by Bruce M. Burkett
Schedule Changes, Green Hair, and God’s Will
Bruce M. Burkett | January 31, 2018
This past week, God taught me a lesson that I will not soon forget. Let me share with you why this is the case. It is my hope it will be as much of an encouragement and help to you as it was to me.
On Thursday, I was set to fly out to a preacher’s meeting out of town. After getting a phone call asking if I could come a little earlier for a special dinner the night before the meeting was to take place, I did everything I could to make it happen. It seemed like such a great opportunity, and I just knew God wanted me to be there for it (or, at least, I thought I did). Yet, after seeking for God to open the door, it became apparent very soon that He was not going to do so.
At first, I was more than a little frustrated. I thought that a schedule change is what needed to take place. I just knew what God’s will had to be, only to find out that God decided to close the door. At the moment, I just shrugged it off as one of the misfortunes of life. Yet, I was soon reminded that when God closes one door, it is because He is opening another one. God’s delays are not God’s denials.
It was not but a few moments later that our church secretary received a phone call from one of our local public schools. The social studies teacher had been calling around to all of the “religious institutions” in town trying to get somebody to allow him to bring part of his class over to interview a minister. He told her that everyone else he had called had declined. So, our secretary told him that she believed that I would be willing to do the interview.
When she then approached me about it, I sensed that God was leading us to take advantage of this opportunity. Certainly, there was a part of me that said, “You know that they are just going to try to pick you apart and report falsely what you say.” Yet, God’s Spirit also spoke to me, saying, “For the Holy Ghost shall teach you in the same hour what ye ought to say” (Luke 12:12). So we went forward with it.
The next day, at the same time that I thought I had wanted to be flying out early for a preacher’s meeting, I found myself sitting in my office with a public school teacher and several students. As they came in, there were several things that I immediately noticed. First, there was the strong smell of marijuana — still not sure exactly who it was coming from. Then there was the kid with green hair who, upon shaking my hand, informed me that he was a “pagan” and had no interest in our religion. Finally, there was the the young man who told me that he was a Christian, but had really had his faith shaken in this public school class — he wanted me to help him understand the difficult questions posed to him by his classmates and teachers.
When we sat down, the recording began. Honestly, I did not know what to expect, but I was just asking God to give me wisdom. The students began to ask question after question to me. Things like, “How could a loving God lead Israel to wipe out entire nations, including little children?”, “How could a loving God command to stone people who were homosexual?”, and other such questions.
By God’s grace, He enabled me to answer every question, then turn the discussion to the Gospel. As we continued to talk, God began to work. As we began to discuss the Word of God, it provided to me the opportunity to explain to these young people the balance between God’s love and God’s justice. From God’s Word, we were able to discover how God hates sin, but He loves sinners. We were able to see how God hated sin so much that He had to punish it; but He chose to punish His own Son for all of our sins. We were able to see how God loves each one of us so much that, even though we deserve punishment, He suffered that punishment in our place. From that point, we were able to see how God’s acceptance of us is not based on how good of people we are or how good we do in life, but it is solely based on our belief in Jesus and what He has done for us. God does not accept us based on what we do for Him, but He accepts us on the basis of what Jesus has already done for us.
As God allowed me to share these truths, it was amazing to see the “lightbulb” go off in the heads of these young people — God’s Spirit was working. As we approached the end of the conversation, the Christian young man spoke up right there in front of his peers, saying something to this effect, “My belief in Jesus has never been stronger or more sure!” After he spoke up, the young man with green hair spoke up, “I have been a pagan for as long as I can remember. And I honestly thought that I was going to be judged coming in here to this church today. But, after hearing what you just said, I have to be honest, I think I would like to become a Christian.”
My heart welled up with joy as these young people spoke these words! God’s Word had obviously had an impact on their hearts. But, sadly, before I was able to help any of these young people make any type of decision, the teacher insisted on finishing the interview and getting out of there. As we finished things up, I walked with them back down to the vehicle they had come in, and encouraged them that they were always welcome and that if they ever wanted to talk more about Jesus, to come see me.
As they drove away, my heart was filled with wonder at the manner in which God’s will works in each one of our lives. The details of this life experience were so obviously orchestrated by God, but in the midst of them coming together I could not see it. Yet, I am so glad that, in spite of what I thought to be best for my life, I submitted to what God knew was best. He knows better what His will for my life is than I ever will.
By the way, I still ended up making it to that meeting. My flight landed early and I was able to make it there right when I needed to. God certainly has a roundabout way of aligning our steps in accordance to His will!
Let me encourage you today, whether you are in the midst of a valley or just a frustrating experience, trust God’s plan. He may be orchestrating the events in your life in a particular order just to use you as a witness to someone who needs to know about Jesus. No matter what it is, you can be certain He has something in store for you — and whatever it is will be so much more significant that whatever you thought needed to happen.
“Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.” (Proverbs 3:5-6)