Let those who are wise understand these things. Let those with discernment listen carefully. The paths of the Lord are true and right, and righteous people live by walking in them. But in those paths sinners stumble and fall. [Hosea 14:9 (NLT)]
The weekly wisdom sent to me was “Not every good idea is a God idea!” and I had to agree. Moving to that beautiful grazing land near Sodom probably seemed like a good idea to Lot just as eating that apple did to Eve. David taking a census to know the strength of his troops, Sarah giving Hagar to her husband, and Saul making sacrifices without waiting for Samuel all seemed like good ideas at the time. Unfortunately, none of them were God’s idea and all ended badly.
On the other hand, what those words of wisdom didn’t mention is that not every God idea seems like a good one. Sometimes God’s ideas seem to pit us against insurmountable odds. After seeing the fortified cities and warriors in Canaan, God’s idea of living in the Promised Land no longer seemed a good idea to the Israelites. Unfortunately, not accepting God’s idea meant another forty years in the wilderness for them. Any general would want as large an army as possible, yet Gideon was told to reduce his army of 32,000. Going to battle with only 300 certainly didn’t seem like a good idea, but it was God’s. Fortunately, Gideon faithfully obeyed and victory was achieved.
Olympic champion Eric Liddell (of Chariots of Fire fame) followed God’s idea when he refused to run races on Sundays. I’m sure his teammates didn’t think that God idea a good one when Liddell wouldn’t run with them in the 4 X 400 relay. Rather than parlay his Olympic medals into fame and fortune (what some would call the good idea), Liddell became a missionary in China (a God idea). In 1941, when the British government warned all Brits to leave China because of Japanese threats (a good idea), Liddell remained there to serve the poor and sick (another God idea). Nowadays, most financial advisors would advise against closing a busy chain of restaurants or craft shops on Sundays (lowering sales figures by 14% or more), yet two prosperous American businessmen do just that. While a God idea, it’s not what most people would consider a good one!
It’s difficult to know the difference between God’s ideas and ours. We tend to think ideas we like are good (and God’s) while ideas we don’t like couldn’t possibly come from Him. Yet, we know from the Bible that God often presents us with plans that don’t make much sense to our mortal reasoning. Picture Noah explaining to God how that whole ark thing (what with collecting and feeding the animals, let alone poop disposal) wasn’t such a good idea. Moses probably didn’t like the idea of turning back toward Pi-hahiroth and Pharaoh’s army, Hosea might have preferred a more virtuous wife, and Joshua probably had reservations about exhausting his troops by marching them around Jericho for seven days. Instead, as bad as God’s idea might have seemed to them, they all faithfully went with it.
Father, give us discernment so that we recognize when our good ideas and your God ideas are not the same. Guide us to accept your God ideas even when they don’t seem so good. May we always do it your way, not ours!
Discernment is not a matter of telling the difference between right and wrong; rather it is telling the difference between right and almost right. [Charles Spurgeon]