That’s Crazy!

A friend called me to talk about a sermon he had heard that tremendously upset him. In the course of the sermon, the preacher illustrated his remarks with a story about his decision to go to seminary. He was older than the normal age and had already built a thriving business. After sending in his application, he decided to take a step of faith. He sold his business, moved to a distant city, and invested all his life savings in buying a house. All this without knowing whether or not he would be accepted. At length, his faith was rewarded when he was accepted by the seminary. That’s the whole story. To me, it didn’t seem very unusual. People do that kind of thing all the time. What surprised me was my friend’s reaction to that illustration. To say he was furious would understate the matter. I have never known him to be so upset.“How could anyone do something as stupid as that,” he shouted over the telephone. “That’s not faith. That’s forcing God’s hand.” Then he added this comment, “Sure, it worked out for him. But what about all the others who tried it and it didn’t work?” Good question. On one hand, I think my friend was revealing more about himself and his need for earthly security than about the wisdom or folly of what the preacher did. I’ve heard similar stories many times — most of them with relatively happy endings. On the other hand, he does raise a good point. There are times when people take a major step of faith only to find that it backfires on them. What if the man hadn’t been accepted at seminary? Well, I suppose he would have put his skills to work finding a job in the new city, or perhaps, he would have decided to move back where he came from. No shame there. But wouldn’t that prove that he was wrong about God’s will? No, not necessarily. Following God’s will doesn’t guarantee worldly success. The operative word is “worldly.” God has one view of success, the world has another. Joshua 1:8 reminds us that those who meditate on God’s Word will be “prosperous and successful.” Psalm 1 contrasts the fool who looks to the wicked for advice with the godly who builds his life on the Word of God. The latter will be like “a tree planted by streams of waters.” God rewards such a man in this way: “In all that he does, he prospers” (v. 3). But let’s not confuse that with the false notion that doing God’s will leads to a trouble-free life. It’s not crazy to follow God’s leading even when it doesn’t work out the way we thought it would.

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