When God Vetoes Your Plan (Prayer and Sovereignty)

August 5, 2010 by cloften  
Filed under Family and Parenting

If I had known that for the 3rd time in a row that we would move before selling our house, I would have kept a journal or something and recorded those thoughts in a handful of blog posts.  Since I didn’t, these thoughts are going to be a little more reflective and rambly (more rambly? than what? your usual posts?  not possible.  Agreed)  The reason I didn’t keep a journal is that, in all seriousness, I never believed that it would go down this way.

A little history.

The first house that we tried to sell was when we moved from Conway, AR to go to seminary.  The house sat empty for 6 months.  At the time I was a pizza delivery guy and then a Chick-Fil-A night manager with a max income of about $1000/mth.  Meanwhile, I’m a full-time student with two kids and Heidi is a full-time stay-at-home mom.  It was a huge stretch for us.  I didn’t think we would make it.  Meanwhile our only car blows up.  The car we get to replace it turns out to be a lemon.

Result: We left seminary with more money than we came with.  God showed himself to be much bigger (and complicated) than I ever realized.

The second house was when we moved from St. Louis to Cabot to start Fellowship Cabot. That house sat empty for 5 months (We’re improving).  Fortunately, we were going to make more money and felt confident financially.

Result: A builder/realtor that was part of the plant team allowed us to move into a house he built before we could buy it (for free!) until our house sold and we closed when we sold our house.  We lived in a house that was bigger and nicer than we ever thought we would live in.  God showed himself to be in control and had a plan worked out so much better than the one we were praying for.

This brings us to the present and we have not, as of this post, sold our house in Cabot.  We moved to Fayetteville last week.  We have had more showings than we did before, more “almosts” than before, we had it sold for about 14 hours.  However, here we are, where we have always been.  We left a house.  There have not been many things that we have prayed for more than this.  Many people all over have been praying for us.  If you could “pray your way” into a certain outcome, this would be it.  If God’s hand could be forced by faithful, diligent, believing prayers, we would have sold our house 2 months ago.

So what does this mean?  Best I can figure there are two groups that believe that they have prayer all figured out.  First are the ultra-sovereignty (my word) people.  God is going to do what he is going to do regardless.  We pray because God says we should, and prayer changes us, not what’s going to happen.  My problem there is that the Bible says so much about how when we ask in faith we receive.

This leads us to group two.  If you believe and pray, you will get what you ask for.  Not getting what you ask for means there is something wrong with you.  Very clever.  Any time I don’t get what I ask for, it’s my fault.  That way I chase my disappointment with guilt and failure.  Problem here is, Paul, who I’m guessing had more faith than me, prayed for an affliction to be taken away and God said no.  Furthermore, God is not a puppet on a string that submits himself to the whims and wills of sinful people.

So where does that leave us?  That leaves us in the murky middle.  I believe that God is in complete control.  I believe prayer changes the world.  I believe God answers prayer.  I believe God’s plan is better than mine.  Sometimes these truths collide.  Sometimes God vetoes your plan and we are left with a crisis of sorts.

Is there something wrong with me?  Does prayer not work? Does God not care? Is God really not in control?

No, no, no, no.

Is God working out a plan more complicated and better for me than mine? Do I need to learn trust?  Is a good, loving, sovereign God got this?

Yes, yes, yes.

Details to come (soon?) on how God worked all this out.

(BTW, You can find earlier ramblings on this topic here)


2 Responses to “When God Vetoes Your Plan (Prayer and Sovereignty)”
  1. Peter says:

    A middle ground can be found in what has come to be called Molinism. An illustration of how this can apply to Biblical inspiration can be found at William Lane Craig’s website. It’s a way to balance sovereignty with free choice. Reasonable Faith: ‘Men Moved By the Holy Spirit Spoke From God’ (2 Peter 1.21): A Middle Knowledge Perspective on Biblical Inspiration http://shar.es/0adf4

  2. Kim Blanchette says:

    Interestingly, we find ourselves in a similar situation: 3 times moved before selling the previous house. In our situation, however, each time has taken longer. This time, 18 months and counting since we put this last house on the market. What I have learned in this situation is not to pray for a particular outcome, but rather, to pray for God’s provision until God decides to provide the particular outcome I desire. If we never sell that house, I believe the Lord will provide just what we need, when we need it, like manna from Heaven. Whether that provision is through unexpected sources of income (which has happened many times over the last 18 months), or refining our budget in ways that we never have had to do before, we’ve been able to cover our bills, and managed to save a little too. Praying for God’s provision, until He brings a buyer to us has given us a great deal of peace during this process.

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