The Surprising Places that Jesus works
It is always interesting to see where Jesus shows up. Especially when He does so in the places which seem beyond His scope and influence at times. It should come as no surprise that He is exerting His influence at all times and that all spheres are in under His control, after all He is the Ruler and King of All. As Colossians 1 puts it, “15 The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. 17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.”
Yet, there are those surprising places which seem beyond His influence. At least when I am feeling utterly faithless they seem beyond His influence. At no time has this been more apparent to me than during this recent paperwork process for getting our NGO license so that we can get to work.
On the surface the whole process seems designed in such a way that it could drive the sanest of minds to the brink of insanity and the most patient of saints past the edge of making a public scene. By its sheer design the process frustrates, perplexes, and causes a huge amount of culture shock. There is endless paperwork, considerable waits, changes requested that seem illogical and what seems like ever changing processes and time lines. Just when you think you are on step 3 of 5, you learn that you are on step 3 of 10. All of this bureaucracy, waiting and twists and turns seems counterintuitive to God’s plan, right? It is just plain inefficient, and isn’t God all about efficiency?
These roadblocks can seem at times like the enemy’s plan to frustrate and slow down progress, yet I recently was surprised when I considered that no matter what is behind the frustration, Jesus is still in control, holding all things together and working. A message that you would think this trained former Presbyterian, Sovereignty of God advocate would have internalized by now. I guess sometimes it is easier to know theology than it is to live theology.
I became more convinced of this when we received a request for revisions and corrections to our project proposal. Our first proposal was 24 pages of project plans and information as well as an additional 20 pages of supporting documents. I thought we had covered it all. So, when I got our initial changes back from an office here, I was a bit appalled. I thought, “Why are they challenging us on this and that?” We had been told that our project was too small and that we were not detailed enough. We were told that we needed a more multi-faceted project than what we were projecting in our first phase. I was a bit miffed and very confused. What should we do now?
So, we returned to draft mode for the project proposal. We filled in some blanks. We greatly expanded some aspects of the project. We tightened up things that needed to be tightened. We greatly expanded our horizons in thinking about the long term effects of community development and sustainability. We wrote another 14 pages of project clarification and action plans and strategy and community impact and family empowerment. It was painful to read some of the feedback and return to draft mode, yet it was necessary. What started initially as words of criticism became words God used to help us expand, rethink and re-envision. And, in the meantime we met some very supportive, encouraging co-laborers in the local gov’t office who are already cheering us on and dreaming of ways we can work together.
In all of it, God was at work. He was exerting His influence through people in a government office to help refine what His dreams were for Embracing Hope. He was using a bureaucracy to challenge us to think bigger and dream better. I never cease to be surprised at the places He shows up.
Now, as we submit our revisions, we again turn it all back over into His hands. We seek His favor with all that we will meet along the way…and we are grateful for His rule in all and over all. He exerts His power even over the thrones, rulers, powers and authorities…all the time bringing His Kingdom into greater fullness. He truly is God with Us, the One who changes everything using whatever means He desires! Praise be to Jesus, who is before all things and in whom all things are held together, even seemingly inefficient bureaucracy.