There is something to be said about being prepared, but even the best preparations sometimes don’t bring the results we once hoped to realize. The benefits of preparation are that we have a plan for where we are going or what we are doing, the resources are laid aside or are immediately available, and we have a pretty good idea of what we’d like to see as the outcome. The downside to preparation is that our plans don’t always work out as we imagined, there are times the resources are just not sufficient for the things we are facing, and the outcome doesn’t always “match” what we imagined. God never discourages us from preparing or planning – he just reminds us that we need to rely upon him to guide us to the outcome which is best for us, even if it might not be the one we imagined!
Therefore he is able, once and forever, to save those who come to God through him. He lives forever to intercede with God on their behalf.
I got a call from my grandson last night, with a message relayed through his mother as they were in transit between baseball and small group. He had two questions for me because he knew I had a lot of “Jesus books” in my den. I never even knew he took notice of any of those books! His questions were simple: Where in the Bible does it tell us why God flooded the earth? He wanted to know where, but he also wanted to know why. These are two common questions we ask ourselves when we are considering things and/or preparing in life for our next steps, aren’t they? Where are we to go next, where do we look for the answers, where are the circumstances we find ourselves in at the moment going to lead us, or where does God expect us to be right now? Why is this happening, why do we need to go through this, or why is this the way it has to go down right now? We ask a whole lot of why and where questions, with a mix of how, when, and what ones mixed in.
Preparation is one thing – complete independence is another. God doesn’t discourage our enthusiastic preparation – just our stubborn belief that we “have this one” all on our own. So many times we stubbornly go our own way simply because we think we know where to find the answers. My fear is that I will get myself into some muddle of a mess simply because I don’t listen closely, pay attention well, or simply take steps without any preparation! Whenever I charge ahead without asking the right questions, I am not “blindly trusting” – I am being ignorant of the need to have a prepared heart, responsive spirit, and obedient mind! I am not “second-guessing” God, nor am I questioning his wisdom. I am really asking questions in my preparation because I don’t want to miss what he has prepared prior to my prep work!
Preparation involves several key things:
1) Trust placed in the right source, for any unreliable source will leave us wanting and disappointed in the outcome. Trust is more than a mental assent – it involves belief in the one we are placing our trust in, and the commitment to leave that trust securely placed there even when the answers seem to differ from what we were counting on occurring.
2) A listening ear, with an attentive spirit because we will find it very hard to maintain trust if we aren’t keeping that two-way communication and responsiveness open between us and God.
3) An obedient mind, with a submitted will is probably the toughest part of any prep work on our part, for it requires reining in the thoughts, getting control of the will, and then leaning into Jesus for the times when neither of these seems to be possible! Just sayin!