"I know, O Lord, that a man's life is not his own; it is not for man to direct his steps. Correct me, Lord, but only with justice-- not in your anger, lest you reduce me to nothing." Jeremiah 10:23-24
It was late Friday afternoon; I was catching up on paper work when Judi called to tell me the highway department had pulled the snow plows off the road due to the high winds, drifting snow and extreme cold. Temperatures were forecasted to go down to 23 below zero; a cold, windy, dangerous night on the Western Minnesota prairie. Reluctantly, I decided to stay the night at our daughter’s place. I washed clothes and visited with her; it was a good evening but inside of me I just wanted to be home. I was internally grousing. I didn’t get my way.
I left early on Saturday morning heading home. The drive was very quiet. It was 23 degrees below and very little, if any, traffic. I listened to classical music and prayed as I drove.
I needed gas, a couple of parts for our cars and, if schedules permitted, I also needed a haircut. At 7:15 as I pulled in to a very quiet gas station, my lights landed on the sign for an auto parts store that I had never noticed before. I sat in my car, gathering the fortitude to get out and fill up the gas tank, when I noticed a pickup pull up next to the auto parts store. A man got out and walked to the store with hunched shoulders and steam rising out of his mouth, crystallizing on the cold air.
I went to the store, bought my parts and then he started to talk. No other customers showed up as he told me about his life. He questioned if his children would have as good a future as he had growing up. We discussed spiritual issues. I wanted to get home but God had another agenda.
I went to get my hair cut; I was the second person through the door. My barber was a military wife who grew up in California. Here she is living in 23 below temps of Minnesota, possibly pregnant after four miscarriages, contemplating all this while her husband receives his notice for his fourth overseas tour of duty in the war zones. She was afraid, cold, tired and lonely. We talked. I suggested we pray; she said “We better not do it here.” I told her I would go to the car and pray for her and I left with tears in my eyes. She managed a smile from a face covered with tears. I wanted to get home, but God had another agenda.
I am old enough to know better. Yes, it’s not about me and my agenda, it’s about what God wants me to do. No, I am not the center of my world; it’s not my agenda. Yes, I wanted to be home but God had something more beautiful, rewarding and humbling.
Yes, we grouse rather than get on our face and thank God for His sovereign hand. John Piper once said in part…
“Our life is on loan from God (Luke 12:20 - "But God said to him, 'You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?”) and our life belongs to Him. God created our life, gives it to us, and takes our life according to His own will and owes us nothing. It is a gift to learn this truth and dedicate our lives to their true owner rather than defraud Him until it is too late.”
Acts 17:24-25 says "The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands. And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else."
Our God is good; it’s His agenda, not ours. We would all do well to remember that.