The Universality of God’s Plan

I’ve been going through the book of Exodus, particularly the part of Israelites as they suffered under the Egyptians. Among the verses was a set that really struck me:

Exodus 2:23-25
23 During those many days the king of Egypt died, and the people of Israel groaned because of their slavery and cried out for help. Their cry for rescue from slavery came up to God. 24 And God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob. 25 God saw the people of Israel—and God knew.

God heard. God remembered. God saw. God knew. He saw what was happening to the Israelites yet, as we know from the story, He didn’t simply remove their pain and erase their suffering. In fact, more trials would come.

Why would a good and loving God, who is all powerful, not simply ease the load and pain of the people He claims to love?

I don’t really know but I have an idea. Though that idea is more a seed than a tenet. I believe it’s because of the universality of God’s plan to draw ALL people to Him. I used to read Exodus and simply think it was about God rescuing the good Israelites from the bad Egyptians. I see now that it’s God rescuing ALL of them from that which was enslaving them. God was freeing the Israelites from the human masters, the Egyptians, and He does, yet over and over, as we follow the journey of the Israelites into a nation, what He is really working on over and over, is freeing them from something deeper. If freeing the Israelites from pain and leading them to a better place was God’s main goal, why then did He allow them to wander in the wilderness for forty years? Because more than a better circumstance, He was working on their hearts, teaching them, showing them, to look to Him NOT the situation. In a similar way, the Egyptians were also enslaved, not by human overlords, they were the current great empire, but slaves to their idols, to their superstitions, to belief systems they believed would bring them greatness, wealth, and security, that God wanted to free them from. In both the cases of the Israelites and the Egyptians, God was tearing down their idols.

And those who trusted in their idols, like the Pharaoh, his army, that generation of Israelites who were seeking a place more than a person, would miss out on the true promise of God: Himself. If we think that God’s ultimate plan is to bring us to a lifestyle sweet spot where everything is spiritually, financially, physically, emotionally, and socially comfortable, than we’ll miss deeper truths in the scripture. We’ll accuse God of not being “good” because people are suffering. Many times we think it’s other people who are in the way of our success and happiness. I’ve learned that my biggest roadblock is myself.

It’s not the unkind man who is in the way of my becoming kinder. It’s the unkind David that bristles at being treated less than I feel entitled to.

It’s not the greedy man who in the way of my financial happiness. It’s the greedy, discontented, David that isn’t satisfied.

It’s not the inefficiencies around me that makes me frustrated. It’s the impatience already in me that gets triggered when things go wrong.

It’s not my accusers that make me defensive. It’s the pride and fear inside me that armors my heart.

If I am to grow in God, I need to deepen my roots into more than superficial knowledge of “good” and “evil” but the truth that all circumstances, all situations, and all events, are God’s ways of bringing all people to Him. I can’t keep casting myself in the Israelite role and casting the people I don’t like in the Egyptian role. That’s not where the divide is. As Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn put it,

“Gradually it was disclosed to me that the line separating good and evil passes not through states, nor between classes, nor between political parties either — but right through every human heart — and through all human hearts. This line shifts. Inside us, it oscillates with the years. And even within hearts overwhelmed by evil, one small bridgehead of good is retained. And even in the best of all hearts, there remains … an unuprooted small corner of evil.

Since then I have come to understand the truth of all the religions of the world: They struggle with the evil inside a human being (inside every human being). It is impossible to expel evil from the world in its entirety, but it is possible to constrict it within each person.”

So why would a good and loving God, who is all powerful, not simply ease the load and pain of the people He claims to love?

Like I said, I only have this seed of a thought, and it’s this: We’re all part of God’s universal plan to draw all men to Him, and all of us will journey through different experiences, all involving some (or even a lot) of pain, because God is working on the specific evil in each of our hearts. For some it’s pride. For some it’s fear. For some it’s inflicting injustice. For some it’s accepting injustice. For some it’s grumbling. For some it’s apathy. For some it’s self-righteousness. For some it’s unbelief. For some it’s unkindness. For some it’s man pleasing. For some it’s greed. For some it’s laziness. For most, if not all, it’s a combination of many evils. I know all of the above describe me.

