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Watching, Unperturbed

The magician was truly awesome! He held the audience in the palm of his hand from the moment the house lights dimmed, playing with their emotions as deftly as a gifted musician. "Where did those rabbits come from?" "How did those scarves get in there?" "That saw has to be cutting into that woman! Look where it is!" "I can’t watch!" His acts left them bordering on hysteria…enormously impressed, greatly amazed, completely bewildered!

But while the crowd gasped with disbelief, his assistant watched. Unperturbed. And when the time was right, he played his part as he had been taught. He’d seen the acts before, yes, but more than that, he knew how the magician worked. He knew his ways. He watched with great calm as the lady was "sawed in two." He counted the rabbits to be sure none of them had wriggled to freedom, and he carefully folded and placed the scarves into their hidden compartments. He knew the magician’s ways.

HE MADE KNOW HIS WAYS TO MOSES, HIS ACTS TO THE SONS OF ISRAEL. Psalms 103:7

Lord, do something now! Why do you delay? What’s wrong with my plan, anyway? I think it’s a good plan! Why did You allow this to come into my life in the first place? What good could possibly come from this? Making this come out right would be such a little thing for You to do. Why do you allow this to continue in my life? Don’t You think it is about time to call this thing to a screeching halt? And we are saying, "I don’t understand what You are doing! I don’t understand Your ways!"

Mary is large with the child in her womb. Her first child…and the baby is due just any time now. She watches out the window as Joseph is making preparations for the trip to Bethlehem. "Oh, why must we go to Bethlehem now? I’m so big and uncomfortable. Lord God, I want to be here at home when I have my baby, with my family and friends all around to help me and encourage me. I don’t know anyone at all in Bethlehem. Just to be in my own bedroom. Please God, let me have my baby here at Nazareth. It is such a little thing to ask of You, and the trip is going to be so long and wearisome and painful for me. Would it matter terribly where the baby is born?

Mary might have prayed that way. But then, Mary didn’t know that her baby had to be born in Bethlehem. You see, the conception took place at the right time for the baby to come when they were in Bethlehem…that was nine months in advance; the shepherds had been chosen; the weather was planned; the star was in the right place; the wise men were on their way; other events in Herod’s life had brought his jealousy to the boiling point; every person had carried out his part of the program, even by renting all of the available rooms! Everything was ready in Bethlehem for the long-awaited prophecy to be fulfilled. God had carefully considered everything and then laid His plans (His ways are so different than ours. You accepted them, didn’t you Mary, but you pondered them in your heart.)

You remember Zacharias and Elisabeth, the father and mother of John the Baptist? They didn’t have John until very late in life. In fact, they had reached the age at which having children was highly improbable, if not impossible: "I am an old man, and my wife is advanced in years."

But one day, while Zacharias was ministering to the Lord in the Temple, the angel Gabriel came to him and said, "Zacharias, your prayer has been heard." Do you suppose Zacharias had been praying recently for a child? Do you think he was still entreating the Lord for a son? Maybe just yesterday in his prayers he said, "Oh, Lord! Elisabeth and I are so very lonely. How we yearn to have a child. Please, Lord, bless our union and send us a baby." I really doubt he had prayed that way for years. He had long since given up hope that he would ever hear the patter of little feet around the house … for he was an "old man" and his wife was "advanced in years."

"What prayer is it that you are referring to, Gabriel?"

"Why, the one that you prayed years and years ago, Zacharias. Remember? You asked God for a son. You see, the fullness of time has now come, and the Lord is going to give you the desire of your heart – a son, Zacharias, a son!" (He has a reason for waiting, doesn’t He, Zacharias? He planned for your son John to be with Jesus. Would you change His ways?)

Joseph, in the Old Testament, was allowed to be sold into slavery so that "when the proper time came" he would be in Egypt, where he was going to be used by God in an unbelievable way. What would your plan have been? How would you have transferred Joseph to Egypt, redefining his character, preparing him for the exalted position that he was to hold? (I think Joseph would tell us to carefully examine the ways of the Lord. He means them for good…not for evil.)

Our Lord lingered when Martha and Mary sent their urgent plea, "Come quickly. Lazarus is very ill!" Why did He delay? What was His plan? He knew what was going to happen, and He knew that great glory would come to God if He would just wait for a few days until all the details had been arranged. Martha and Mary didn’t know what His plans were. They were so distressed! (He loved Lazarus and Martha and Mary. Would He do anything to hurt them? Does He love me? Does He love you?)

I was praying for Pres. His back was really giving him fits. I said, "Lord, Pres has learned a lot during this time of pain and being limited in his life because of this back problem. He has tried to glorify You in all of it. I don’t see that having it linger is going to profit anyone, so I ask You right now to touch Pres and heal his back."

The Lord whispered to me: These are the plans you have for Pres, Anabel?

Yes, Lord.

This is what you would like for Me to do?

Yes, Lord.

I, too, have plans for Pres. Do you want Me to carry out your plans and abandon Mine?

But, I don’t know what’s in the future. I can’t see like God can see. I’m not wise like He is wise. My love for Pres is shallow and frail compared with God’s love for him. To choose my ways instead of God’s? Ridiculous thought!

No, Lord. I retract my request. Please do it Your way.

Dear, dear Mary. You didn’t know all of those things, did you? And it did seem like such a small favor to ask. Elizabeth, had you grown tired of dreaming? Joseph, did you ever wonder what good could possibly come out of all the bad things that were happening to you? Martha, Mary, were you heartsick when Jesus didn’t come at your urgent plea? And Pres…

Oh Lord, the prayers I utter are so often spoken in ignorance of Your plans. And sometimes it seems to me that it would be such an easy thing for you to answer my prayer…my way. To me it isn’t an earthshaking decision, and I’ve thought it out so carefully.

But Lord, I want to know Your ways. I don’t want to be controlled by fear or frustration, by pain or emotional distress of any kind. I don’t want to be ignorant of Your plans. I want to watch–unperturbed–Your acts–coming on stage as I have been taught–confident–understanding Your ways. And, Lord, I don’t want to change them.

About the Author

Anabel spent decades teaching in many contexts through Lifetime Guarantee Ministries. She has taught countless others how to have a genuine intimate faith and a sound marriage. She shared from her heart about living from the heart. Lifetime’s beloved founder and mentor passed away November 7, 2010. Her legacy and influence are timeless and priceless.