If there is one area of life that is difficult to develop for many Christians, it is in the area of letting God be God and submitting to his will. This is, however, the goal to be striven for. Those who reach it are above all most blessed. Even Jesus struggled in the garden with the will of His Father before finally coming to grips with the fact that as much as He wanted something, He had to submit to the Father.
Missionaries often have great goals. That may be inherent in their makeup or come as a part of their calling. The very fact that they have left hearth and home to serve God, often in primitive conditions, reveals a desire to accomplish great things for the Lord. They are even willing to sacrifice self for the cause. They often dream big. They also often learn, as King David learned, that their most grandiose plans are not at all what God has planned. It is not so much that there is something wrong with the plan as that it is not on the blueprint God has. This is a principle that holds true at home as well as on the field. God’s plans and ours are not always the same. What we need to do is hear from God what his plans really are and be willing to follow His agenda rather than our own. A second principle to be gleaned from this week’s lesson that is applicable to missions is that God often has different purposes for different people. All God’s people are called to be witnesses, but not all are called to do the same ministry. Gifts differ according to the will of God, and not everyone has the same gifts.
Since gifts differ, people should not expect others to do the same thing or serve in the exact same way as they do. God’s plans for David did not include building a temple. God accomplished a host of other very positive things through him, but the temple was not to be one of them. For Solomon, however, it was different. He would be used by God to do something his father was not allowed to do.
This truth is relevant for ministry at home as well. The reason there are many different spiritual gifts is that many are needed in the work of God. Do not expect others to do what you are doing. They may not be gifted the same. God’s purpose for them may be different from His purpose for you.
Finally, another great truth is the fact that God’s timing for something is often not our timing. The idea of a temple for God to dwell in was not turned down outright. God in fact allowed it to be built by the next generation. Seeing the devastation of people by disease, a missionary in Africa longed for the day when a medical clinic could be built so that missionaries could treat both body and soul. He ministered for some time in deplorable conditions and never saw the fruition of his dreams.
In the years following the missionary’s retirement, a clinic was actually built in the area where he had served. It is still serving the needs of people today. The timing of God to bring something to pass was not the timing of the missionary. God may, however, have used the man’s prayers as well as his letters home to bring about the dream in His own time.