An Unexpected Tug
When the country is in chaos, everybody has a plan to fix it—but it takes a leader of real understanding to straighten things out. Proverbs 28:2
In business, in school, and now, around my house, the “least expected one” usually saves the day. I specifically am mindful of the lion’s share of the “above 12 years old” Dunford’s frantically looking for misplaced van keys. Inevitably, little bitty hands will tug on my pant leg, “Daddy, you looking for these?”
What’s sad is the fact that I, like most, find myself looking to the smart, the aged, and the polished for answers. But time testifies of men and women of real understanding whom few ever imagined they had outstanding ideas.
I don’t know what country you are in as you read this, but I know at least one that fits the bill of today’s proverbial thought. And though I never want to see anyone suffer catastrophe, history says then and only then do we quit looking for the keys where we think we left them. This is when we let a power beyond our brains and braun and bank account get us back on track with help we could never find or afford.
I’m not meddling and I’m not being political.
But our predicament humbles me and these words today inspire me to hope for a tug from an unexpected source.
Luke 1:18 NIV:Zechariah asked the angel, “How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years.”
In 1999, God began to educate me about the difference between insurance and assurance. For about six months he had been guiding me toward full-time ministry. At that time, I was employed as a youth coordinator in Enid, Oklahoma. As the Lord started redirecting me, however, I really struggled with the potential loss of insurance coverage for my family. My dilemma came from a feeling of irresponsibility. But every day I saw evidence that God was calling my family to weave a thread of unity and harmony throughout His people, His body, and His church.
This call kept growing and growing in me and yet the insurance issue would always cloud my vision. One morning I was working through Psalms 23. All of a sudden, I found myself singing one of the old hymns of the church, “Blessed Assurance.” I can’t quite describe how clear the Lord revealed the power of assurance to me that day. While I was singing, it just dawned on me that the Lord was purposely drawing me to a place where I had to depend on exactly what He said. Insurance and assurance are related to one another. But a distinguishing characteristic of assurance, according to Webster’s 1828 Dictionary, is “to give confidence by a promise or declaration.” In the old days, it was common for a kid to go down to the general store and pick up a few items, with the assurance that his daddy would take care of the bill.
Thank God for modern-day insurance and all the great benefits we receive from it. Along with your insurance, don’t be surprised if God draws you into a place where you will have to take Him at His Word, and His Word alone. It’s been many years since that day and we have seen some things! I can’t promise you it’s easy to do, but I can tell you the Bible will come alive and God’s Word will become more precious to you than anything in the world, as you lean and rely on His blessed assurance!
Suggested Biblical Meditation: Luke 1:18 and Genesis 23
When Zechariah saw him, he was startled and was gripped with fear. But the angel said to him: “Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to give him the name John. He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth, for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He is never to take wine or other fermented drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even from birth.
David sat by me at lunch at my new school. After talking awhile, he agreed to teach me how to play the piano, if I would teach him how to “break dance.” We were in junior high in the early eighties and I was new to the district so I didn’t know very many people. Soon after this arrangement was made, a kid challenged me to a “dance off” in the cafeteria. I held my own doing Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean” without a hitch and all of a sudden I was the man.
Right around the same time I went to chorus one day a little earlier than normal. I witnessed the most amazing display of piano talent I had ever seen. That little white kid I had been sitting by at lunch could play! Well, you know how it is. You want what you don’t have; so he wanted to dance and I wanted to play the piano. Since dancing came natural to me, I thought it would be easy to teach David. Not so! And since playing the piano was second nature to David, he thought I would pick it up with no problem. Wrong again! When I would explain how to make a certain move and then demonstrate it, David’s eyes would just glass over. He had no clue. And I was the same when it came to piano. We would both just lock up, afraid to act for fear of failure. Why? The plan to accomplish our goals was not yet clear to either one of us. Each of us felt like we were staring at a “freak of nature.”
There is no doubt in my mind that I could have learned the basics of piano and David could have mastered some dance moves had we stayed at it and overcome our fear. This is valuable insight into how to respond to God’s “outrageous” directions for your life. Zechariah was serving in the temple of the Lord. But he got scared when an angel of the Lord showed up with an answer to a prayer that stemmed from a desire of his heart that he had long forgotten he prayed.
