When God Throws an Air Ball

Some times God throws the perfect layup—a perfect opportunity. We see what we assume is His will from a mile away. We’re grateful and we’re ready to go. Then suddenly, it falls short.

And we wonder, What is God doing? What went wrong?

A friend of mine’s husband has been without a job for almost three months now. The long anticipated return call finally came. The job he had most wanted came through. Could he start next week?

The following Monday, he arrived early, checked in with his new boss and prepared to go to work. Looking sheepish, the boss pulled him aside. Something came up, he said. Something in the paperwork, something that my friend’s husband thought had long been resolved, they were sorry, but he couldn’t work there.

The news crushed them. Everything had seemed so perfect! What had gone wrong?

It isn’t always a job. Perhaps you met the “perfect” person, but then the whole relationship fell apart. Maybe you’re expecting a baby and you’re so excited, but there’s a miscarriage. Maybe you’ve planned the perfect wedding and then find yourself standing in front of the justice of the peace.

Whatever it is, sometimes God throws the perfect layup, and then it falls short. 

God doesn’t always offer personal explanations, but Scripture is always the light to our path. In this case, a story from David’s life gives insight into the confusion.

David was a young shepherd, probably about 12-years-old when Samuel, the prophet, came to his father, Jesse. Samuel announced that one of Jesse’s sons would be the new king of Israel. Obediently, seven of Jesse’s sons marched in front of the prophet, but each time God said, “He is not the one.”

Perplexed, Samuel asked if Jesse had any more sons. Jesse admitted there was one more, a scrawny shepherd named David.

When David arrived, God told Samuel, “This is him! This is the one I want you to anoint as the King of Israel!” Quickly, Samuel did as he was told.

Logically, we might imagine that Samuel pulled a crown out of his bag, put it on David’s head and marched him to the castle. David should have begun ruling right away! But that didn’t happen. In 1 Samuel 16:13, Samuel turned around and went home. In the very next chapter, we find David back in the fields with the sheep.

I wonder if David asked God, “Why? Why do I, the King of Israel, have to go back to the sheep pen? And how long do I have to wait, God?”

Many years down the line, David did rule over Israel; he was the best king Israel ever had. God called David, “A man after my own heart.”

The Bible never tells us exactly why God made David wait for so long. We do know that in those waiting years, David was filled with the Holy Spirit. He wrote many of the Psalms during that time, singing and sharing his praise for God. He made many good, godly friends in that time too.

We will not always agree with or even understand God’s reason for toppling perfect plans, altering the natural course of things or seeming to change His mind. At times, it may seem like He has misled us. David must have felt that way after being anointed king and then sent back to the fields. Later he was called to the palace merely to serve King Saul by playing the harp.

Even after David took the throne, there was never any explanation as to why God anointed him and then sent him back to being a shepherd. If David had been king right away, perhaps Israel would have avoided many wars and a lot of blood shed. David never would have been hunted by Saul. But the end of the story is that David became a man after God’s own heart and God abundantly blessed him.

Even when things don’t make sense, the end of the story is always that God is working things for our good. He is always faithful and all that He does in our lives is out of His lovingkindness. As we learn to wait through the confusion, we will become men and women after His own heart.

Who or What, Why It Matters

Have you ever tried to tell someone about your faith and been blocked by the question, “But how can God be good when bad things happen?” Or, “Can you explain why things like miscarriages, natural disasters, world hunger and other terrible things happen?”

Maybe you’ve asked those questions yourself, and you wonder if what you believe can really be true. If it is, how do you explain some things?

The apostle Paul had every reason to ask the same questions. He wrote the book of 2 Timothy to a dear friend while sitting on the floor of a jail cell. He’d been arrested for preaching about Christ. Paul should have been asking, “Why?”, and “Is what I believe so important?”, but he wrote instead, “I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able…”.

Did you catch it? Paul wasn’t trying to figure out what he believed, and he wasn’t telling Timothy about any thing that he believed. He had been obedient to God; it was difficult to explain why God was letting him suffer. But Paul knew Who he believed. That’s the answer we must always come to when we cannot explain the things that happen in this world. We must know Who we believe and we can know that He is trustworthy.

Real Miracles

Earlier this year, my husband and I were blessed with an opportunity to do something kind for someone anonymously. It wasn’t one of those things we do on a regular basis, like try to be friendly, give someone a lift, babysit for a neighbor or loan someone a tool. No, it was one of those things that never occurs to me in the scope of my daily life. So, when the impetus came out of the blue, I knew God was urging us to do something new.

Afterward, I started wondering how this person must have felt about their, “miracle” when the gift mysteriously appeared. I’m confident that they knelt in worship and gratitude to the God from whom all blessing flow.

I chuckled, if they only knew, it wasn’t a real miracle, it was just a couple of Jesus followers who listened to His voice and (though this isn’t always the case) obeyed. Almost instantly, God put His hand on my heart.

“What do you mean, ‘Not a real miracle?'”

“Well God, it’s just that it was only us. They must feel like it’s manna from heaven, or multiplied loaves, but really, it was just another human!”

“Dear One,” I heard Him clearly say. “Just because I choose to use one common means or another does not make my goodness any less of a miracle.
Remember Elijah’s crows in 1 Kings 17? He could have claimed it wasn’t a real miracle, just a bunch of crows dropping food to him out of the sky.
Humans often relegate goodness to the ethereal; alternately, they try to explain it by means of coincidence.
Apart from me there is no good thing. (Ps. 16:2)
Therefore, Beloved, all good acted upon, all good things given, the very fact that you are capable of kindness is part of the supernatural miracle that I AM.”

After that personal didactic, it was interesting and affirming to read C.S. Lewis’ description of this thought process in the final pages of his book, The Screwtape Letters.

You will notice that we have got them completely fogged about the meaning of the world, ‘real’. They tell each other, of some great spiritual experience, ‘All that really happened was that you heard some music in a lighted building’; here ‘Real’ means the bare physical facts, separated from the other elements in the experience they actually had.

The general rule which we have now pretty well established among them is that in all experiences which can make them happier or better only the physical facts are ‘Real’ while the spiritual elements are ‘subjective’; in all experiences which can discourage or corrupt them the spiritual elements are the main reality and to ignore them is to be an escapist.

Do As I Say, AND As I Do

I’m not very good at resting. In fact, if I were training myself, I would be on my own nerves. How many times I have advised someone, “Take a day off. It’s OK. It’s not helpful to over-stress your body.” I usually feel my conscience tapping me on shoulder saying, “Are you listening to yourself?”

I got a good, pointed reminder of this as I studied the materials for my NESTA personal trainer certification. God made our bodies capable of hard work, and it is good. We imitate our Father in heaven when we work, like He did when He created us. But, as modern, 21st century humans, we conveniently forget that God rested too. God then instituted the Sabbath, commanding us to rest as well.

In the physical realm, it’s the resting that “does a body good.” In the hours after physical exertion, our muscles repair, strengthen and grow; our bones strengthen, too. In the spiritual realm, after we work – serving God and others – rest, quiet mediation on His word is when we regain our strength, grow in the knowledge and admonition of the Lord. It is when we are still that we can know God better, which in turn makes us better able to obey Him in our work for Him. (Ps. 46:10)

God didn’t need to rest. I am certain that He wasn’t fatigued after the strenuous work of commanding the world to exist. But He did rest. I believe God rested in order to show us what was best for us. Proverbially, we preach to our children, “Do as I say, not as I do.” Thank the Lord that He chose to set an example for His hard-headed creation.