Are you looking only on the surface of things? – 2 Corin 10:7
We have all heard the saying, “all that glitters is not gold.” Yet people have a tendency to judge a thing based on outward appearances or a perceived positive outcome or feeling, when in fact, this could be the most detrimental course of all. Too often, we dwell upon that part of the road that happens to be the most tumultuous at the moment, not realizing there will be smooth pavement up ahead. We also believe that difficulty or unpleasant news or circumstances mean we have done something wrong, God is punishing us, or we are out of His will. We have learned to equate our perception of good with positivity and our perception of bad with negativity, but in many cases the complete opposite is true.
I remember when I was beginning my teacher education courses and was placed in a teacher mentorship program. In this program I was given a full one-year teaching position as I worked through the program. At the end of the year, the principal could decide, based upon my performance, whether she would hire me back. It was coming close to the end of the term and my evaluation.
Then the strangest things began to happen. Within the matter of one week, a teacher’s aide tattled on me that I was helping my daughter with her homework (she was in elementary school and waited in my class until her bus came); I supposedly didn’t lock the doors after leaving the classroom and the same daughter was sitting in the classroom waiting for me when the janitor came in; one morning the principal came in and I didn’t have my lesson plans prepared for the day, and one or more of the teacher’s there told the principal I was unfriendly and anti-social. It was literally like I was being set up and sabotaged.
I sat through that evaluation feeling like I was the most incompetent teacher in the world. In fact, the principal wrote that she didn’t think I was cut out for teaching and I should pursue a different profession all together! Can you imagine what that could have done to my self-esteem? Well, as you can probably guessed, I was canned. But here is the funny part, can I tell you that this was the best thing that could have happened? Within one week I was picked up by another school which happened to be year-around. Because of the school’s schedule I was able to complete my student teaching and save over $7000 in tuition. I ended up teaching there for 4 more years before I transferred to a better district and later ended my teaching career with 11 years under my belt. So in reality, I was being set-up and sabotaged because God had another plan for me that included leaving that job and being offered something better. But, at the time it was shameful, difficult, and somewhat life shattering.
Just because the road ahead seems smooth and drama free doesn’t mean it’s the best path for us, especially when we feel God urging us in a different direction. Too often, we choose based on sight, security, and comfort to avoid unnerving circumstances. God chooses our route based upon his will and what’s best for us ultimately. Although, these types of situations may make us feel fearful, frustrated, and frantic, we must learn to let go of fear, walk by faith, and trust God as our navigator. These are also the times it would be good to memorize and repeat the scripture, “Trust in the Lord with ALL your heart and lean not to your own understanding, in all your ways acknowledge Him and he will direct your path.”
Sometimes God needs to change our course or bring about a new thing in our life and the only way he can do it is abruptly change what is. Your boyfriend breaks up with you out of nowhere, your transmission blows out, you lose your job, your tenants move out, you become ill, you get in an accident, a tree falls on your house (happened to a good friend), the cute guy who gets your number never calls, the babysitter quits unexpectantly, you don’t get accepted into the college you want, or the deal falls through, these are all situations we would perceive as negative, but create great opportunities for God to do something greater in our lives. And on occasion it’s just a test God has led us to so that He can elevate us to a new level of faith or understanding. God opens and shuts doors in our life all the time to stir us in the right direction. (Isaiah 22:22) On the surface it looks disastrous and you panic, but you must never forget that God is working out all things for your highest good and he has a plan for your life.
Therefore, judge nothing before the appointed time, the scriptures say. Don’t focus on things only as they are now; this is only a temporary bump in the road. When situations come up and out of nowhere or are beyond our control, instead of fighting, resisting the change, and struggling to maintain the status quo, get into the flow of God and proclaim your victory in the end. Jesus said on the cross, it is “finished” and in the end we all win.
Just think about the Israelites in route to the promise land, they had to endure being chased by their arch enemy, possible starvation and dehydration, and each time God performed a mighty miracle on their behalf. Yet instead of keeping their eyes on God and the prize ahead, they focused only upon what they could see NOW! They resisted God every step of the way and missed out on the greatest blessing of their lives, entering the place God had personally prepared for them, a place of safety, abundance, and rest.
When Peter stepped out of the boat to walk on the water as Jesus beckoned him to come, it wasn’t until he took his eyes off of God and looked at the height and tenacity of the waves that fear entered his heart and he began to sink. Jesus asked Peter, “Why did you doubt?”
Therefore, whatever you are facing today, look beyond the now, stop trying to fix it with your own understanding, and trust that God is in control and that nothing can thwart his plans for you, except you getting in the way. I’ve been in predicaments that the more I tried the fix it the worse it got. Could that be God’s way of saying, hands off, I don’t need your help? Today, look beyond the surface of things and keep your gaze on God, who promises to keep you in perfect peace if you keep you eyes on him.