The good thing you are not called to do
After the king was settled in his palace and the Lord had given him rest from all his enemies around him, he said to Nathan the prophet, “Here I am, living in a house of cedar, while the ark of God remains in a tent.” Nathan replied to the king, “Whatever you have in mind, go ahead and do it, for the Lord is with you” But that night the word of the Lord came to Nathan, saying:“ Go and tell my servant David, ‘This is what the Lord says: Are you the one to build me a house to dwell in? (2 Samuel 7:1-5)
Today’s message is for those who have had a godly desire and wanted to do something about it! Perhaps you are the type of person who uses the phrase “I’ll do it myself”. These sentiments can arise when you get an expensive quote for a home project or maybe you have a deadline at work and a coworker isn’t pulling their weight. Moms may say these words because they have asked their kids to do something and the task has been left undone. We may decide to do something ourselves it is harder to show someone else and you have done the task many times before. For me in my walk with God, I can often see a need or have a “good” idea and immediately want to respond with decisive action. What I do not always realize is that moving forward can pull me away from the exercise God actually wants me to do. The good thing I want to do may even be something God wants but is calling someone else to do for His special purposes and reasons.
This year, I have been encouraged to be prayerful and laser-focused directing my time and energy on what God is calling me to do. While I agree wholeheartedly with this advice, this task has been decidedly more difficult than I thought it would be. This exercise requires patience, waiting on God, trusting Him for the outcome. I have recently had to do some soul searching as to what drives me to action. Part of it is because I have a fire within me for the things of God and I so want to be a part of what Jesus is doing. Another part of it may be a fear that if I don’t do something it will not get done, that somehow God is waiting on me to act and I am missing the message. In the end, this is rooted in a lack of trust in God, that He is not ordering my steps but waiting for me to do something more, to get my spiritual act together, to pray harder, to love better, to be more fearless. The problem with having a faith rooted in self-effort is that the Christian walk becomes more about what I do and not what Jesus has done and what God will do. It seemed that David needed to be reminded of this as well, that He was not the end all be all of representing the Kingdom of Heaven, that God was the one driving the narrative.
In the verse above David found himself finally entering into the promises of God. He was established as King over Israel with victory over national enemies, and a palace where he could finally rest his head without being on the run for his life. David looked at his own elaborate home and saw the God he loved and served abiding in a tent. His heart was stirred up with such passion for God Almighty that he desired to make Him a house of cedar to dwell in that rivaled his own. The spirit and calling within David was so infectious that even the prophet Nathan hearing David’s plan said “go and do all that is within your heart!” (2 Sam 7:3) Then God showed up to Nathan revealing His will in this situation, that David should stop immediately as he was not the one called to build the temple of God.
David had unknowingly moved outside his divine calling by making a major plan without God’s direction. I don’t think we can simply say that David had a good heart but missed God’s intentions nor can we outright say that David was in prideful sin deviating from God. Like much of the decisions we make as children of God, limited, finite and still, under the influence of sin, there can be a mixture of love, good intentions, brokenness, and sin. Like a little child who makes a mess in the kitchen putting themselves in harms way by making a surprise breakfast for the family, the parents might at the same time be encouraged and troubled instructing their children to wait for someone to help next time. The parents are likely to experience joy in their hearts because their kids wanted to do something nice for them while knowing that they will have to help clean up the mess and create better boundaries in the future. God is pleased with David’s heart but at the same time needs to correct his plans reminding him of who is the One bringing all things to pass and bringing divine limitations to David’s place in the story.
The Lord puts David back on track by humbling him, then sharing the loving commitment He has for David's past, present, and future in ways He could never imagine!
God humbles David by revealing that he is changing something established by God Himself. He basically says, “I have chosen to be in a tent for all these years so what makes you think that you are the one to change all that I have established? Did I instruct you to do this?”
After humbling David, God shares with him of His love and commitment for David since his youth calling him as a simple shepherd, protecting him from his enemies while on the run from Saul. God is saying to David, “I Am the One who has protected you and established you, this was not through your own effort but by My will”!
God then shares his love and commitment to the present promising protection for Israel through David’s reign. God was planning to do wonderful things through his life making his name great pushing back the enemies of Israel. God is saying “I Am with you now and I am the One who will continue to protect this nation and make your name great!”
Finally, God shares His loving commitment to David's future, his children and children’s children for many generations! The Lord reveals that there will be a house built for God’s name and David’s son is going to build it! So, it turns out that David’s desire to see a place built for God’s name was in line with God’s plans but not by David and not in his design or timing. David’s Heavenly Father is the one driving the agenda and He is the one who is going to see it through from beginning to end in ways David could have never imagined!
The Epilogue of this story is that David in his old age stores up supplies for His son Solomon to equip and enable him to do the work he was called to do, to build the temple for God’s name to dwell (1 Chronicles 29). God had a calling on David to push back the enemies from the land and on Solomon to establish the riches of God’s glory including temple worship (1Chronicles 28:3). David released from this self-imposed responsibility could now concentrate on his own assignment and appreciate the call on His son’s life and be a support for him instead of doing the work himself.
What we can glean from this pivotal moment in David's life is that God has a plan for each one of us that far surpasses anything we can come up with for ourselves. Not everything we desire to do is what we are called to do. We can also come to appreciate the work of others and their particular call. This does not mean we are called to do the thing they are but whether through finances, moral support, or prayer we can come under our brothers and sisters for what we know God wants to do through them.
How wonderful are the plans of God which are so much better than our own and how lovingly He has ordered all the details of your life! I am here to tell you that it is ok to let go of the good thing that God has not called you to do. God is saying the same thing to you that He said to His servant David. I have loved you, I have taken care of you and I will establish you in all that I have prepared for you. He has a wonderful plan for your life that will be revealed in its proper timing. God has made you to be vibrant and active in His Kingdom’s work and He wants you to pour your life into the assignment given to you. Your assignment will not be easy, but it will be yours, specially designed to grow you in your relationship and dependence on God and to bring glory to Jesus in all things. You can rest in the love of Jesus knowing that He has your life in His capable hands from beginning to end.