Our Father is funny like that; He doesn’t forget our prayers, but He doesn’t follow our time. We don’t have to be taken aback or afraid of His plan. He promises to grant wisdom and insight to all who ask (James 1:5). So if you have something strange staring you in the face today you didn’t see coming, don’t panic. You’ve got the answer right there in front of you. And when you’ve got a Daddy, you’ve got no worries. In due time, rest assured, He will make His plan as clear as day.
Suggested Biblical Meditation: Luke 1 and James 1
Luke 1:8-11 The Message
It so happened that as Zechariah was carrying out his priestly duties before God, working the shift assigned to his regiment, it came his one turn in life to enter the sanctuary of God and burn incense. The congregation was gathered and praying outside the Temple at the hour of the incense offering. Unannounced, an angel of God appeared just to the right of the altar of incense. Zechariah was paralyzed in fear.
We have a standard joke around the Dunford house when it comes to Daddy’s keys. There have been times (many times) when I didn’t place my keys on the little designated hooks by the door and of course temporarily misplaced them. I then did the next thing and asked everybody in the house if they’ve seen my keys. The majority of the people in my house are all under 15 so they don’t have a clue where the missing keys might be. But since it is considered a common occurrence, their momma has trained them with the right response to my question. I say, “Has anyone seen my keys?” And they say, “They are probably with your wallet!” Isn’t that cruel? I do believe, contrary to the overall consensus of the clan, I am getting better!
Maybe you can relate to misplacing something and looking for it frantically. When do you normally find it? That’s right, when you quit looking for it! Out of the blue, it shows up. Take this angle on prayer and God’s plan for a moment. He knows our needs before we ever voice them, but most importantly, He knows His plan and where we fit in it. Often, when we lay our cares in His lap (I Peter 5:7), He gives us a little glimpse of what’s coming, but He knows if we see too much, we’ll get to messing with it. (And worrying about it!)
Hang on to His Word today as a source of confidence that He will make all things beautiful concerning you and yours. Think on Luke’s account of how He worked in the lives of Zechariah and Elisabeth. Nothing’s changed, especially God!
Suggested Biblical Meditation: Luke 1 and I Peter 5
Luke 1:5-7 NIV
In the time of Herod king of Judea there was a priest named Zechariah, who belonged to the priestly division of Abijah; his wife Elizabeth was also a descendant of Aaron. Both of them were upright in the sight of God, observing all the Lord’s commandments and regulations blamelessly. But they had no children, because Elizabeth was barren; and they were both well along in years.
Are you a person that likes to know the why? Why did this happen or why did that happen? Where did I mess up? How can I fix it? You are among friends. Most all of us are, by nature, interested in the “why.” Make no mistake about it; there are laws that govern most everything in this universe, so “cause and effect” is valid. But it seems to me that there are also events which seem to be orchestrated by a higher order of operation.
When it comes to the blessing God spoke over mankind in Genesis to be fruitful and multiply (Gen. 1:26-28), barrenness would have to be viewed as a curse. However the above passage describes Zechariah and Elizabeth as upright and blameless in the sight of the Lord, yet barren. So what’s up?
Check out this account of Jesus’ and His disciples out of the Gospel of John: Walking down the street, Jesus saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked, “Rabbi, who sinned: this man or his parents, causing him to be born blind?” Jesus said, “You’re asking the wrong question. You’re looking for someone to blame. There is no such cause-effect here. Look instead for what God can do (John 9:1-3).
Did you get that last part? Look instead for what God CAN do. Don’t get trapped by the blame game, and especially, don’t blame God! You know what, even if your situation or that of a loved one is a result of past mistakes, it doesn’t matter. God is a master at taking our knots and making bow ties! If you are spending time in His Word and fellowshipping with Him on a daily basis, He will let you know if He wants you to change something you are doing or if He’s going to change something you can’t. Find yourself in His presence, and listen for the direction He will always give.
Suggested Biblical Meditation: Luke 1, John 9