Yet, in His faithfulness, He journeys with me in a very different way from the journeys of others, to love my specific heart and deal with my specific evils. And I can take assurance in the truth, not the opinion, that no matter what happens, in highs and lows, I just need to keep running back to God and trust that He’s drawing me to Him. And when I look at others, even the people I don’t like (there are quite a few), I need to fight my own pride and fear and see them as people also being drawn to God.

That’s really hard. That’s really really hard.


#db Thoughts:

  • We see the world from a limited perspective, particularly the perspective of our own narrative.
  • The world is infinitely larger than our own narratives yet we interpret the world from that limited perspective. This is what it we mean by the term narrow-mindedness, the shrinking of the world to fit our own limited perspective.
  • The Christian perspective is more than a “dogmatic” stance but sees things with an understanding of God’s universal plan to draw all men to Him. The Christian perspective asks, “How are You drawing us to You?”
  • The wise man paradoxically has both conviction and openness, seeking truth more than defense.
  • The wise man understands that God is working on all of us all the time at the same time.
  • The wise man takes assurance that no matter how bad things are, God hears, God sees, God knows, and He remembered His covenant.

The Kind of Partner You Don’t Want

Better to live on a corner of the roof than share a house with a quarrelsome wife.
– Proverbs 21:9

To put things simply: You don’t want an ENTITLED partner.

An entitled partner will never really be grateful for the things you do for her, yet she’ll be quick to spot what you don’t do. Maybe she’ll tell you, maybe she won’t, but she’ll spot it in her heart. Now someone who is never really grateful and is quick to spot your failures will never appreciate you. To be appreciated and respected is something everyone wants.

An entitled partner will never be able to meet your different needs because the attention will always make its way back to her. Everyone has needs, and the beauty of relationships is that the people in it support each other and serve each other. Entitled people always put their needs, their wants, their situation first. Guess where your needs, wants, and situation end up?

An entitled partner will not grow. Why should he? It’s never his fault. There’s nothing to grow out of.

An entitled partner stores up ammo for the future, and it will come up on the most opportune times. He or she will turn your mistakes into bricks and use it to build a wall. We end up with what we build. If we build walls then don’t be surprised if we find ourselves separated.

When I hear stories of wives pitching in to help their husbands during periods of crisis and digging deep to do what’s necessary without entitlements, I am always moved. I remember, many years ago, reading the story of a husband get removed from his job, and how, instead of worrying or berating him, his wife pulled out savings she had put together on her own and told him, “I’ve been saving this for this time. It’s time for you to write that novel you’ve always wanted.” Maybe it’s because I’m a writer, but I think it’s really more seeing someone go beyond her role to love. I remember looking at my relationship at the time and thinking, “She would never do that for me.” And I knew it was time to move on.

One of the serious drawbacks of a more empowered people comes when these people don’t understand the concept of social contracts. When people are empowered to think they’re awesome but not taught how to be awesome for others, we end up with entitled people.

We end up with people who abuse freedom, who think they’re entitled to do whatever they want, when they want how they want, why they want, with whom they want.

We end up with a million opinions and too little action.

We end up with churches who think they can bully truth into others instead of reaching out and serving like Christ did.

We end up with rich people who won’t give and poor people who won’t work.

We end up with boys who think they can sleep with anyone.

We end up with girls who think they’re empowered by being bitchy.

We end up with bosses who won’t develop and subordinates who won’t grow.

We end up with parents who don’t lead and kids who don’t follow.

We end up with expectations that no one will ever fulfill.

Yet, when I see a different story, like the lady who saved for her husband’s dream, like the story of old couples who continually serve, like how I see my grandmother be a true companion to my grandfather, stories of people who have surrendered what they could have and maybe even should have, for the sake of someone else, I’m moved.

Men have been obviously entitled for decades but its seen in women too.

One common line I hear many girls say is this, “Where are the good men? Why are there no more great men for me?”

My answer to them is always the same, “They’re staying away from you.”

