This week we held our annual pastor’s breakfast in the beautiful Hope Cafe on the third floor of the administrative wing at Sharon Baptist Church. We had a lot of stuff to unload from our car and I made several trips up and down in the elevator getting ready for our meeting. On one trip down, I entered the elevator on my own, pushed the button for the door to close and waited for the elevator to move. To my surprise, nothing happened. After standing there awkwardly for what seemed like an eternity (but was probably no more than 30 seconds) I began to panic a little. Was the elevator stuck or worse, was it broken and would I now be in this tight space for hours to come? It is amazing how quickly I went from being calm to being nearly frantic. At that very moment, I suddenly remembered one key thing – I had not pushed the button for the first floor. I immediately did that and to my joy the elevator started moving and got me down the two floors in what seemed like record time. I was pretty happy when those doors opened and I realized I wasn’t stuck at all. As I walked through the elevator doors, I felt pretty stupid about the whole episode and thanked the Lord that he had not allowed me to be “stuck” in the elevator any longer than I had been.
As I pondered this episode, it crossed my mind that this is kind of how we live certain parts of our lives. God has clearly made His will known on a number of matters though his word, his people and his church and yet we often act like we are stuck in an elevator with no idea what to do. In many areas of our lives, I am now more convinced than ever that God simply wants us to push the button and trust him that He will take care of the rest. Yet we (that includes me) still persist in standing in the elevator about to panic as if God has forgotten us or our situation.
I am a person of faith and I do believe in miracles. As crazy as it may sound, I do actually believe that if God had wanted to, He could have had an angel push that elevator button for me and avoided the whole embarrassing situation. In his providence, that is not what God chose to do. It seems to me that quite often God does not step in like that even when we desperately want him to. More often than not, He wants me to take the first step and push the button in some key area of my life. This critical first step is more for my benefit that anything else and God uses it to remind me that while this life of faith is totally dependent on Him, it does involve my obedience and my action. I am not a bystander to His will, nor am I in control. This paradox – taking obedient action, but completely trusting Him for the outcome is one that I may never fully understand. Somehow though, the more I do this, the more my relationship with God is strengthened and the more I understand His deep love for me.
What must it have been like for the patriarch Abraham to push the button and take his son to the place he had been told he would have to kill him? He knew exactly what God expected of him and he did it. God credited this kind of faith as righteousness on his account. I cannot imagine what I would have done in the same circumstance except that I might not have been so good at following through on the clear and evident will of God. My life does not have this type of dramatic situation occurring too often, if ever, and yet there are plenty of things that I know are the definite will of God for my life. He wants me to push the button of patience with my children, other-centered love with my wife and servant leadership with my team members. Yet too often I stand around acting like He has not spoken at all or that in my dream world, the elevator will move itself. Maybe in some mysterious way, I will become the patient father, loving husband and servant leader without doing any real work. Somehow, I doubt that is going to happen nor do I believe that God will deprive me of the privilege of pushing the buttons on a daily basis. One thing I do know for sure. Once I push the button, He is faithful and trustworthy and will be sure to get the elevator of my life to the place that He intends it to go and will make sure that the doors open exactly as He planned.