About 25 years ago, God and I entered into this management contract of sorts. We’ve had our ups and downs, but generally – I think I do a pretty good job.
“Yes, sir,” I tell him as he slides into the seat next to me for our daily performance review, “It seems like you are doing a pretty good job these days, and I appreciate all your hard work.”
He smiles at me and just says he’s happy to see me, happy for the opportunity to show up. Given my superb leadership skills, I’m not altogether shocked, but I smile benevolently and continue the review:
“On this “Life Master Plan” project, I thought we had talked about going in a little different direction, but I see you’ve taken a detour . . .”
He beams at me across my cup of coffee and I can see he isn’t exactly getting the message, but I’m a pretty good communicator so I roll with it.
“Well, you are the God of the universe, master creator of all things, best in the business, so let’s just see where this decision takes us. I mean, it’s not the approach I would have taken, but . . .it’s like I always say, ‘Thy will be done!’”
He smiles at me and opens his mouth to say something, but I check my watch.
“Listen, I hate to run out on you like this, but . . . time is money. And it’s like you’re always telling me, stewardship is important. Just keep up the good work! Go team!”
I grab my phone and pick up my coffee. I’m a little apprehensive about this direction is God is taking us in, but I’m sure it will all work out. After all, the plan is to prosper me, right? And I’m pretty sure that he is trustworthy.
For the next few days God seems to be doing a good job, so I cancel our morning meetings. I can see that his detour is probably going to get us right where I wanted to be after all, so I leave it in his capable hands. But then, on day number 7, I get a phone call.
When I hang up, my hands are shaking. I don’t know whether to cry or break something. I hear the voice on the other end of the phone over and over again in my mind. A major life dream is dashed. Nothing I can do about it. It can’t be changed. That detour God was working on? Turns out it wasn’t a detour so much as a new direction . . . and not one I like.
I can’t even deal with him for a few days. He has a party at his house on Sunday and I skip that. Skip his supper on Wednesday night too.
“Just need a little time to cool down,” I tell my spouse when he asks about it. “I don’t want to say something I’ll regret.”
A week passes. Then two. And then a month. I honestly don’t know if he’s on the job or if he’s off at this point. I pretend like I don’t care, but then I think of all the things I have sacrificed for him and I get angry all over again.
Finally, one night I can’t sleep and I decide to call an early morning meeting. I get up to prepare.
He knocks on the door and I invite him in, all icy like. He doesn’t seem to mind; when he sits down next to me he has the kindest smile.
“I’ve missed you,” he says.
I brush it off and get right down to business.
“Look here, God,” I say. “I’m most appreciative of all the hard work you’ve done for me. But, I think maybe you are getting a little distracted? Because I thought we had this plan? I was worried at our last meeting when you indicated you might be taking us off course for a while, but I never thought that meant forever. But look at these charts! Look at these graphs! I’m never going to be able to do that mission work when I’m 70 if I can’t retire one day!”
He looks over my spreadsheets carefully and asks about the categories on them: income, assets, status, Facebook likes. . .
I continue. “I thought it was great that you wanted to take ownership and do things your way, but, well … what’s going on? I’m going to need to review those plans of yours.”
Across the table he just stares at me for a minute, and then he takes my phone and opens the Bible app.
I roll my eyes. I respect the Bible and all those stories in it, but how exactly am I supposed to find his plan for me in there?
“You’re going to have to do better than that,” I say, angry. “Come back to me when you can show me a verse or a chapter. None of this whole book business!”
As I stand to dismiss him, I add: “If you’re really all in on this, then you’ll do your homework before our meetings. Don’t make me tell you again.”
The next morning I see he has sent me several devotionals in my inbox, and I glance over them quickly. Okay, okay … so he hasn’t neglected his duties completely, but I’m still not sure he is fulfilling his part of the bargain. I decide to invite him for a follow up meeting to discuss the matter further.
He shows up at my house and before he can even make it over the threshold I begin to recite a long list of ways in which I have fulfilled our arrangement. I tell him the things I’ve given up, the risks I’ve taken, the fun things I’ve avoided to make this partnership profitable. He stares at me meekly, and I just say it:
“Okay, I’ve given up a lot to develop you…but frankly, I’m just not seeing the return on investment. Tell me again why we should continue in this relationship? Don’t you think you’d be happier with another boss?”
He puts the coffee cup he is carrying on the table and for a long minute, he just looks at me. Then, he starts to chuckle. My face gets a little red because who is he to laugh at me? Isn’t he supposed to be loving?! And then his chuckle becomes a roaring laughter, and I can’t see why any of this is a laughing matter at all. In fact, I feel downright mad.
Finally, he calms down enough to speak. And he starts to ask me some questions . . . questions like “How joyful are you?” “How peaceful?” “How content?” “How much freedom do you have?”
Before I think I start sputtering and stuttering, because my answers to those questions aren’t good. But then, isn’t he supposed to be taking care of those things for me? Wasn’t that part of our plan?
“Isn’t that what I’ve been telling you to do?” I finally verbalize. “Haven’t I been telling you how to take care of all that for me? That’s the whole problem! You’re not doing your job!”
He smiles at me and says, “That’s true. You have been telling me how to do that.”
He pauses and then asks, “Maybe you’d be happier with another boss?”
And now my face turns scarlet, because I see the point he’s making. And I know I’ve done it again … flipped the roles, made myself the God, made him the associate. As usual, it’s not panning out.
“I’m so sorry,” I say. “Will you forgive me? Can we start fresh?”
“Already taken care of,” he smiles gently. “After all, like you asked before, my will is done. Ready for a new day?”
I open my mouth to say yes, but before I can get the words out he pushes the cup of coffee over to me. Then he winks and says, “I love you just the way you are, but I made coffee for a reason.”
And I laugh, because his knowledge of me in this small detail shows just how much he cares.