Has God ever asked something of you that seemed completely counterintuitive?
I think most of us who’ve followed God for more than a few years can look back and see the junctions where our road of well-laid plans forked completely as we obeyed God.
One of my own crazy calls came on a mundane day in the middle of a mindless chore as God whispered to my spirit.
If I didn’t mean for women to have children after 30, I wouldn’t have made them able to.
Let me assure you, having more children was not even the fringe of a thought when we were already juggling bills and bedrooms and bringing up the five we had. Nor was it a possibility. That chapter was closed and we were very happily in the season of kids.
This whisper was not borne of a seminar or book or sermon. We had no idea that people actually purposely let God determine their family size.
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But God. He is relentless with His own.
For weeks, I fought an inner battle. I wrote down all the reasons it didn’t make a lick of sense: no more seats in our van; our three bedroom-house already felt crammed; I was too old; the statistics were too frightening; I could not meet more need; my friends would think I was crazy; my family would think we were nuts.
But as I wrestled with God’s prompting over those weeks, I realized — we had never once prayed about our decision for a tubal ligation. Never even considered God had a say.
Finally, I surrendered — though it sounded crazy even to me to say I will trust You with our family size. This too is Yours.
And I still had to go to Dan. As I spilled out all that God had been speaking to me, admitting this call out of nowhere felt so unreasonable, Dan listened without a single question and then — somewhat to my surprise — affirmed it. We’d get a reversal. If God wanted to give us more children, we would, with our shaky, cautious faith, leave that with Him.
Counterintuitive calls seem to be a hallmark of God.
- Noah built an ark for a worldwide flood in obedience to God, though he had never seen a drop of rain. (Hebrews 11:7)
- Abraham uprooted his family and set out in obedience to God, though he had no idea where he was going. (Hebrews 11:8)
- Isaac and Jacob spent their entire lives in tents as foreigners in obedience to God, though God had already promised to give them the land. (Hebrews 11:9)
- Joshua began the first siege on the first town in Israel with marching and trumpets for seven days in obedience to God. (Hebrews 11:30)
- Rahab opened her door in obedience to God to the very enemies who were terrifying and threatening her town. (Hebrews 11:31)
These Hebrew 11 stories come to us finished. We can see that God came through.
In hindsight, it’s easy to agree with God. We can nod along with Him as we finally see some of what God saw all along.
But the whole of chapter 11 rings of the faith these men and women walked in the middle.
I wonder how often in that century of ark building Noah shook off thoughts of how God would flood so much dry land. I wonder if it was as hard for Joshua on the seventh day as the first to believe THIS was how God would give them victory. I wonder if Rahab stuffed down fear as she opened her door to the enemy.
In the middle, when we have started down a path that goes against our own small reasoning, our own common sense or the sense that the world dishes up, following where God leads can feel foolish. Vulnerable.
And even when I do summon the courage to obey, sharing it can feel that much more risky.
Because if we share the crazy that God is asking of us, will He come through?
Will we be left holding the tendrils of a call we thought sure we heard? Maybe it’s best to protect His reputation and ours until everything has worked out.
Then we can exhale and proclaim God’s great faithfulness. What a testimony! We’ll gush at His goodness and consider why we ever wondered in the first place.
We believers need to gush at His goodness when the call is clear but we are still gripping the handrails along the way.
Because a whole lot of us are walking by every ounce of faith we have in the middle.
We need to affirm that God loves to do the crazy counterintuitive. “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD.” Isaiah 55:8
We need to agree with every bit of middle that God takes us through, no matter how long, how unexpected it gets. “When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them on the road through the Philistine country, though that was shorter. For God said, “If they face war, they might change their minds and return to Egypt.” Exodus 13:17
We need to attest that God fulfills what He promises. “God is not human, that he should lie, not a human being, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill?” Numbers 23:19
I’ll share the rest in Part 3 of Faith in the Middle.
You can read Part 1 of Faith in the Middle here.
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