On Sunday afternoon, my wife sent me to Costco to “buy a mattress,” with my brother Will. That is exactly what we did. We bought a mattress. Hours later, back at the house, she said, “Where’s the box springs?” I, having not been told to purchase box springs, said, “What box springs?”
This discussion went round and round, finally settling on the decision that no adult in their early 30s could possibly believe that a bed could be complete without a box springs. Although I tried to tell my wife if she asked me to make her a “peanut butter” sandwich and then complained about the lack of jelly, she would have no leg to stand on, she did not buy it. We ended up being forced to return the mattress since they don’t sell box springs separately in some sort of “dumb husband” section of Costco and had to start the whole thing over again.
That’s why I told the company that moved us their motto should be:
“Signature Moving, stay married.”
Next to hanging up wallpaper in a guest bathroom that initially appears small but is actually inexplicably acres wide, moving tends to be a pretty easy way to get divorced. It’s stressful. It’s intense. And if you do it in August, it’s blazing hot.
Fortunately, the whole thing has been a complete God send and has been incredibly clear and there’s no doubt and God hand delivered a piece of paper that had the next ten years detailed so there’s no concern on that end. As far as being able to accurately list out the exact things we should be doing and the exact timeframe during which we should do it we’ve got that covered. When it comes to accurately discerning the minute details of God’s plan for our lives, all I do is win.
That’s clearly not true.
Despite prayers and hopes, plans and confirmations, life is never so simple that all the pieces line up, giving you a 100-year road map to the future. Sometimes, there is risk involved in moving. Sometimes, if you’re single, you have to stretch outside your comfort zone to start a new relationship. Sometimes, a job you didn’t expect takes you to extraordinarily unexpected places.
And in those moments we often turn to God. But what does he say? We often come to him with two buttons, “Run” and “Wait.” We want him to take his gigantic God fist and pound one cleanly. No hanging chad, we want to know instantly and without any doubt what he would have us do. But often, it doesn’t work that way for you and me, and I am encouraged by a moment when it didn’t for Moses.
The setting is the shore of the Red Sea. Moses has led the Israelites out of Egypt. They are excited, but just as freedom seems possible, they look up and see the Egyptian army marching down on them. In what I’ve mentioned before is the Bible’s first known example of sarcasm, they yell at Moses, “Was it because there were no graves in Egypt that you brought us to the desert to die?” What punks, but Moses isn’t phased.
With wisdom that sounds like it was said by a man with a legit beard, he replies in Exodus 14, “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today.” He continues later, “The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.”
Hooray you think! Moses got it right finally. His early track record isn’t wicked awesome. He murdered someone. He fled home. He told the Lord he wasn’t qualified to be a leader, but here, here in this moment he relies on God! He gets it. God clearly wants them to wait. Great plan.
How does God respond to that in the very next verse? God says, “Why are you crying out to me? Tell the Israelites to move on.”
I love that. Moses thought he had a plan. He thought he had a next step. He thought the wait button had been pressed and so he advised everyone to wait. And what did God say to that? “Run! Right now, run!”
That to me is a beautiful example of how crazy an adventure with God can feel. You want answers and they just don’t seem clear sometimes. You know in your heart of hearts that you’re supposed to move to Nashville and that God is in this adventure in big ways, but having your daughter change first grade a week before it starts isn’t easy. Your wife leaving the Community Bible Study she’s led for years isn’t easy. Changing a job you’ve had for years isn’t easy. And you wish, you wish there was a roadmap that could tell you it would all work out fine.
But as I’ve said before, we don’t get an itemized solution, we get a savior.
We don’t get a roadmap, we get a relationship.
We don’t get a mission statement, we get a Messiah.
And relationships are daily. Relationships are built on time and closeness. And every time we come just seeking actionable answers. Every time we come for the next ten steps. Every time we come for adventure insurance from God, I think he simply thinks, “come. Come be where I am. Stop making me press the wait or the run button, just come.” Because the truth is, in your life and my life too, on every journey we go on,
God’s presence matters more than a plan.