God Doesn’t Play Red Light, Green Light
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.” James 1:2-5
I hear a lot of people in faith communities talking about doors, like God is a concierge at an apartment building. “He opened the door” or “He closed the door” gets tossed around a lot. Yet I’ve come to realize that although God orders all our steps, we have agency over the moves we decide to make, too.
We turn to God for answers, direction and purpose in our lives, and He gives us Jesus all over again. Our faith isn’t a puzzle to be solved, it’s a path to be followed. But how?
Sure, I get the concept about open and closed doors. I’m just not sure I accept the premise that God is playing “red light, green light” games, telling us to advance or go back, in every situation.
While I do think God cares intimately about our hearts and ambitions when they’re His, I don’t think He’s necessarily the guy standing at the door, opening and closing it. If you’re a musician and sing bad songs, I wouldn’t be too quick to say “God shut the door on my career.” It’s a hard truth, but maybe it’s time to get better at singing.
If you’re an author and write uninspiring words, as has happened often, let’s aim to bring it to Jesus and not blame Him for it. What I’m saying is that it’s easy to conjure up divine intervention for poor performance. Let’s not fall for it. And instead, we can get busy getting better.
Does God engage in our lives in unseen ways? Certainly. Who knows how many guardian angels have put themselves between you and a bad outcome? Hitting a couple of road bumps doesn’t always mean God is trying to send a secret, encrypted message. Maybe what we tried just didn’t work out the way we hoped.
What I’ve come to really believe is that in God’s economy, nothing is ever wasted. Not our pain, nor our disappointments, nor our setbacks. These are tools that can be used later as a recipe for our best work. Quit throwing the “batter” away.
Today’s key verse says it best. “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him” (James 1:2-5).
Thankfully, God isn’t tapping His pencil on a scorecard, scrutinizing our every move until we get it right. He is with us while we navigate life’s difficulties. We all mess up — often. So let’s keep moving ahead. With our eyes on Jesus rather than caring how we look to everyone else. If we keep it about Jesus, He promised we’d come to know more about Him while we’re figuring out a few more things about ourselves.
Some things we try will work; others won’t. It’s that simple. So, I’m making it my goal to learn what I can from the successes or setbacks and move on.
Our failures don’t name us — God does. If you’re not hearing the name “beloved” whispered over your shoulder when you have a major face-plant or a setback, just remember, it’s not Jesus doing the talking.
Dear God, help me remember that failure is just part of the process, and it’s not just OK; it’s better than OK. Thank You for never keeping a record of my strikes and always helping me dust myself off so I can swing for the fences again. And for loving me always, no matter what. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Thank You, Jesus for these words of wisdom.
Psalm 37:23, “The LORD makes firm the steps of the one who delights in him.”
Galatians 6:9, “And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.”