Eight years ago this month, I left Toronto behind and moved to Germany to study at Bodenseehof, a Torchbearers Bible school. I didn’t know it at the time, but that trip would change my life forever and begin the journey that led me to where I am today. As I left Toronto, I wondered what God had in store for me and I was curious to know what His big plan was. In the midst of my questions and searching, God let me in on a little secret: God is in control.
At Bodenseehof, all the students helped by doing chores. Sometimes I vacuumed or dusted or set up rooms for various functions, but I always wanted to work outside. During our year, we had a student, Don (not his real name), who worked on the landscaping of our school. I always wanted to do physical work and one day I got the chance to prove my manliness by working with him outside.
I thought I’d maybe get to drive a tractor or at least do some demolition, but instead I was asked to spend the whole day digging up grass! I wasn’t at all impressed and thought I should be doing something more productive. Why was I taking out grass if we were trying to landscape and make things look better? The grass looked pretty good to me. For a moment, I even wondered if Don knew what he was doing. In my usual attempt to understand the situation and take control, I asked him, “Why do you have me doing this when I could be doing something more productive?”
Don, without missing a beat, said, “Because I said so.”
We laughed and I continued my work, still not knowing why I was doing what I was doing. Then it hit me - this is a picture of how God works!
How often do we wonder what God is up to and what His plan is? How often do we question why we are where we are and why God has us doing what we are doing?
God is like Don, the landscape architect who has designed the plan and knows how to implement it. He sees the big picture and knows what needs to be done and when.
We, as followers of Jesus, are like workers in the yard. We are given our role, for whatever amount of time, perhaps without even knowing how it contributes to God’s bigger purpose. We may get glimpses of it, and the more we see, the more we realize how grand and all-encompassing the Master’s plan is. It stretches from creation to the new Jerusalem. It is felt in every culture and in every language. It is rooted in human history, and yet all of creation longs for its fulfillment. And all we get is a few decades to be a part of God’s redemptive plan.
Some of us may know exactly why we are here and what our calling is. Others may question and wonder, asking God where He is leading them and what it is they are supposed to do. As we follow the leading of the Holy Spirit, we may feel like what we are doing is good, but we may miss how it contributes to God’s master plan. It may feel like we are just digging up grass. In all of the uncertainty, as we question God, is it enough for us to rest in His “because I said so?” Is that enough to continue the work God has called us to?
As I came out the following day to see the progress of Don’s renovations, I found another student laying bricks for a path where I had dug up the grass. I quickly learned that Don knew what he was doing, that he was a good landscape architect, and he was sure to thank me for my help.
Are we able to trust that God is taking care of the bigger picture and that our part, however big or small, will be used by God in the building of His kingdom? Will we realign our ideas of worldly success and realize that God has given each of us unique gifts to be used for His glory? Are we willing to let go of our need for control and trust in the creator, sustainer, and redeemer of the universe? We will quickly learn that He is much better at being God than we are.