By Lisa Huddleston
“And you shall do to Ai and its king as you did to Jericho and its king. Only its spoil and its livestock you shall take as plunder for yourselves” (Joshua 8:2).
It was a good morning. I woke a little later than usual and had time to sip my coffee at a leisurely pace while I read my Bible and pondered the account of the Israelites as God led them into the Promised Land. It was a curious story, and I couldn’t help noting some things that seemed odd to me. For example, in one battle, the Lord’s instructions were to “keep yourselves from the things devoted to destruction”—only the silver, gold, bronze and iron vessels were to be kept for the treasury of the Lord (Josh. 6:18-19). They were instructed to destroy everything else. Achan promptly broke faith with God by keeping some of the devoted items for himself, and he and his entire family were stoned for his rebellious act. It saddened me to think of women and children suffering for Achan’s sin. Then in the very next words, the Lord said that the people could keep “spoil and livestock” in their upcoming defeat of Ai. What? Didn’t Achan’s whole family just die for doing that very thing? I have to admit, I felt a little annoyed by the seeming inconsistency. Why didn’t God just stick to the plans so they could know what was allowed and what was not? If he was going to change the rules, why did Achan have to die? I knit my brows, pursed my lips, and closed my Bible. Check.
The morning was passing and there was work to do, so I got dressed for the day and headed into my office to await a call from a coaching client. We were scheduled to work on a High Performance Pattern—a longer than typical discussion requiring some pretty intense listening—so my thoughts were quickly refocused on the here and now with the Israelites out of sight and out of mind. As the call progressed, I was caught up in my client’s stories. God’s hand was so clearly evident in this person’s life that I felt privileged to be a hearer and a listening witness to the freedom of God to lead where and how he chooses. As I hung up the phone, I thanked God for the opportunity and headed into the kitchen for lunch. Check. The day was moving right along, and I was making good progress.
Next on my agenda was writing my weekly column—the piece you are now reading. I had had some pretty good ideas throughout the week, and some really great topics were simmering in my brain as it had been longer than usual since I’d written. But as I sat down to begin, the morning kept running through my head. The freedom of God to lead as he chose, the way he knows us, the ways that he shapes us through his plans and the experiences he gives, the unique ways he relates to each one of us in order to draw us closer to himself … this topic rose to the top. And here it is.
God can choose to do whatever he wants to do! This may not be a big aha moment for most of you, but it is for me. As a pretty orderly and structured type, I like for things to be predictable. I don’t like surprises, and I don’t care for interruptions. My calendar is clearly labeled on most days, and I do my best to stick to it. It’s been a great day when I can sit down in the evening and look back with satisfaction at all that’s been accomplished. A good day is a productive day.
Maybe that’s why God does what he does. As long as everything is running smoothly and my predicted time table is being met, I don’t have to check in with him—except at my appointed time for Bible study each morning. Unexpected turns grab my attention. Confusing interruptions or sudden bouts of indecision send me running for help. And then he has me! Looking to him to guide me, searching for the way I should go, straining to hear his instructions for today. Apart from my daily plans and between the lines of my scheduled agenda, he keeps me ever listening. As was true with the nation of Israel and in the experiences of my client, God leads and it is our role to hear and to follow his instructions for this day. He always speaks clearly—it’s my hearing that is all muddled up. Oh Lord, help me to hear between the lines!