Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The Easy Way vs. The Best Way

There's an adage in the business world which goes something like this: "Do you want it fast? Do you want it cheap? Or do you want it good? Pick two." In other words, you cannot have all three. It's either going to be fast and cheap (but not good), fast and good (but not cheap), or cheap and good (but not fast). That does seem to describe most products in the marketplace, doesn't it? I'll admit that I like to do things the easy way, which is usually the fastest route, even if it's not always the best way.

Have you ever noticed that God rarely seems to do things the "easy way?" At least, it never seems like the easy way when it involves something I want, I'm waiting on, or interrupts my plans. My mind goes to a story we all know about a young woman who received a divine revelation which directly affected her life and her plans. Mary, the mother of Jesus, was a very young woman. In our day and age she would be considered a girl, probably still in school and looking forward proms. But Mary's future had been planned by her family that she would marry a carpenter, Joseph. All was going according to plan until she had an angelic visit announcing a "change of plan." God had something different in mind for Mary and Joseph.

Of course, the first thing Mary did was question this new plan: “But how can this happen? I am a virgin.” Luke 1:34   [Questioning. Check.]

Then Mary responded to the angel: “I am the Lord’s servant. May everything you have said about me come true.” Luke 1:38   [Acceptance and Anticipating. Okay, a very hesitant check.]

Finally, Mary shared the news with a loved one, she considered all that had happened, and responded like all of us would when our plans suddenly get changed by singing: “Oh, how my soul praises the Lord. How my spirit rejoices in God my Savior!" Luke 1:46-47  [Sharing and Singing. Half a check for talking about it.]

If you go on to follow the life of Mary, you'll note that several times she "ponders things in her heart." Those are the things which she observes but cannot explain outside of God's sovereignty. She holds them in her heart, probably (just guessing here) rolling them over in her mind multiple times hoping that one day it will all make sense. So why would God choose to interrupt her plans and expose Mary to ridicule for being unmarried and pregnant? Of course, looking back from our perspective we can see that it was all for God's glory that He chose that particular path for her.

Confession: These are not my typical responses to a sudden change of plans. Depending on the scenario, I can sometimes roll with the change and be flexible. But if it's something I was really, really counting on it could take me a good, long while to get through the questioning stage and then I might accept it begrudgingly. Note to self: There's definitely something to be learned from Mary.

God always chooses the best way for us. His best way may not always be the fastest or the funnest way. The best way often involves stretching our faith to the point in which we are forced to draw upon God's strength and usually teaches us something we might not have learned any other way. The best way will likely be different for each one of us. Two people could be going through similar circumstances. One person's "best way" may involve waiting for an answer to a prayer for years. The other person's "best way" may involve waiting for an answer to prayer for a few months. Doesn't seem fair, does it? Yeah...This is the point where trust becomes essential. Trusting in God's sovereignty and His loyal love. We can try to manipulate our circumstances but we may miss out on some blessings along the way.

Another confession: I've been through 22 months of "the best way." Now, if I had received a divine message from an angel about the circumstances that would unfold, I doubt that I could have handled the news as well as Mary. But, God knew exactly what He was doing. I've learned so much, have been blessed beyond measure, and grown closer to the Lord than ever. 

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