March 19, 2020
Psalm 106:6-13 (NIV)
We have sinned, even as our ancestors did;
we have done wrong and acted wickedly.
7 When our ancestors were in Egypt,
they gave no thought to your miracles;
they did not remember your many kindnesses,
and they rebelled by the sea, the Red Sea.
8 Yet he saved them for his name’s sake,
to make his mighty power known.
9 He rebuked the Red Sea, and it dried up;
he led them through the depths as through a desert.
10 He saved them from the hand of the foe;
from the hand of the enemy he redeemed them.
11 The waters covered their adversaries;
not one of them survived.
12 Then they believed his promises
and sang his praise.
13 But they soon forgot what he had done
and did not wait for his plan to unfold.
There’s an insight coming to me as we walk our way toward Egypt. It’s coming with the slow building intensity of a snowball rolling down a hill, getting larger with each turn. As usual, it’s an obvious insight; me being the master of the obvious insight and all. You ready for it? Here it is:
God has a plan.
It’s not a general plan with lots of gaps that people need to fill in with their best ideas and ingenuity. The plan certainly involves people, but it’s a particular plan. Think back with me just a bit. From the start, God sees the particularity of the suffering of the Israelites and he meets it with the particularity of a solution.
At 3:17, he speaks of not just getting them out of Egypt, but taking them to a “land flowing with milk and honey.”
At 3:18, God instructs Moses to go first to the Elders of Israel and share the plan with them. And after that they were to go to Pharaoh.
At 3:19, God lets Moses know on the front end that though the Elders of Israel will favor and follow him, Pharaoh will not. It will take a mighty hand and a series of great signs and wonders.
At 3:21, God lets Moses know that before it is all over, the Egyptian people will pour out great favor on the Israelites in their exodus. Look at the exquisite detail God gives Moses about his strategic plan in their very first encounter.
“Every woman is to ask her neighbor and any woman living in her house for articles of silver and gold and for clothing, which you will put on your sons and daughters. And so you will plunder the Egyptians.” 3:22.
Here’s what I marvel at. Moses didn’t come up with any of this. None of it was his idea. From soup to nuts, this was God’s plan. The purpose was worship. The vision was a land flowing with milk and honey. The mission was “Let my people go.” The strategy was signs and wonders. The ten plagues, the passover, the Red Sea, every last bit of this was God’s plan. All God needed was faithful, available, teachable, obedient, moderately competent people to follow directions.
In this day and age we have mastered the art of making plans and carrying them out. We might pray and ask God to help our planning or inspire our plans. We are expert at asking God to bless our plans. It all has me wondering what it would be like to spend more time on the front end simply asking God for his plan. What is God’s plan? It requires a lot more deference, submission, humility and waiting than comes natural to me. It makes me realize just how ready I am to assume that my plan is God’s plan. I prefer to couch my impatience and lack of faith in the clothing of taking initiative.
Back in our January series on First Word—Last Word—God’s Word I started a practice of listening to five Psalms on my phone (YouVersion app) as the first words and last words of my day (I use the sleep timer at night). Turns out I get through all 150 Psalms twice a month at this pace. It’s proving to be one of the most ordinary profound things I’ve ever done. This morning, as the words of Psalm 106 rang out in my ears, the last verse in today’s text captured my attention.
“But they soon forgot what he had done and did not wait for his plan to unfold.” Psalms 106:13
The Psalmist, as would be the case, was referring to the Israelites and the Exodus. This was after God executed his masterful plan and delivered them from Egypt and through the Red Sea.
In the midst of these days when our best laid plans are all out the window, I wonder if it might be the perfect opportunity to start our days asking God for his plan. And waiting for it. Maybe God doesn’t want us to wait this out so we can get back to church as usual or family as usual or life as usual. Maybe the pattern is being interrupted in a way that just might create the space wherein we might be awakened to God’s plan like we have never known it before.
People who say such things. . .
Father, I want to be a person who says such things. If I’m honest, those Israelites way back when—I am them. I need to be infused with a humility I know not. I’m reaching for a better way, far less self-dependent (or independent as the case may be) and far more dependent; far more submissive; far more willing to wait for your plan to unfold. No-one has proven themselves more faithful to fulfill their plan than you. Come Holy Spirit, and train me to be such a person of faith. I pray in Jesus name, Amen.
Do you tend to think God expects us to come up with the plan and then ask him to bless it? Or do you, like me, prefer to take initiative rather than to wait on God? What gives?
For the Awakening,