When I go to a meeting or a class or a conference, I like to know what to expect. I like to see a program or an agenda or a schedule, so I can know when the sessions will begin, when they will end, who the speakers will be, when we will have breaks, how long those breaks will be, and so on. I am very used to going to that sort of thing, so I am able to sit still and listen for long periods of time when I need to; that is, if I know what to expect. Even if I know the session is going to be three hours long and boring, I can put up with it—if I know that is what’s coming. I then go in fully expecting to have to sit and twiddle my thumbs for that long. I can do that. But I am far less able to sit that long, and I can become very restless, when I don’t know what is coming, or, if what I have to sit through is not what I was expecting.
A while back, for example I went to such a meeting. The meeting started at 7:45 and from the agenda, it looked like it would be a short meeting. I was expecting it to be over in about 45 minutes, or, at about 8:30. But then we got hung up on one silly little item and did not get out of there until after 10:00. That became very frustrating. Had I known it was going to take that long, it would not have been a problem. But going there expecting a short meeting, and then sitting there three times as long as I planned, was irritating.
I am sure you know what I mean. When you go to church, you expect the service to last about an hour. That is what you are used to and you are ready for that and if the service is finished on time, everyone is happy. But once in a while the service will go on a little longer, and sometimes, even much longer. And you notice that, don’t you? And you begin to look at your watch and you might start getting restless. That isn’t what you were expecting.
Another example. Many of you have had to sit in a waiting room while a loved one goes through a complicated and life-threatening surgery. The doctor will often tell the family ahead of time how long their loved one will be in the operating room. The doctor might say it will last six hours, and that is a very long time to wait; but knowing ahead of time what to expect helps you be prepared to endure it. However, if the doctor says the surgery will take only an hour or less, but then complications turn it into a six hour surgery, that kind of unexpected and uncertain wait can be almost unbearable. We like to know what to expect, and then we can be ready for it.
Did you know that God has an agenda for your life? Do you know what it is? Perhaps not. But in life, just as in meetings or in hospital waiting rooms, it helps to know what to expect. Wouldn’t it be nice to know ahead of time God’s agenda for your life? Wouldn’t it be nice to know what to expect so you can be able to prepare for it?
Well, God does have such an agenda for your life. I don’t know the details of the agenda or how long each item on the program will last, but I can tell you the program. It is the same program for everyone.
This is a simple three step program, and it will be easy to remember because every one of the three steps in the Program, begins with a ‘P:’
–Program Item #1 is PROMISE; God has given you some great and wonderful promises.
–Next, skip ahead to Program item #3 which is PROVISION; God will provide the fulfillment of all his promises.
–But before that there is Program item #2, and this middle item on the program is the one that gives us the most trouble. Between the PROMISE and the PROVISION, there will always and for everyone be Item #2 on the Program, PROBLEMS.
This is God’s three part agenda for your life—Promises, Problems, and Provisions. Keeping that agenda in mind will help you immensely in your life. Then you will know what to expect, and you will not be surprised or overwhelmed.
At large and important meetings, such as church conventions, the very first item on the agenda is to adopt the agenda. That is usually just a formality, but sometimes there are objections to the program presented, and delegates can make a motion to revise the agenda before it is adopted.
If in our lives we had such an opportunity to revise God’s agenda for us, we all would probably make a motion to eliminate item #2 on the agenda, the Problems. We like the part about the Promises, and we most certainly look forward to the Provision which brings the fulfillment of those promises, but we have a problem with the Problems.
Adding to the frustration is that it seems as though that part of the agenda never ends, but goes on and on as we go through life dealing with one darn thing after another. And if God is God, we wonder, why does it have to be that way? Why can’t God, in all his almighty power, just make all the problems go away? This question is asked by every one of us as we face our own problems: Why couldn’t God have healed him of cancer; God has done so for others. Why can’t I just ever get caught up financially; it seems so easy for others. Why did that patch of ice have to be right there; I was doing all right in my own home, and now here I sit in a care center with a broken hip and I’m not sure I’ll ever get out. And so on. Everyone on earth has their problems and their questions for God.
And yet, the Bible makes it clear that God himself has put problems on the agenda for our lives; at least ever since sin entered the world in the Garden of Eden. We know it is a fact of life, and we know it is in the Bible, but in our pain we still want to know WHY? (continued…)