Moving With the Quake
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If we did a word association game with the words "San Francisco," well, two things that might come up very quickly would be Golden Gate Bridge and earthquakes. Actually, both of those subjects came up a lot when we were in San Francisco for some youth outreaches and to tape some special editions of a youth broadcast. We didn't arrange for a quake while we were there, but we did do a program based on them. And we actually did originate parts of other programs from near the Golden Gate Bridge and even on it. According to some local friends of mine there, and they could just be Californians pulling the leg of an East Coast boy, but they said that the bridge might be one of the safer places to be during an earthquake. No, it's not the one that folded during the last big quake. They say one reason the Golden Gate could withstand a quake is this surprising fact - it's built in such a way, that it's flexible. In other words, when the earth under it starts moving, it doesn't just stand there rigid and break. It's built to flex when things are shaking. So, apparently a quake might shake it, but probably not break it.
The question is how do you react when things start shaking all around you? The answer may be the difference between cracking under the stress and holding together through it. There's a synergy between the plans we make and God's plans that calls for some of that Golden Gate flexibility.
Our word for today from the Word of God, Proverbs 16:9, "In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps." The Bible acknowledges that we will make plans; the question is whether those plans are rigid - if we're rigid about having it our way. That "but" after the part about our plans tells me that God has the right to pre-empt my plan, or delay my plan, or redirect my plan. After all, that's what "Lord" means. Often He leads us toward a certain outcome, only to surprise us with an interruption, or with the realization that He did want us on this road, but for a destination other than the one we expected. But God's idea is always a better idea. What looks like Plan B to me may well have been God's Plan A all along. "But the Lord determines his steps."
Notice how James teaches us to make our plans. James 4:15 - "You ought to say, 'If it is the Lord's will, we will live and do this or that.'" See, I'm a planner by nature. I work hard on those plans, I pray about those plans. I seek God's direction. But once the plan is set, whether it's for the next few hours or the next few years, I don't like change. But change is built into the system, folks, and those who meet changes with rigidity will eventually crack like an unmoving structure in an earthquake.
This recovering "rigidaholic" (is that a word?) is slowly but surely learning to enjoy the surprises of God, even when they don't appear to be, at least at first, pleasant surprises. And even if it's something Satan has thrown in, my Bible tells me that even that had to be cleared first with my Heavenly Father. If God said it was OK for me, why don't I just try to roll with the quake?
I should point out that the Golden Gate Bridge, while flexible, is not made out of Play-Doh. It has solid structure and so should your life and your days. This is no excuse for laziness or lack of planning. But it is an encouragement to folks who like control to loosen up a little bit and make room for God to do His very dynamic thing. It's the ones who are flexible that survive the shaking.