of sweat and solitude: lesson three

Lesson Three: God Works God's Plan In God's Time


God used three men to remind me of a spectacular truth: God will work God's plan in God's time. My practical application, then, is: be patient. If I aim to keep in step with the Spirit and gain knowledge to act upon, then I am allowing God to lead and act, but if I am so locked-in on my 5-year or 10-year plan for my life that I don't follow the Ghost, then I am a fool. Listen to how this idea even worked its way into my mind:

Mark Driscoll didn't want anything to do with Jesus until God radically opened his eyes to the gospel when he was 19 years old. At age 25 he began a small Bible study in Seattle with his wife Grace. And in the last 14 years, Driscoll has become one of the most influential men in America, and his church, Mars Hill, is one of the largest and fastest-growing. The crazy thing: at my age, Driscoll didn't have any life ambition to be a pastor and serve Jesus with his life, but God worked God's plan in God's time.

John Piper believed firmly in the doctrines of Free Will throughout his college and seminary and teaching days. But in the fall of 1979, at age 33, while on sabbatical from teaching at Bethel College and just prior to beginning his tenure as senior pastor at Bethlehem Baptist Church, he set out to study and understand Romans 9, and God saw fit to radically reverse his misunderstood doctrine of the Sovereignty of God. John Piper was a self-declared Arminian, who, when he studied the scriptures and was led by the Spirit, has become perhaps the most prominent and proficient Calvinist today. God worked God's plan in God's time.

John Calvin was a 23 year old law school dropout when he wrote his first book: A Commentary on Seneca. He was more interested in the classics than law, which his father had forced him to study after "running afoul" the church. It was shortly after the publication of this book, in 1532, that Calvin began to encounter the teaching and witness of the Reformation. And in 1533, at the age of 24, Calvin miraculously experienced salvation. Immediately after his conversion, he committed himself to studying Hebrew and published his Institutes in 1536. Calvin played a major role in the Reformation and his doctrines of Sovereign Grace bear his name. People remember John Calvin today, because God worked God's plan in God's time.

I could draw the same conclusion about every person and event in history, but these were the three examples that were marinating in my mind. As I was hearing the stories of these men, I realized a few things that made me almost cringe at the road I was taking.

Let me preface, I think my plan for my life is grace: God has given me a passion, and blessed me with opportunity and gifts to pursue that passion. And therefore, I believe it is a God-honoring endeavor, and for that I am grateful and pumped. Yet at the same time, I am learning that the plan is simply a means to an end, and not the end in itself. Therefore the plan is flexible, so I must be ready to forgo it if the Spirit leads elsewhere.
This is my plan as I see it:
1. Attend Portland State for a Marketing B.S. (2 years)
2. Attend Western Seminary for Masters of Divinity. (3+ years)
3. Plant a church or pastor in an established church. (5-10 years)
4. And I'd really like to get married while in Seminary. I think that would be cool. (someday)
My father and some other godly men in my life have encouraged me to have vision and a plan for my life, and that is good! There's something, however, about the fact that God works God's plan in God's time that makes me feel uneasy about such a scheduled plan.

I have a tendency to trust my plan or my ability to stick to it and fulfill it. I have a tendency to lock-in on a plan so firmly, that I simply don't recognize alternate routes. I have a tendency to live in the future rather than for the future. And I want those tendencies to fade, because I know that any successes are grace! And I know that any failures are...grace! I'm not the master of my own destiny. I'm not the captain of my ship.

It's an interesting dichotomy, considering the last two lessons I had learned at this point.

How do I weigh, in this situation, the leading of the Spirit versus acting upon what I know? I ask, because I know that I'm supposed to be doing what I've planned to do, but I also know that God works God's plan in God's time, and He leads by His Spirit.

And this is a lesson I can't really say I've fully learned at this point in my life, because I am not yet done learning. But the practical conclusion I drew this summer is this: I will work to be patient with my plan, to be content with where I am in life, to trust God to use me as He deems best, and to be willing to put my plan on hold should the Spirit lead another direction.

My plan for my life is foolishness and all-for-naught if I neglect the Spirit, for God works God's plan in God's time.

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You don't believe me? Check out: Psalm 115:3 and 135:6; Proverbs 16:1, 16:9, and 19:21. That will get you started.

1 comments:

September 25, 2010 at 2:34 AM Nicole said...

Hey Taylor,
I was checking out some blogs today by people my age connected with the reb., local churches, etc. and came across your blog. If I'm going to be honest with you, I'm looking for a different kind of Christianity than I'm seeing and I feel like what I'm seeing is breaking my heart. People (like you) have a lot of great, insightful, Biblical things to say -- but mixed in with it all is a poison that I've already seen people I really care about perish by. And no one can tell me why this poison is being allowed to be added to the otherwise good spiritual food of truth out there! I've already been banned from some blogs for respectfully asking several times over the last three years about this, I've given up on local churches because the sermons are worse than trashy movies I had to walk out of as a teen and the young men swear when praying (using the f-word in the same sentence as the Blood of Jesus!), and I actually feel what I believe to be a righteous rage towards the religious system here in America and all forms of compromising with it. Please read the following articles about Driscoll. And please read the last (and now only) post on my blog linked to via my name here. No one will tell me why they still support Driscoll and others, the leading local churches are using toilet humor in the pulpit, no one cares for God's Bride. Only me, a despised young woman, stands among all the hundreds I know in our circles of mutually known pastors, friends, leaders, parents, theology students. This is crazy! We can't be of the same belief system! How can that even be possible to think, one has to wonder.

http://www.sfpulpit.com/2006/12/11/grunge-christianity/

http://defendingcontending.com/2009/03/11/has-anyone-ever-contacted-mark-driscoll-privately/

(Warning: Part 3 of the following series contains actual quotes)
http://defendingcontending.com/2009/04/17/john-macarthur-on-mark-driscoll-part-2/

(Warning: The following article contains actual quotes)
http://thechristianworldview.com/tcwblog/archives/1640

http://www.challies.com/book-reviews/confessions-of-a-reformission-rev

http://teampyro.blogspot.com/2006/10/fed-up.html

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