We do not know what to do, but our eyes are upon you” 2 Chronicles 20:12
“OK, here’s my plan . . . and here’s my back-up plan.” “If this doesn’t work out, this is what we’re going to do.” It’s good to have a plan – even Jesus recommended it in certain situations (Luke 14:28). We go on a trip and plan the route and stops along the way. We make a plan to save for retirement. Some people (not me!) actually plan their family’s meals and shopping lists for the whole week. I am getting better at making plans for tackling tasks for the day. But there are times when plans get in the way of faith.
Let’s look at an Old Testament example. Please read 2 Kings 13:14-19. Joash (some translations say Jehoash) ruled over the northern kingdom of Israel, and the enemy was threatening. He went to Jehovah’s prophet, Elisha, who told the king to shoot an arrow in the direction of the enemy, Aram. This signified victory in the coming battle. Next, the old prophet commanded Joash to “take the arrows and strike the ground.” And here’s where we find our application.
Elisha’s command to “strike the ground” (shooting the arrows into the ground), was as a sign of the king’s faith in God’s ability to give Israel victory over their enemy. Elisha chastised him for only striking the ground three times saying, “You should have struck the ground five or six times, then you would have defeated Aram and completely destroyed it. But now you will defeat it only three times. Joash had five or six arrows, but only used three. What difference does that make to you and me? The arrows were symbolic – the real issue for Joash was, how much did he trust God? By shooting three arrows and keeping back two or three, the kings was showing that he didn’t trust God completely. He thought it best to hold back a few arrows – just in case God didn’t come through. He was depending on his “Plan B” rather than trusting God’s “Plan A.”
God had a promise for Joash and Israel – complete victory over the enemy. But God wanted the king to completely surrender and trust in His deliverance. Joash demonstrated a lack of faith in God. He thought it best to keep a back-up plan in his back pocket. Contrast Joash with Jehoshaphat, king of the southern territory of Judah. (Read 2 Chronicles 20:1-30 for the background.). The Moabites and Ammonites were breathing down their necks, and the king came before the Lord in total surrender, and our key verse is the heart of his prayer. The Lord’s answer was as unlikely a battle plan as Joshua and the battle of Jericho, but the king told his people, “Have faith in the Lord your God and you will be upheld” (v. 20). No plan B. No back-up strategy in his back pocket. Just faith. God promised deliverance, and we’re going to stand here and watch it happen.
We live in a world that believes in a contingency plan for every occasion. Getting married? Better sign a pre-nuptial agreement – just in case it doesn’t work out. Signing a business contract? Make sure the exit clause is in there in case it goes sour. We approach every decision and situation with a doubtful attitude. And we approach God in the same way. When His Word says “Trust me,” we say, “Yes, but what if You don’t come through?” When He says “Do this and I will be with you,” we step tentatively out on the ice with a rope tied around our waist, expecting the ice – expecting God – to fail us. Believe me when I say I understand doubts. I know how scary it is to step out in faith with no net below me. I am walking that tightrope now in seminary, not sure of what God has planned, but knowing that He has called me to this. I have questioned myself, and wondered “what will I do if this fails?” “What is my back-up plan?” But I have decided that God is faithful, completely dependable and I don’t need a plan B, because God’s plan A never fails. I am going to “Trust in the Lord with all [my] heart and lean not on [my] own understanding. I am going to “acknowledge Him in all [my] ways, believing that “He will make [my] path straight” (Proverbs 3:5-6).
My friend, you can count on God. People may have failed you, but God never will. His plans are perfect and as sure as His name – El Emunah – “God who is faithful.” I have staked my life on His character and His Word. No plan B. Nothing but complete trust and confidence in my Sovereign God. Step out onto the tightrope with God – you’ll be so glad you did when you reach the other side.
“Holy Father, I’m trusting You. I have no other plan but to follow where you lead, over thin ice and swaying tightropes, because I know that You are faithful. Amen.