I don’t think the way you think. The way you work isn’t the way I work…The way I work surpasses the way you work, and the way I think is beyond the way you think. Isaiah 55:9-10 (The Message)
I’ve seen this before. It’s all the same. A + B = C. You memorize the formula and put it into practice the next time you’re faced with the same problem… right?
So, who determines if the problems are the same? Who decides which options are better. Should you always apply learned formulas from previous circumstances?
There’s something about me and roads—God has a funny way of talking to me while I’m on them. I’ve had the same job for three years now so, I’ve gotten used to taking the same route everyday. It’s a straight shot and at 5am, it’s about a ten minute drive. The speed limit is generally 45mph. Yesterday, me and my daredevil self were going about 3mph over the limit. (That’s 48mph for the mathematically challenged.)
Without notice, one of the streets dropped off due to construction and I had to quickly merge into the remaining lane. I was immediately flustered and frustrated. My instant reaction was, “People are so irresponsible! This is so dangerous—it’s ridiculous. Don’t they know that we’re not used to this!” I slowed down and then I saw it. Eureka. Even this gloomy morning’s fog couldn’t hide those multiple giant signs in bright neon orange; “CONSTRUCTION- SLOW TO 30MPH.”
Oops. God gently whispered to me, “just because it’s familiar, doesn’t mean it’s the same as before.” This road was all too common for me. I just simply did what I had always done before. I hadn’t slowed down enough to realize it was different. I was entirely unaware and completely oblivious. I missed all the signs.
It’s mere human nature for us to identify and categorize situations or circumstances based on what we’ve seen before. We can think back on what we did or didn’t do and act accordingly. After all, that’s how we learn not to put our hand on the stove or boil eggs in a microwave. Many times, we achieve our education due to trial and error.
Just because I’ve been down a road already, doesn’t mean it’s just the same as before. When we’re in the middle of a situation, what previously worked doesn’t always work again. Life isn’t all one big reoccurring day. Circumstances change. Situations shift. Variables vary.
Too often I find myself sorting through files stored in the cabinets of my mind. Pulling each case out and finding the one most like my present circumstance. Pray the same prayer; Find the same faith; Take the same action. Get the same results—right?
But God doesn’t always administer healing, bring deliverance, show confirmation or build relationships the same way each time. He has no formula. Predictable isn’t quite the best adjective to describe this supernatural Being. He specializes in doing the unpredictable and entirely unconventional. He just simply does what’s best for each circumstance.
For Noah, rescue would mean building an ark. For Moses, deliverance was raising a staff to split the sea. For Joshua, victory was won by circling a city. For Isaac, love was prearranged by a trusted servant. For Jonah, purpose was found in the belly of a whale. For Mary, destiny was birthed within.
Don’t allow yourself to be led by tradition, methods, or formulas. We shouldn’t be led by life experiences alone. God wants us to cling to Him for directions while being entirely dependent on His word. We shouldn’t try to skip over our relationship with Him to start doing something. He may not tell you everything you want to know right off the bat- but He will tell you just enough to keep you in His perfect will. Trust that He knows when you should know what He knows… kapeesh?
So, throw out your mental manuals and shred your mind maps. Yes, learn from your mistakes, but don’t try to make your walk with the Lord one big formula. God doesn’t destine us according to what we feel is best or what we think makes sense. He doesn’t play by our rules or fit into our convenient little brain boxes. Trust Him. He’ll show you exactly what you need to know.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you.” Jeremiah 29:11-13