Dear God, sometimes we all give and get bad advice. I’ve received bad advice before. I’ve certainly given my share as well. I’m saying this because I read a really good blog post by Fred Smith a couple of days ago called “Bad Advice.” In it, Smith uses the story to Moses’s last words of instruction to Joshua as an example of someone who let his own perceptions and experience paint an incorrect picture. His predictions for Joshua and what Joshua could expect from the Israelites didn’t end up panning out. His final instructions didn’t end up doing Joshua much good–at least not that we can tell.
There are several examples of people in the Bible making the wrong decision. Sometimes we are told it’s the wrong decision and sometimes we aren’t. Paul and Barnabas splitting up over John Mark. Was one of them right and one wrong? How Abraham handled Sarah and Hagar (and Ishmael). Peter and going to the gentiles. My favorite that I’ve mentioned to you before is what I perceive as the mistake of appointing Mathias as the apostle to replace Judas instead of waiting for you to groom Paul. Just people working with limited information and going in the wrong direction.
The good news is that, most of the time, these mistakes don’t get in the way of your plan. You used Abraham’s mistreatment of Hagar to free her from slavery. You accomplished greater spreading of your message by splitting up Paul and Barnabas, and maybe even helped to convict John Mark and encouraged him to grow up in the process. And Joshua still led the Israelites into the Promised Land, experiencing mostly victories and your blessing.
I came up with the phrase a long time ago that you keep me on a need-to-know basis and I very rarely need to know. There are certainly things happening in my life right now that I don’t like and I would change in a heartbeat if I could, but I don’t know what you are doing through this path that I cannot see. And perhaps I will never see it on this side of heaven. I put a local pastor in an awkward position this week by requesting some pastoral counseling about some of my current trials. I chose him carefully as someone whom I deeply trust and respect, and also someone who doesn’t come in with any preconceived biases towards the players in the story. To his credit, he did not try to pontificate and give me an great wisdom. He took notes. He pointed out one connection he wanted to make sure I made, and then we agreed to meet again. He said he would commit the situation to prayer. It was a good lesson for me on listening and waiting. People come to me for advice and I am often too quick to feel like I need to be smart and wise. I need to espouse my “wisdom” so that they will be grateful they sought me out. Instead, I need to be much more willing to just listen, hear them, and wait, if that is what you are calling me to do.
Father, I have friends who are having marital problems. I see suffering through my work on a daily basis. And I certainly have my own personal life situations that vex me and bring me tremendous sorrow. Please help me. Help me to be at peace. Help me to trust you. Help me to not get out ahead of you. Help me to not short-circuit your plan. Make your plans beyond my own corruption. I give you praise. I give you glory. I thank you for everything you’ve done and continue to do.
In Jesus’s name I pray,