One of the things I have learned through this time of transition is that people desperately need to understand and make sense of decisions and direction you are taking. If it does not seem rational to them their response is quite often something akin to, “you are crazy.” They view the moves you are making as foolish and unwise.
Herein lies the problem, when did we ever come to believe we could make sense of the leading and directing of God? Noah, build me an ark. Moses, go tell Pharoh it is time for my people to leave Egypt. Lazarus, come forth! Joshua, you have too many men to go into battle. David, go do battle with Goliath. Zacheus, come down for today I want to eat in your house. You can hear them can’t you…people who were near each of these events and did not understand what was going on. Whoa, that is one stupid move. I would not have done it that way. What in the world are you thinking my friend, that is risky and dangerous. Yet in each story people are responding in obedience to the leading of God.I believe our inability to understand, or even accept, what God is doing in somebody elses life revolves around the way we look at life. We tend to look at life, and the decisions of others through the lense of our own experience rather than trying to see what God is up to, what God is doing, what God may be working to accomplish in their lives.
This is what I mean. When Nancy and I began to share with people what we were going to do the responses were varied but the one consistent thing was that there must be something wrong, or there must be an issue we are trying to solve as we move to North Carolina. From pastors I got responses like, “You must be burned out”, “You must not think you are doing a very good job”, “You must be frustrated with the church you are serving.” None of which were/are true and those responses began to frustrate me, why can they not see that our decision is in response to where God is leading our family right now. I got a clearer picture when I met with someone who was working in the financial world. They were asking similar questions, trying to understand our decision. Then they asked a new one, “Do you own your house?” “No” At that you could visibily see the sense of relief on their face, it was like a curtain had been removed and they were seeing clearly what we were doing and it brought on great relief. “Oh, I get it. You do not own your house and do not have any equity built up so you are making this move to purchase a home, build equity and create a firmer financial base for your family.”
I was stunned. Our decision had nothing to do with building a stronger financial foundation for my family, as a matter of fact our move was going to put us on a much weaker financial foundation. I gave up trying to explain and we moved on to other topics.
Driving home it occured to me that the only way my friend was able to understand was through the eyes of his experience, his profession. It got me thinking, as I played back through my mind the many conversations where Nancy and I were trying to explain why we were moving, why taking time away from pastoral ministry the one consistent theme is that people processed the conversation through the eyes of their experience. Pastors looked for issues in the ministry, burnout, frustrations with the church, feelings of inadequacy. Financial people looked at it through their lense, mothers through the lense of motherhood, etc. Very few were able to step back and see the big picture of what God was about, what God was doing
That realization got me thinking, how do I see what God is doing in other people’s lives? Do I look only through the lense of my experience, or do I try to see how God is at work in the persons life? God’s agenda, plan is so much bigger than anything we can imagine that when we look at life through the eyes of our experience we can miss what God is up to, what God is doing. I am afraid we miss opportunities to celebrate the great things God is doing in people’s lives becasue we only see the situation through the lense of our experience or how their decision will effect me.
May we desire the vision to see beyond our experience and see the big picture of how God is moving in this world.