Posture, Plans, And Possibilities
I’ve been in this season recently where I’ve encountered a potential disconnect between my will and God’s will. I’m hoping and praying for something seemingly impossible. Something that could very well be in God’s plan, but maybe not. I don’t know yet. In this tension God is teaching me some things about my relationship to his will. And one of the ways he’s taught is through Summit’s Gospel Reading Plan.
I wasn’t super excited about the Gospel Reading Plan when it was first introduced. In my prideful state I thought “I know the Gospels already, what more will I learn there?” Ha! How ridiculous is it that I think I could know all there is to know about the life of Christ? As I began reading along, the Lord convicted me of that pride right off the bat by absolutely flattening me with the parallel stories of Zacharias and Mary in Luke chapter one.
Reading these two stories side-by-side I saw that both Zacharias and Mary were visited by an angel of the Lord and given the same seemingly impossible message: You will have a son. Zacharias and his wife Elizabeth had been asking for this for so long, with no answer. Mary, a virgin, had most certainly not been asking for this.
The two take completely different postures toward this message. Zacharias, the one who has been asking for a son, responded in a posture of unbelief, asking “how will I know for certain?” While Mary, for whom a son was definitely not a part of her plan, responded in a posture of belief. She assumed this impossible thing would come to pass, and simply asked “how? What shall I do?”
And so I had to ask, in the face of something seemingly impossible, which posture do I take?
We’ll come back to that question, but first, I want to talk about the phrase “nothing is impossible with God” (Luke 1:37). We so often misapply this truth. We’ll say this to help us hold on to the hope that something will happen—God can do the impossible! Yes, he can, and yes, that can be an amazing comfort, hope, and encouragement. But sometimes what we want, even when it is a good thing, doesn’t line up with his perfect plan.
I think Zacharias’ story is one of the few times we see the impossible events God brought to pass were actually asked for. Faithful as Mary was, I highly doubt that it was the future she always imagined—it wasn’t something she asked for. There’s a lot in the lives of Biblical characters like Joseph, Esther, Hosea, or Ruth that neither appears “good” to my eyes nor is it something I’d ever ask for.
God can coordinate events and circumstances so that lowly Israelites like Joseph and Esther become royalty overnight. So why do I doubt that he can coordinate my life and circumstances to achieve his purpose? And maybe more importantly, why do I assume his plan has got to line up with what appears to be good in my eyes, or to be what I want?
God’s will came to pass in the lives of Zacharias and Mary because nothing is impossible with God. Neither Zacharias’ or Mary’s desire for this impossible thing affected the outcome.
Yet here I am, sitting in this inner turmoil of: Is what I want God’s plan? If it is, will it happen? What will happen if it’s not? How could that be good? You get it. Maybe that even resonates with you. But that’s so not the point. The point is that God’s perfect plan will come to pass. Whether or not I want it, whether or not I respond correctly, whether or not it appears to be good in my eyes, his way is perfect (Ps. 18:30) and it will come to pass (Is. 46:10).
So why am I in this back-and-forth conversation of worry? Why am I so afraid that this thing I want won’t happen? Honestly, and this hurts a little to admit, it is because I’m responding to the tension in a posture of unbelief. I am not fully believing God is sovereign over all circumstances (Col. 1:17). I am not fully believing he is working toward good (Rom. 8:28). I am believing that I will miss out on something good, maybe something I think I deserve if God’s plan doesn’t line up with mine.
But the truth is that when we’re walking in God’s perfect plan we’re not missing out. We’re not being cheated out of something good, because every good thing comes from God (James 1:17). He is leading us not into what we want, but into something greater! Belief is a choice, and if we choose to believe then we, like Mary, will be called blessed—“blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord” (Luke 1:45).
Will you choose to believe with me today, tomorrow, and each day again? Will you give up worry and rest in the Lord?
We are spending this year reading through all of the Gospels as we seek to know and understand Jesus deeper. It's never too late to jump in and read along with us! If you would like to share your experience reading the Gospel Reading Plan, email our Content Coordinator, Katie Schmidt at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Katie Holland has been attending Summit since January 2017. She attends the Waterford Campus and serves with the second and third graders in Base Camp. She moved to Orlando in fall of 2015 to work with MK2MK (Missionary Kid to Missionary Kid), which is a team within Cru that seeks to encourage, equip, and advocate for missionary families worldwide. You can catch more of her writing here and here. In addition to writing, Katie enjoys deep conversations, donuts, theology, organizing, and coffee!