I’m two-thirds of the way through an intensive author course. The volume of information is overwhelming. Details, details, details. All important, but impossible to implement all at once.
That’s the tricky part—assimilating and sorting information so I can pick the right details to meet my needs without going down a rabbit trail that could waste my energy and distract me from the bigger picture.
You’ve heard God is in the details. Thankfully, He doesn’t overwhelm us with them! Yet we almost always ask Him for more details. Especially when our backs are against the wall.
By then, our minds have churned through every scenario we can think of. We’ve tried all we know to do. And it’s crickets.
Psalm 107 describes this graphically. Verses 26-27 ring with desperation as seamen try everything in their power to survive a raging storm. Verse 27 translations are split equally in saying “all their skill was useless” or “they were at their wits’ end.” (The Hebrew words literally mean “their wisdom was swallowed up.”)
Here’s the hang-up. When our efforts fail, we stay stuck in give-me-a-plan mode. Even when talking to God. We want details as an assurance that His plan will succeed.
But God doesn’t deliver on details. So we get frustrated. We doubt Him, even rail against Him.
Just like the Israelites when God herded them through high cliffs to the Red Sea. Amid everyone’s screams and thoughts of certain death, God simply said, “Stand still and watch the Lord rescue you today” (Exodus 14:13, NLT).
God has a detailed plan for us, and He invites us to be a part of it. But our ongoing role is simpler than we’d like to make it. Our biggest responsibility is to oust our pride—because pride prods us to ineffective action. When we truly step back to let God do His thing, miracles happen.
God often tells us to get a good seat and pay attention to what He’ll do. No explanation of “here’s what I’ll do,” but “go here, take your place, and watch.”
- When the Moabites and Ammonites were bearing down on Jerusalem, King Jehoshaphat led his country in beseeching God for help. God replied, “Tomorrow you are to march down against them … You need not fight this battle. Take up your positions, stand firm, and see the salvation of the Lord on your behalf … Do not be afraid or discouraged … Face them tomorrow, for the Lord is with you.” (2 Chronicles 20:16-17, BSB)
- When the Amorites were intent on wiping out Gibeon, Joshua mobilized his troops to help. God told Joshua to march against the Amorites then added, “Do not be afraid of them, for I have delivered them into your hand. Not one of them shall stand against you” (Joshua 10:8, BSB). Spoiler alert: God did three miraculous things that day—so awesome that you need to read it for yourself in Joshua 10:1-14.
God didn’t give the Israelites any details of how He would do what He promised. He simply said he’d do it. Details wouldn’t increase the Israelites’ faith or trust in God. But coming to the end of themselves would.
Details don’t equal an assurance of success.
Rocket launches fail. Marketing plans fail. Even our daily calendar fails when the unexpected happens. We like to manipulate details. But only God controls them.
Proverbs 20:24 (GNT) says, “The Lord has determined our path; how then can anyone understand the direction his own life is taking?”
God wants us to recognize we’re not self-sufficient so He can show us His way is better than anything we could engineer or imagine.
We don’t need to know God’s “how.” It reaches further and affects more than we could ever grasp. In His infinite creativity, God’s “how” changes every time. We’re on a need-to-know basis—and we don’t need to know much to know God is in control.
We are in control of far less than we’d like to think. That’s OK. Let’s rest in the fact that God is in the details. Even when He doesn’t let us in on them.
TWEETABLESDetails don’t equal an assurance that a plan will succeed. Click To Tweet We like to manipulate details. But only God controls them. Click To Tweet We don’t need to know God’s “how.” We’re on a need-to-know basis—and we don’t need to know much to know God is in control. Click To Tweet
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A DEEPER DIVE
Use Bible Gateway or another searchable Bible to search on “stand still.” Do the same for “watch and pray.” You’ll be amazed how many times God gives those simple, yet profound instructions! What does that mean for you and how to approach challenges? Feel free to share in the comments.
Thanks (especially) for today’s post. I knew I needed to hear whatever you were going to say as soon as I read that you are in the thick of an intensive author course and overwhelmed by the details. So am I! And simultaneously trying to revise and improve the current work-in-progress according to what I’m learning. It’s a bit crazy isn’t it? And “Marketing plans fail.” Sadly, those goes wrong, too, as I’m very much learning. So glad that God is in control. Thanks for the reminder. Have a great week!
Hey, Tony–Thanks for your comments! Sorry I didn’t respond right away, as this final week of class has been a killer. Just turned in my last homework assignment. I hope you’re doing well in your author course and would love to hear about it. All the best to you!