our future. The unknown is a fearful thing to us, so we attempt to control it through plots and schemes. Frequently we fail to see Your designs, Your plans at work. We forget that it is You that ordains all things which come to pass, not us. We pray Your will be done, but live our lives as if it is “Our will be done”.
Father, please help us to recognize this season of our lives as a blessing from You. Please forgive us for grumbling and complaining, and enable us through the power of Your Spirit to trust and obey. It’s in Jesus Name we pray, Amen.
Listen now to the comforting assurance of the grace of God, promised in the gospel to all that believe:
Psalm 103:8-14 The Lord is compassionate and gracious, Slow to anger and abounding in lovingkindness. He will not always strive with us, Nor will He keep His anger forever. He has not dealt with us according to our sins, Nor rewarded us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth. So great is His lovingkindness toward those who fear Him. As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us. Just as a father has compassion on his children, So the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him. For He Himself knows our frame; He is mindful that we are but dust.
To all those who thus repent and seek Jesus Christ for their salvation, your sins are forgiven in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. Lift up your hearts!
(From the 4/26/2020 liturgy of Sovereign King Church, written by Aaron Sabie.)