Sometimes it’s hard to even try to fathom the mystery of God’s plan for our lives. Often we wonder, “why me?” “or why does this happen?” or “when will it stop?” We’re comforted in hearing that in Romans 8:28 it says that all these thing will work for the good of those that love God and are called according to his purpose, but God’s plan remains to us a mystery. We will not always know God’s purpose, but we must trust him, sometimes in ignorance, because he is our Master, and that’s all we really need to know. This story I hope will help to illustrate this point:
In the late 1980s, when Justine and I were “dinks” (double income, no kids) we lived on the 14th floor of a condo high rise on McKinney Ave., near downtown Dallas. I worked as an associate at Baker & Botts and Justine worked as a paralegal at Thompson & Knight. We had two small Yorkshire Terriers, one I adopted on marriage called Corky and one I named called Calvin (stop your snickering).
Because Justine and I were both at work all day long, we kept Corky and Calvin in the kitchen with the doors closed, as this was the only room in the condo not carpeted. Suffice it to say, the little guys have very tiny bladders and had to hold themselves all day long, from about 8am to 7pm usually. By the time we came home and went into the kitchen, the little guys were ready to burst (don’t tell our Vet we did this or the SPCA). Well, it’s not like we could just open the door and let them out to do their business–after all, we were on the 14th floor of a posh Condo tower! So what did we do?
We had this box, a dog carrier with a caged front door. We ordered the dogs to “Get in the box! Get in the box!”
Now, mind you, the dogs were very excited to see us, and we were happy to see them, but with their little bladders about to burst I wasn’t about to pick them up or let them jump on my nice work clothes. Would you? So rather than greeting them with open arms I sternly ordered the little critters to “get in the box, get in the box.”
Imagine if you will, if you have a good imagination that is, that you were the little Yorkie. Here’ you’ve been a prisoner in this kitchen all day, you’re so happy the master is home, and your bladder is about to burst. And what does the master say? Does he say, “let’s go outside” or “come here, puppies”? No, he says sternly “get in the box.” What’s up with that?
At first, the dogs were reluctant to get in the box, but after I sternly repeated my command, they learned they had to obey and that they had no choice.
Once in the box, of course, we had to ride the elevator down to the basement, then walk through the garage, climb steps and finally emerge in the designated “dog area” outside the building. There I released them from their cage, they did their business at last, I petted them, and we played. The time for celebration eventually came, but only after a strange journey down and up, all the while confined in a box.
So why I am I telling this story? Well, the entire time I of course was completely aware of the entire circumstances. I knew they had full bladders. I knew they were happy to seem me and couldn’t control themselves in such circumstances. I knew the building management didn’t want dog pee on the hallway carpet. I knew my neighbors didn’t want their shoe polish blemished. I knew the only reason to put the dogs in the box was to keep them from all that, and thereby to assure their continued happy residence in the building.
But what did the dogs understand? They knew their bladders were full and that their master, after a long absence, only wanted them caged. Nothing more. Could these dogs have possibly comprehended what my dry-cleaning bill would be if they soiled my suit? Could they have ever read the lease knowing the grounds for eviction included not controlling the behavior of animals? Could they have understood where I was taking them as they rode down that elevator? Could they have known how long the journey in the box would last? When they got in the box, did they know it would take minutes? hours? days? Did they even know where I was taking them?
No, they could have understood none of this. Rather, they just had to learn to trust me and to obey me and believe that I was caring for them. Later, after a few such experiences, when I arrived home, what did they do? I’m sure you’ve guessed it, as soon as I arrived, they would run right into the box! And they knew that the box was the only place they wanted to be right then.
We don’t want to push this analogy too far of course, I can already imagine the humorous comebacks from you all.
But consider this, if there is such an unspannable gap between me and my dogs in understanding of the meaning and purpose of my ordering them to get in the box, how much greater is the gap in the understanding between our own and the Sovereign, Omniscient God of the Universe of the events and trials and tribulations in life that we face?
Next time you find yourself in the box, trust and obey God. He is caring for you. After a while, your trust will become strong enough that you will properly consider that box to be the best place for you at that particular moment in time.