Adventures in Faith

God Is Not Always Efficient

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"Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’” John 7:38

As I was driving into Washington D.C. for the New Canaan Society & Wilberforce Conferences, I called Michael, who I was set to room with for the night. Michael had planned for a nap, he said, and my arrival was set to be right in the middle of it, so would I mind delaying a bit. "No problem," I responded; and I thought to catch up on work in the business center. Minutes after the call with just a few miles to the hotel, I found myself driving along beautiful Rock Creek. I felt like I should pray at that moment, so I pulled off the road, hopped down the bank, and found my way to a large rock in the middle of the creek. There, I threw up my hands to God and admitted to Him that my heart was not "in" these conferences...I saw them as a work obligation, not as a chance to praise and glorify Him. As I sat there feeling spent, I told God that I talk enough and would He  please put something on my heart...teach me! Minutes passed by...so did joggers...I soaked up the sun and the sound of the rushing water. Then, right before me, a great message was delivered in the form of two currents that ran counter to the creek. Literally, two sections of water ran back against the flow--literally uphill--to create a small pool right at my feet.

As I saw this I received with it the lesson that God's design is so high, so Holy, so Perfect, that it must be trusted fully. God is in control and, most important, it can be terribly inefficient in a worldly sense. In the end, the creek runs exactly where God wants it to run. Holding up efficiency as a grand measure, as I often do, was not an across-the-board virtue, at least in God's design, that much was clear. This came all at once in a remarkable way, so much so that I took out my phone and videotaped the scene.

This was to be a private lesson just for me but then on the last night of the conference Michael introduced me to a friend of his who spoke about his difficulty in always wanting to be efficient. I found myself blurting out that I think God gave me a lesson for him, and at the risk of looking foolish, I showed him my little creek-side video. It resonated with him for sure, but there watching next to him, Michael remarked that it had a strong application for him too. The next day, as we talked more, Michael added that perhaps this story should be shared with our team at work at an upcoming retreat.

I have taken the core message from this day to heart, that I must focus my vision on God's design and not worldly design, and certainly not on what appears most efficient. I have since balanced research and strategy development with seeking God's will in prayer, fasting, reading the Bible, and seeking council from other believers. As a result, I have become more patient, understanding, and gentle in handling times when I face inefficiency.