If you’re a Baptist usher or served as one, you are pretty familiar with the mouthed, half-whispered question, “Do you have a program?” Even more familiar to an usher is the extended hand, then pointed index finger waving and twirling at the folded paper in your grasp. As an usher or usher stand-in, you are also acquainted with the outdone expression that greets you when you don’t have this neatly folded piece of paper that bears the “Order of Service”. Yes, black Baptists love their programs. Now I’m not sure what other dominations, ethnicities, or churches, for that matter, love; as an usher, I don’t get out much. But, I’m confident that the congregation at my church is fairly obsessed with these paper prophecies. Whether it is the weekly worship hour, the annual MLK celebration, Pastor’s anniversary, or funeral, we Baptist want to know what’s happening now and what’s happening next.
We like to like to anticipate the festivities and celebrate when things will begin and end. Perhaps this need to know is born out of our impatience or need for control. Either way we need to hold and examine programs. And maybe that’s why we are absolutely mystified by God. He does not hand out programs nor does he acknowledge request for one. Unlike an usher, he flat out ignores that extended hand with the twirling finger. In fact, in the right circumstances, he’ll grab that hand by its wrist and forcibly shove it aside, as if to say, “How dare you ask me when and how I’m going to do something.” Instead of providing us with an “Order of Service” to soothe our doubts and fears, he feeds us His plan line by line. There is no scrolling down to the bottom “to see what the end’s gonna be” We just have to wait until He gets done.
God does not reveal His entire plan to us because He knows that it’s entirely too much for us to take in. If we knew God’s program, we would either try to help things move along by “Amening” or clapping in the appropriate place, so that we could quickly move to the next thing on the agenda, or we would just sabotage the program because things aren’t laid out the way that we want them to be. We would sit around asking questions like, “God, why is Love your Messy Co-Worker listed BEFORE Land the Job You Really Want on YOUR program? I’d rather get the new job and then love her from afar.” Instead of revealing his agenda, God simply tells us to stop worrying about what’s on the program and to get with the program. He is never looking for us to lead, so there isn’t any need for us to know where we are headed. Paul tells us to be anxious for nothing, but through pray and supplication we should make our request known to God (Philippians 4:6). Then we are assured that God knows what we need and that He will work it all out for our good.
Getting with God’s program demonstrates our absolute trust in and dependency on Him. It is a manifestation of this this thing we walk by: faith (1 Corinthians 5:7) Without any regard to what lies ahead, we follow in the footsteps of Christ, relying on the stillness of the Holy Spirit to lead us down the path that God has created for us. God is not concerned with our plans nor our attempts to change things, He has His own perfect purpose; all He requires from us is that we “Get with His Program.”
No Longer Beckoning for the Usher,