Divine Expirations

Listen to this podcast with Annie F. Downs and Tauren Wells at “That Sounds Fun.” FAVORITE for my Friday morning commute.

Maybe you need to hear this as much as I did.
Maybe the “That Sounds Fun” podcast this week where Annie and Tauren Wells talked about life left you scrambling for a pen and a receipt in your floorboard to jot down a quote or two as you made your morning commute. Maybe it was just me, but that conversation resonated with me throughout the day to the point where I had to sit down and write it out.

I mean come on, divine expirations.. can we just talk about this for a minute?

The thought that following God is so not about your own plan from the pieces he has allowed you to know, and so much more about walking step by step in a posture of listening and obeying, listening and obeying, moment by moment.

“With good intentions we are very committed to doing what God has called us to do without really realizing that in a moment God could speak to us and change what our obedience really looks like because the directive changes… You’re willing to go, are you willing to stop? We’re willing to run but are we willing to wait and pause and hear what God has to say to us?” -Tauren Wells

This is the thing. If you’re anything like me, I think the human reaction to God revealing part of His plan, especially to a planner personality (like me) is to take it and run with it. To say “ok, God, I see what you’re doing here, and build a castle in the sand around that one tiny piece of information. But, here’s the thing that’s so hard for me to remember: “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts,” (Isaiah 55:8-9).

And we look at the story in Genesis 22 that Tauren referenced, the story of Abraham going to sacrifice Isaac, and we see this concept of a divine expiration.

Abraham and Isaac are trekking up the mountain, all the materials for a sacrifice, Abraham fully intent on sacrificing his son because that’s the obedience God instructed. Isaac confused that they would walk all this way without the sacrifice, but trusting his father to listen for God.

And then God speaking, just as Abraham was about to sacrifice his son, his future.
God provided a ram, and Abraham called the place “The Lord will provide; the Lord will see.”

Abraham did not hear God wrong about sacrificing Isaac.
Abraham did not vacillate when faced with binding Isaac and raising the knife… he was not looking to heaven saying “ok God, anytime now…”
All he knew was this heartbreaking command to sacrifice his promised son. And he was wiling to do it, in obedience to his Father.
God stopped Abraham just where he wanted him. He saw the willingness to obey, the heart in the human man, and issued a new instruction.
If Abraham had not been listening to God, he would have literally killed his future.
This was a divine expiration.
The previous instruction had an ending that only God knew, and then he directed Abraham elsewhere.

This is mind blowing to me- a girl who gets so locked into the “plan” that she forgets to listen.
“You can obey, thinking God is pointing you to a certain destination, and he is taking you along the right road without you seeing there is a turn along the way…Obedience is the thing, not the destination.” Annie F. Downs

How often in my life has God given me an instruction, only for me to run headlong, wholeheartedly toward the destination, but forgetting to listen at the same time?
God’s plan, as he reveals pieces to us, is not for us to grab those pieces with an iron grip and make the whole story around the little we know, and then pursue it without re-evaluating or praying. Yet so so often that is what I want to do. I see a glimpse of the bigger story and my human mind connects the dots, and I become a slave to that plan, rather than a humble servant listening for the voice of God.

And maybe now that is why we struggle so much with purpose. Because our plans have been very effectively shattered with a necessary ending. And suddenly it appears that we made our lives about this one plan, this one task, that God has declared ended to make way for the fullness of His plan.
When God calls FULL STOP, and takes that dream to an abrupt ending with no indication as to what the future might hold? It’s scary and life-rocking and sometimes a relief but also a time that begs us to press in and listen more… which is often the last thing we want to do—we just want to take some sort of action steps.

“Faith is obedience in reverse. It’s doing what God has asked me to do before I see why he has asked me to do it. If we follow in faith, we can’t really make a misstep. “ -Tauren Wells

So maybe it’s just time for us to listen in faith.
To see, in the absence of what I thought of as the plan, is God telling me what is next? Or am I sitting in the silence of his not yet, that space of time that may be a day or years because His timeline is nothing like my own? Regardless, I have to let the ashes fall from those burned and broken pieces I’ve been holding so tightly.
Divine expiration.
You did that thing in full obedience to God, but then he said leave, or stop, and you did. He didn’t tell you to resume that thing in a month or a year, as you had built into your plan.
So we must listen and wait, and have faith.
Because we can be assured that he has a very big plan and we hold a small role, that has very little to do with what our human brains can manufacture. It’s a divine purpose, for which we must wait and listen, and try very hard when a bit is revealed to us to not build a castle in the sand around what we think we know. Those sand castles always get knocked down by the waves, after all.

Try to hold onto that faith, dear heart.
So I will call this place, “The Lord will provide; the Lord will see”
(Genesis 22:14)

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