This next week I will be preaching on 1 Samuel 9. It has been a confusing passage for me in the past. It has not been confusion because it is difficult to grasp. It has been confusing because of the detail that seems to be superfluous to the story-line. (*spoiler alert*) Saul is going to be anointed as the first king over Israel, but there is all of this long set up about his quest for his father’s lost donkeys.
Can a story start out any more routine than this in an agricultural community? “Son, the donkeys got out of the pen again! Take a servant and go find them!” And Saul sets off on a mundane and probably annoying task.
As I studied the text this week, it became clear that the details are offered to demonstrate the way that God works in our everyday lives. Just this morning as I sat down to blog at a coffee shop, I ran into friend and he joined me and we had an excellent, unplanned conversation that encouraged and built us both up. I was “looking for donkeys” and God had a meeting for me instead.
I am going to begin using the phrase “looking for donkeys” as a metaphor for the thing I “think” I am doing. I put think in air quotes, because the Bible reveals that there is another, deeper reality to the things that I am doing. Because Saul was really looking for donkeys, but God was sending him to Samuel to be anointed as King. In this text I see a framework for looking at my everyday life in a way that imbues even the most mundane of activities with deeper purpose and hope. It isn’t that looking for donkeys is only a means to the good stuff either.
It is not that we do stuff with the real hope being that God will break in and anoint us king. I will be using this phrase in my life as a reminder that the routine things are never merely routine. Mundane daily activities are infused with purpose as I consider the sovereign God who is working out His purposes in my everyday life.
I thought I was going to be a summer camp counselor at Camp Barakel in 1993. But, without taking away from the spiritual growth in myself and my campers that summer, God was bringing Linda and I together. I didn’t know the significance of going to Camp Barakel that summer, I was just looking for donkeys. I can think of many illustration of this reality. My life is full of the routine and mundane everyday events resulting in something different than what I thought I was doing.
My point in blogging about this, is to encourage a trust in the Almighty God who infuses our routine lives with meaning and significance. The way we think about our lives, our purposes, and our routines has the power to shift us over to lives of expectant and hopeful worship. Here I am l0oking for donkeys, while the Almighty God is planning the outcomes behind the scenes. I guess another way to state this, is to quote Proverbs 16:9, “The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps.” Can I paraphrase this to say, “in his heart a man sets out looking for donkeys, but the Lord is the one who holds the outcomes and the deeper purpose”?