The God Who Interrupts My Plans

B.J. Funk

B.J. Funk

By B.J. Funk –

Being a planner has its disadvantages. When a plan doesn’t go as I hoped, I sometimes struggle. Just this morning, I awoke and thought, “Need to map out my day.” That’s when Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s quote came to mind. “We must be ready to allow ourselves to be interrupted by God.” That doesn’t fit too well into my “to do” list that begs to be completed by supper tonight. Proverbs 16:9 supports Bonhoeffer: “In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.” So, I’m really not in control?

I’m sure Paul was a planner. He felt responsible for bringing the gospel to the Gentiles. After only three missionary trips, he was imprisoned for two years, then released, imprisoned again and finally beheaded under Emperor Nero. That’s when I want to knock on God’s door and ask, “That’s not what was supposed to happen, was it God? He had learned how to plant churches! Why didn’t you let him establish more?”

In Philippians 4:12, Paul writes that he has learned the secret of being content in any and every situation. That’s got to be a stress buster right there!

During World War II, Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s plans were also interrupted when he was executed under the rule of Adolf Hitler. Bonhoeffer, a German theologian and pastor, was killed for his role in a plot to assassinate Hitler. As he walked to his death, he said to someone watching, “This is the end. For me, the beginning of life.” Three weeks later, Hitler committed suicide. The war was over. I’m sure God was expecting my, “Why, Lord?” Why did Bonhoeffer have to die so young? Couldn’t you have stalled his death for just three more weeks?”

I have just completed reading, Bonhoeffer Abridged: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy by Eric Metaxas. Like Paul, Bonhoeffer lived each day with a forward look, not to his plans, but to God’s. I went back over and over to several parts, wanting to sit under his teaching, listen to his passion for Christ, and to read again the inspiring words by the observing doctor of Bonhoeffer’s last moments. “In the almost 50 years that I worked as a doctor, I have hardly ever seen a man die so entirely submissive to the will of God.”

He was 39 and engaged to be married. The sweetness of his relationship with Maria was tender and respectable. Reading of the progression of their romance, carried out mostly through letters, was beautiful. Just three weeks, Lord? Could you not have given him his heart’s desire for marriage?

What doesn’t make sense to me makes complete sense in God’s plan for Bonhoeffer.

Just as Hitler committed suicide shortly after Bonhoeffer’s death, so Nero also committed suicide the same summer of Paul’s beheading. In the deaths of both Paul and Bonhoeffer, my immediate carnal reaction is “What a shame! God could have done so much more for his kingdom if he had given Paul and Bonhoeffer a little more time.”

Then, I think of the late Peter Marshall, whose life was cut short, but whose sermons were made into a book by the late Catherine Marshall, his wife. Mr. Jones, Meet the Master, was only the beginning of Catherine’s stellar career as an author. His death changed her from a pastor’s wife to an author. It’s easier to see what God had in mind with the Marshalls. But, then there’s Jesus, whose earthly life ended at the young age of 33 after only three years of active ministry. Lord, I don’t understand.

God, in his patience, doesn’t even try to answer me. Someone has said, “If you want to hear God laugh, tell him your plans.” I’ve done that. Haven’t you?

Bonhoeffer’s quote about interruptions silently greets me each morning from the screen saver on my office computer. I am reminded daily that God’s business is his business, not mine. I believe God wants to take us into a relationship with him that is so intimate, so dear, that our plans don’t really matter. So intimate that we wake every morning, gather our long list of people and activities to pray over, bow our heads and instead pray, “Whatever.” That would not be an exasperated “whatever!” but a submissive “whatever,” one that puts God’s will at the forefront and ours significantly behind that. It is saying, “Not my will but thine, and I am in full agreement with what your plans might be.”

I continue with my “why” questions, and he continues with his silence. Sometimes, it’s maddening. I give up.

Did I really just hear God say, “Touche’?”

Comments

  1. BJ, over the these past many years you have written many columns that has blessed your readers. I think you need some rest with Jesus, maybe some alone time. God had the life of Jesus planned before the foundation of the Earth. His life ended when he fulfilled the Abrahamic covenants and promises except for the final 7 yrs which is still future. In one of your columns you wrote about a child around Easter wanting to know how to open a flower bud. She had tried on several. She asked her Mother how does God open a flower bud and I can’t? Her mother did not have an immediate answer. Then the child said “I know – – – He opens them from the inside !” Wait on the Lord and He will give you an answer on the inside. You have written about this often in your columns using different words.

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