I don’t say that to be mean but from a very logical thought process. Here it is:

If I was a great guy, I probably became a great guy by developing myself through discipline, hard work, study and learning, surrounding myself with the right people, and applying myself to the difficult challenges of not merely making money but making a difference. Now if I were that kind of guy, I would  not be attracted to someone who has the entitlement to say, “Why are there no good men for me?”

Entitlement ruins many things. Entitlement is simply thinking we deserve something and is most obvious by how we respond when we don’t get it. Many times, when we respond in anger, hurt, or complaining when we don’t get something, we are exhibiting entitlement.

Entitlement always comes up with me. It’s something I always have to fight. It starts with unmet expectations that grow into resentment and bitterness, and it chokes the beauty of things because when we get something we’re not as grateful as we should be because we’re “entitled” to it or we deserve it, and if we don’t get it, we think like we’ve been treated unfairly, because, again, we’re “entitled” to it.

I find that the only way I can defeat entitlement in my own life is to think less about me and more about others. It’s a very simple decision to put other first and to think of the benefit of others first. There’s really no other way. To stop thinking so much about what others bring to me but to be passionate about giving my best to them. It will become incredibly obvious who the people are who offer amazing things and it will be just as obvious when others don’t offer much. 

If you’re not sure whether you’re offering something amazing then the simple answer is you’re not.

It’s not complicated to be amazing for others. The first step is to think of others more than yourself. I find that some of the most selfless people I know are not the most flattering or funnest to be with. They are sometimes wrapped in rough edges and tactless remarks but their actions speak volumes. Many times the most selfish people I know are those who seem friendliest and most sociable – but actually give little thought to how things affect others as long as they get to do what they want.

Again, I see this in myself, so must look out the window again and look out the window more.

Making Someone Better or Controlling Them?

I get questions like this quite often and wanted to share my answer. It may help you.

“I just finished reading your woman of values piece.  Thank you for sharing this wisdom.

I was just wondering though, is self sacrifice a part of this ‘ideal’ woman?  How far does that go? For example: If a wife loves her husband does she give her all to him… Meaning, if he wants a certain thing in the bedroom, even though she doesn’t like it, he gets it? Because she loves him?
If she tries to ‘make others better’ as you’ve said, does that mean telling someone not to drink or look after themselves… but not in a controlling matter.. what is the difference between telling someone not to drink and controlling someone?  How else do you ‘make someone better’?

Thank you for the time!

Keep up the inspiring thoughts!”

——————————————————-

Hi!

Thank you for reading my blog. So sorry for the late reply. I try to answer everyone and think through things but it takes some time.

When I wrote that piece, I wasn’t thinking of a “perfect girl”. There is no perfect girl and there is no perfect guy. I was describing the pursuits of the women I admire, that they identify what is truly valuable in life and spend time, energy, and resources to obtain them.

In short, it’s not about reaching a level higher than others, but daily pursuing the truly important things God has marked out for us.

Among the important things in our lives are our relationships. I would even say, after God, our family and friends are most important. If something, in this case someone, is important to you, you protect them and cultivate them. Sometimes this means protecting others even from themselves, from the wrong things they insist on doing.

If you see a stranger walking towards the edge of a cliff you would stop her. Shouldn’t we be more vigilant for the people we love?

Now the difference between controlling and cultivating is this:
Controlling someone is motivated by pride and fear. Cultivating is motivated by love and hope. Controlling someone means manipulating events and circumstances to minimize the effects of mistakes and to lower the risk of failure. Cultivating means to add, sometimes to prune, to shape, to cover, to expose, to do whatever it takes to make someone grow and flourish. 

Controlling has the effect of limiting a person through the minimizing of risk. Cultivating has the effect of expanding a person through love and care.

So for the husband and wife question, I would suggest they talk openly, expand their ability to communicate, and that should improve things not just in the bedroom but in the whole home.

For the case of the person drinking, I would encourage you to help her see the beautiful future she could have by taking steps to take care of herself.

To make someone better means to cultivate them, and we cross over to controlling when our good intentions get tainted by pride (we know better than them), fear (we’re afraid our efforts aren’t working), and impatience (we want to see change right away).

So before you do anything, ask yourself, “Am I expanding this person? Or am I limiting this person?”

Regards,

David

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