By Joe McKeever
“‘…your ways are not my ways,’ saith the Lord.” (Isaiah 55:8)
Keep an eye on how the Lord works in your life. You might learn something useful for the next time He wants to use you.
This little couplet seems to sum up 90 percent of what Scripture and life teach us concerning the operation of God in this world….
When God gets ready to do a thing,
He loves to start small
Using ordinary people
With whatever methods He chooses,
And take HIs own good time about it.
Only people of faith will still be standing there at the end
To see what He has done
And to behold His glory.
That’s how He does things. You can see it all through Scripture and by looking back over your lifetime.
But here is the problem. His ways are not our ways. His thoughts are different from ours. He is in fact light years above and beyond us and our techniques. (He said that very thing in Isaiah 55:8-9.)
For instance, using the formula (above) as our guide…..
God loves to start small; However we don’t like little things. (Matthew 13:31-32)
We keep asking God to do big things, and think we’re complimenting Him by such prayers. “Do a God-sized thing,” I prayed for years.
We complain if our numbers were not huge and the results not dramatic and impressive. A friend on Facebook announced that in the revival he’s about to lead, he’s expecting 100 salvation decisions. I hope he gets them. But, from what I know of the Lord–and admittedly, I’ve just touched the hem of His garment–that is not how He operates. Such a request, impressive on the surface, is likely to encourage the preacher to manipulate the congregation to “get those numbers up” to the level of his requests.
Biblically, we see that even when God is in the process of doing something massive and world-changing, He loves to start on a tiny scale, often in ways seen only by Him. When He began the process of saving humanity, He chose old Abraham and his elderly, barren wife. When He began moving to deliver Israel from Egyptian slavery, He began with 80-year-old Moses. And when the time had come to save the world, He sent a Baby.
Sometimes the greatest blessing in a revival meeting goes unseen for years. Someone decides to begin reading his Bible seriously. Someone else starts to pray with faith and intensity. Another decides to begin honoring God with his income and giving generously. Another person goes down the road and shares Christ with a neighbor. Years later–or in Heaven itself–the fruit from those small acts of faith may have produced a greater harvest than ten thousand more visible, more impressive, more dramatic “decisions.”
Let us appreciate everything God does, no matter the size.
God loves to use ordinary people; however we want Him to use only the gifted and talented. (I Corinthians 1:26)
If God uses only the celebrities and the gifted, this gives us an out. “Lord, I’m not talented” means “I’m not the one for this job.” We tell the Lord we’re not gifted or wealthy or educated or able to speak before large crowds.
Moses said, “I cannot speak” and Jeremiah said, “I’m but a youth.” God was not impressed by such flimsy excuses, just as our reasons why He must not call us will not stand up either.
Scripture teaches that God loves to use ordinary people, and those who think of themselves as unworthy, unqualified, and unlikely to be able end up being God’s favorite vessels.
Suddenly all our excuses dissolve like mist before the morning sun. God can use even me. How wonderful is that.
God loves to use any method He pleases; however, we want God to use our methods, the ones that seem best for us, have denominational approval, or which worked last time. (Psalm 115:3)
We don’t care for His way of employing unorthodox methods and unfamiliar ways.
Our church did something last year that brought in huge crowds and big offerings, so let’s do it again this year. We do it several years in a row and soon the denomination is taking note of our innovative and creative ministries. We get written about. We end up writing a book about what we did, and we are invited to speak in large forums. We become the authority on something or other.
At least, that seems to happen to some people in Kingdom work, even if it never has happened to you or me.
You know the problem with that. God seems to have a low threshold for boredom. He simply doesn’t like to do the same thing twice.
The infinite God of an immeasurably massive universe–we keep getting reminded how it’s so much grander than anyone ever imagined!–is not limited to our little tried-and-proven formulae. He loves to do new things. He even said so in Revelation 21:5.
Anyone wed to the past is going to have trouble with Jesus. Anyone demanding that God stick to the proven methods of yesterday will not last long in the Kingdom.
Our God is in the Heavens. He does whatever He pleases. That’s Psalm 115:3. Let us give thanks for this.
Because God dwells in eternity, He can take as long as He likes; we don’t like God’s timetable.
We want it done now. We want God to operate on our schedule. “Now, Lord, please. Today. Here. Us.”
But God has all the time there is. He’s in no hurry, to our everlasting frustration. Why, a day with Him is like a thousand years and vice versa. That would be 2 Peter 3:8, and it’s a rebuke to our impatience.
God loves to start small (see Matthew 13:31-32). “Who has despised the day of small things,” asked Zechariah (4:10). Answer: We do. We want it big and dramatic and with flashing lights. We want it the way He did it last time, using celebrities, and now.
The Lord’s ways are “as high (above ours) as the heavens are above the earth.”
God delights in starting small with ordinary people (see I Corinthians 1:26). When Jesus began to assembly a team, He walked right past the rabbinical schools and Council of Elders and called out some fishermen, a tax collector, and a collection of nobodies.
There is hope for you and me. If we’re willing to be a nobody.
God enjoys lots of variety in His techniques. The laws by which He operates the universe seem as infinite as He is.
Because God inhabits eternity, He is in no rush, but takes His own good time to do a thing.
And therefore, since our Heavenly Father has His own way of doing things, the consequences for us are enormous…
–We must be people of enduring faith. Our prayers will not all be answered by sundown.
–We must not put limitations on Him, demanding that He do things our way, or as the disciples did in the upper room, pray that He will “show us which one of these two men Thou hast chosen.” (Acts 1:24)
–We must select leaders of faith who operate in that realm. Choosing people only because they know finances or can dominate others with strong personalities is the surest way to cutting the Holy Spirit out of everything.
–We must expect to be eternally surprised by the latest thing God has done, the people He is using, the methods He seems to be blessing.
Only people of faith will still be standing by at the end.
Everyone else will have grown disgusted with His ways or impatience with His delay and wandered off in search of more satisfying pursuits.
“When the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on earth?” (Luke 18:8).
Only people of faith will be on hand to see His glory on full display.
“Did I not say to you that if you would believe, you would see the glory of God?” (John 11:40)
We believe, our Lord. Help our unbelief.
Joe McKeever is a retired pastor and a past director of the New Orleans Baptist Association. This editorial first appeared on his blog site.