Have you looked at the story of Gideon lately? I did and concluded that what God asked of Gideon was really totally unrealistic, unbelievable, hard to understand (or accept).
How would I have felt had I been Gideon? I’m sure I’d have asked for signs and wonders too. I’d have questioned God’s leading — maybe even his wisdom. But we know how it turned out — beyond all logic!
God’s inscrutable leadings didn’t begin or end with Gideon, however. Throughout history, God’s people have accepted hard-to-explain commands. Sometimes it seems that God leads us in ways that are simply impossible — like asking Noah to prepare for an inconceivable destruction. Or Joshua, told to cross the Jordan and conquer Jericho in an unorthodox way. Or Mary and Martha, asked to open Lazarus’ grave. Or the man at the Pool of Bethesda, told to “rise and walk.”
At other times, God’s leading seems too dangerous. Think of both Moses and Elijah, sent out of “protective custody” to face hostile kings. Or Esther, told to go uninvited before Xerxes. Or Ananias, asked to make a pastoral visit to the murderous Saul.
At other times, God’s leading just seems unrealistic. Imagine Abraham, told to leave job, family, culture, and life behind, put his belongings on the backs of a few camels, and spend the rest of his life wandering in the desert. Or Hosea, told to forget his dreams of marrying “a nice Jewish girl” and instead face the heartbreak of life with a not-really-reformed prostitute.
Whether we like (or understand it) or not, life is full of things that are inexplicable. In my own life, during the space of just four days this July, my youngest daughter was married, and my mom died. It’s been hard for me to accept the terrible timing of these two events — intense joy and deep sorrow all mixed up together.
I’ve been encouraged by remembering how God dealt with the inexplicable in the past. Sometimes he intervened and turned things around (Esther, Gideon). Sometimes he didn’t (Hosea, Abraham). Through it all, however, he always enabled and blessed. And today, he promises to walk us through the impossible, the unfathomable, enabling and blessing us too.
The words of Jeremiah are true: God knows the plans he has for us, plans to prosper us. Or as Paul said, “All things work together for good to those who love God.” Praise the Lord! The impossible is possible for Him.
By Pat Gustin
Pat Gustin served as director of the Institute of World Mission for nine years, until her retirement in 2005. Today, she continues to do contract teaching for Walla Walla University, the Institute of World Mission and Global Mission.