Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Next Steps

God said to Samuel, “How long will you grieve over Saul, seeing I have rejected him from being king over Israel?” At the conclusion of the day’s Old Testament lesson (1 Samuel 16:1-13), Samuel has anointed David, son of Jesse, to be the next king of Israel. And, as history tells us, David was the great king—the one under whom Israel prospered, the king who sought after the Lord’s heart. But getting to that place—letting go of Saul and accepting David—was a lot easier for God than for Samuel.

Usually, when God asks me to let go of something, it’s not as dramatic or painful as Samuel turning his back on Saul, his friend and king, in order to search out a stranger to take his place. Instead, God is usually calling me to accept that he knows where my life is headed even if I can’t see its destination. The steps God is asking me to take are often less painful and seem less consequential than those he asked Samuel to take, but they’re no less significant as steps of faith.

What is God calling us to let go of? The grief we feel at the loss of a dream is supposed to sting, but it isn’t supposed to represent despair. Even if my hopes are shut, God is asking me to trust that he will bring me in a new direction. What is God calling us to leave behind? The pain of a failure is supposed to humble, but it isn’t supposed to represent uselessness. If I try something and fail, the only true loss would be to assume that God has failed me in that moment. Instead, of course, there’s a new plan for me whether I can see it or not.
God is the one who sees how the story will play out. That’s how he has revealed himself to us. That’s how we have defined the one in whom we put our trust. If God were not in control, it would be impossible for us to let go and leave behind our disappointments. They would represent the end of our life’s story. But our God is the one who knows where the path leads. Our faith in him depends upon the fact that he knows and we don’t. When Samuel went into Jesse’s house, he didn’t know what Israel’s future would be. But he didn’t have to. God knew, and Samuel decided that that was enough.

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