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Stay In The Lines (How God Doesn’t Give Me Answers)

As I was watching ESPN several weeks ago I heard of the passing of Lavell Edwards. He was the head coach for the BYU football team from 1972-2000. Trevor Matich and Steve Young, both analysts for ESPN, who played for Edwards shared how they wouldn’t be the people they are today without LaVell Edwards.

When I heard this it peaked my interest. What made LaVell so exceptional?

Trevor Matich told a story of a few years ago when BYU opened their new football facility and hall of fame. He took his kids to see it. When they arrived he noticed other fathers who had played for LaVell with their children. The kids were so thrilled to see the trophies and awards, but Trevor said,

“It dawned on me at that point. It wasn’t about the trophy inside the case. It’s that father standing outside the case because wives have better husbands and children have better fathers because the way LaVell Edwards would mentor, not just guide you and steer you and make you go, but in a way, you found your own way, he just made sure you stayed in the lines.”

When I reflect on how God works in people’s lives it’s like what Trevor Matich said about LaVell Edwards, God helps you stay in the lines.

I used to believe that God would show me what to do next, or at least He would provide me with some “feeling” of a direction to move toward. I thought God had an exact plan. My job was to figure out what His plan was and then, once I found it, I must stay the course and not veer away from it.

I thought God created this plan before I was born. The question was, will I live into it?

The more I learn about God the more I believe God lets us find our own way. I’m not saying that God is absent or that He doesn’t care. God loves each one of us by letting us find our own way. God wants to make sure that I stay within the lines, that I’m going in the right direction, but I don’t assume God has a plan that is already set in motion. It’s not about either pursuing God’s plan or rebelling against it.

Prayer was the way I thought I would “feel” God communicate His plan to me that He designed so long ago. It was a recipe for success. Put some prayer and add in some faith and out will pop an answer from God. This was the way I would know the plan.

I quickly realized this didn’t work. It wasn’t that prayer didn’t work, it just didn’t work like a vending machine. The point of prayer isn’t to get what I want. What I came to understand was just because I prayed for something didn’t mean I would get it.

When prayer becomes, going through the right steps to get what we want, we miss the point. God becomes the one who gives us things, but this isn’t what prayer is about. This whole praying to God thing seems to be about walking together. It seems to be about attempting to figure out this whole life thing together.

I believe God has the ability to give me a direct answer from the heavens. He could answer every prayer every time, but in my experience, this isn’t how God works. God has acted more like what Trevor Matich said about LaVell Edwards, someone who is present. He doesn’t have a specific path in mind.

God’s like a good mother. He hands me a picture and helps me stay in the lines. If I start to go outside the lines He guides me gently back inside. When I fail God’s the first one there to pick me up, dust me off, and let me know everything is going to be okay.

As we both stand up from the mess that I’ve made, God looks me in the eyes and says, “I’m still here.” He continues, “What’s next?”

God never leaves. He’s there to help me stay in the lines as we walk this life thing out together figuring out what the next move will be.

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