God’s Efficiency

God's plans are bestDuring my college years, students often ran short of cash. Credit cards were not as ubiquitous, Apple Pay had not been invented yet (Apple either, for that matter), and students in general did not have as much discretionary funds as they seem to today.

One situation stood out to me. The details are fuzzy after a few decades, but it seemed like a student needed laundry money. She hadn’t asked for help, but someone became aware and passed the need along. The information traveled through a handful of people before someone was found who had a little extra cash to give to the cause.

But what I remember most from the experience was wondering why God didn’t somehow make the need known to the one person who could help instead of having so many involved. Humanly speaking, it seemed like that would be more efficient. All I could conclude at the time was that those who knew the situation were also in on the blessing.

That may have been the first time I realized that God’s idea of efficiency is not the same as ours. You’ve probably heard the phrase “God is never late, but He is seldom early.” I’ve known many people waiting on funds for camp or mission trips or other needs who could testify to that, with the remaining money coming in at seemingly the last minute.

Another area where God’s way of doing things puzzles me involves time and interruptions. I get frustrated when I try to plan my schedule efficiently in order accomplish what I think He wants me to do, and then an interruption, delay, or snafu occurs. Didn’t He know those things were going to happen? Couldn’t He have directed my planning so as to avoid them? Sure. Then why didn’t He? I don’t know all the reasons, but perhaps one is to teach me the longsuffering I pray for. You can’t learn longsuffering with suffering long. You can’t learn patience without being put in a situation where patience is required.

Perhaps some delays are for our safety. Maybe not getting on the road on time despite all our best efforts kept us from an accident. An interesting, often overlooked passage occurs in Exodus 13, where the Israelites have just left Egypt. Verse 17 says, “ When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them by way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near. For God said, ‘Lest the people change their minds when they see war and return to Egypt.'” So He took them the long way around—to the Red Sea. He knew the nearer way would have been too much for them. But that means He also knew that they should have been able to trust Him for what they would face when caught between Pharaoh’s army and the sea.

Probably another reason He allows interruptions is to remind us that people are more important than our tasks and plans.

Then there are other times we marvel at the series of seeming coincidences that can only point to God’s sovereign rule. When Rosalind Goforth narrowly escaped the Boxer rebellion in China, she hadn’t had time to pack clothes. Dear ladies nearby offered to sew for the family. They got everyone outfitted but the baby by the time the Goforths boarded their ship. Rosalind was exhausted and just could not sew another stitch. Then she got word that a package had been delivered for her: someone had sent her the clothes of her baby son who had passed away. None of these women knew the need, but God arranged their help and gifts at just the perfect time.

We rejoice in situations like that because we see how it ll worked out so marvelously. But we need to trust that God is also working things out when we can’t see it, or when it’s not happening like we thought it would.

Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand. Proverbs 19:21.

 We’ve heard Romans 8:28 so much that we’ve become numb to it. But we need to remind ourselves it is not a cliche: it’s a blessed truth:

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.

All things.

Even delays, disappointments, detours?

All things.

The gospels show Jesus being interrupted frequently. Yet He never lashed out at the interrupter. He was busy, but never frantic. He didn’t do everything that could have been done—there were still sick, blind, lame, needy people in Israel. But He could say, “I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do” (John 17:4).

You’ve heard the phrase “God moves in mysterious ways.” Did you know that line came from a hymn by William Cowper? It goes like this:

God moves in a mysterious way
His wonders to perform;
He plants his footsteps in the sea,
And rides upon the storm.

Deep in unfathomable mines
Of never-failing skill
He treasures up his bright designs,
And works his sov’reign will.

Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take;
The clouds ye so much dread
Are big with mercy, and shall break
In blessings on your head.

Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,
But trust him for his grace;
Behind a frowning providence
He hides a smiling face.

His purposes will ripen fast,
Unfolding ev’ry hour;
The bud may have a bitter taste,
But sweet will be the flow’r.

Blind unbelief is sure to err,
And scan his work in vain;
God is his own interpreter,
And he will make it plain.

God’s idea of efficiency may be different from ours, but His efficiency for what He wants to accomplish in our hearts and lives is perfectly and lovingly planned and carried out.

(Sharing with Inspire Me Monday, Senior Salon, Purposeful Faith,
InstaEncouragament, Recharge Wednesday, Let’s Have Coffee,
Heart Encouragement, Grace and Truth, Blogger Voices Network)

27 thoughts on “God’s Efficiency

  1. This is what the Lord has been convicting me today. The delay and even the No to my prayer recently is for my safety. His love is perfect. I may be hurting, but I believe and I trust that the Lord acts in His perfect love and wisdom. Praise the Lord!

  2. Barbara, I am always amazed at how you interpret things in such a positive way! One reason I love reading your posts. Interruptions show us that people are more important than plans, trying times teach us patience. What a beautiful attitude. I need to think like this more often!

  3. Hmmmm … that hymns sounds familiar, but I don’t know if I have sung it before or not. Its message is perfect for the topic! Like you, I have MANY times wondered why God acts in the ways He does. I think it will be fascinating in heaven to learn why He did many things He did. Then again, when we’re there, maybe we won’t care anymore? Fascinating topic and I enjoyed your thoughts.

  4. Barbara,
    If I could understand all of God’s ways and His timing, then there would be nothing separating me from my Maker. I may not have chosen the paths I’ve taken in my life, but I have never regretted the paths God has led me on. They have all served to build my character, my patience, and yes…even my longsuffering. Great post!
    Blessings,
    Bev xx

  5. I just heard a sermon on how God allows interruptions and detours in our lives to bring about His best purposes. I try to remember this whenever, like you, I grow frustrated with interruptions and delays. (Btw, interruptions are my biggest pet peeve! So I feel your pain!). Thanks for this encouragement!

    • Thank you! I try to remember interruptions are allowed by Him for His purposes–but I still have to work from a wrong reaction to a right one. Maybe one day the right reaction will be more automatic.

  6. I always need this message, Barbara. I have to remember to NOT idolize efficiency. God’s efficiency and mine are rarely the same. 😉 But as with everything else, his ways are always superior.

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  9. When you said, “The Lord works in mysterious ways” – I immediately thought of Alvin C. York’s mother saying that in the movie, “Sergeant York” – thank you for giving me the song to quote from, too! There’s a rhythm in God’s efficiency – and it’s different from mine, but the older I get, the more I am learning to change my rhythm to His – sometimes it involves trust that feels like free-falling, loosening my grip on control, and letting go of my meagre solutions and waiting for His! Your message is such good food for the soul!!!

    • Thank you, Maryleigh. I’ve read York’s biography but haven’t seen the movie. I like that phrase “letting go of my meager solutions.” Whatever I come up with, it’s surely meager compared to what He has in mind.

  10. I love that hymn, and I would go so far as to say that God’s idea of goodness is even different from mine. His ways are so often inscrutable to me. Of course, this is clear evidence that I have work to do.

    • Yes, me too. Sometimes I am discouraged about still having work to do in these and other areas, but I guess it will be that way til heaven. And in some ways it’s a good sign that we’re still overcoming and progressing.

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  12. This is a great post! God’s ways are so often not ours and I can think of a few situations just now where I would do it differently and it doesn’t seem to make sense. This is a great reminder to trust that he knows what he’s doing.

    • So often I think I know how a situation should work out when I pray, but I am trying to remember the plans He has in mind are so much better–even when I can’t see what they are or see any changes for a while.

  13. Goodness. I needed to hear and remember this after having spent the day fighting with my email service. He knows and works and it will be good. Even after the interruption of my plans for today. Thank you!

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