In their hearts humans plan their course, but the LORD establishes their steps. Proverbs 16:9 It is natural to be result-driven. Most of us are judged based on the result of our actions. We work ourselves to exhaustion because we want the desired result for our hard work and recognition from others. We view the desired result as evidence of our aptitude for excellence, and society rewards us accordingly. Our eagerness to see the desired result can often cause discouragement and frustration when that result is delayed, or when it is not what we expected. We need to realize that humans do not determine outcomes. All we can do is sow seeds, give our best, or work our hardest, but it is God who determines the result. God does expect us to do our part in plowing the ground and sowing the seeds so there will be a harvest. Yet that harvest may not come when we want and how we want. Many of our sacrifices will not be rewarded until we get to heaven. We should not be in a hurry to get successful results. Some of my biggest mistakes came when I tried to dictate what the result should be. God knows the plans he has for us. When our efforts are not aligned with God’s plans for us, they will not be established. That does not mean we fail. There can be a success in our failures. Indeed, looking back at the many ways and times that I failed, I am glad that I did. The lessons that I learned from those failures have strengthened my relationship with God and taught me valuable lessons that are helping me to become more fruitful in ministry. Perhaps that is why we need a paradigm shift so we can be more focused on fruitfulness than success. Whereas the world does not necessarily value fruitfulness, God does. Many school teachers may never get rich and famous in their chosen vocation, though they are quite fruitful in their commitment to shaping the minds of young people. We seldom get to see the result of our evangelism efforts. Indeed, when we share the gospel with an unbeliever, it is God who determines how the person is going to respond, and how that life is going to be shaped by the gospel. God determines the future of our children. Most parents invest years in the upbringing of their children while spending a small fortune in their schooling and in supplying the needs of those children because they want them to be “successful.” Yet despite a parent’s best effort, they cannot determine what a child is going to become or do. As difficult as it may be for some people to accept, it is God who is going to determine the result of the presidential election on November 3rd. It would be arrogant of any of us to think that we can determine outcomes. The coronavirus pandemic has exposed our impotence and compelled us to acknowledge that we do not control outcomes. Consequently, many companies have had to reduce their workforce, professional sports had to have their games without fans, churches have had to rely on virtual platforms to do their activities, most schools have gone virtual, and governments are struggling to keep up with the impact of the pandemic in their economy. Even the medical establishment cannot predict what is going to happen with the pandemic during the winter. Despite their best effort to develop a vaccine, they cannot determine how that vaccine will alleviate the dreaded second wave that is expected during the winter. Only God will determine when there will be an effective vaccine for COVID-19. The Lord will determine when people will stop dying from the virus. All we can do is practice social distancing and follow the guidelines from government and medical officials.
Let us continue to pray for unbelieving family and friends. Parents should not stop interceding for wayward children. We should continue to speak out against racism and injustice. In as much as it is within our means, we should continue to speak out for the voiceless, help the helpless, provide shelter for the homeless, and let God determine when social inequality will end. Questions for Reflection What result are you expecting from God, and how is that expectation shaping your prayer life? How is your faith in God helping you to trust God with the result for the seeds that you have sown? Prayer- Blessed Lord, may we continue to live in excellence as we do the work of your kingdom. Please give us the humility to accept that you determine the outcome of our labor.