Using the wrong doors – When God doesn’t do things the way we expected

Some adverts are better than others. The ones that are truly great (and the ones that truly aren’t) tend to stick with us. Take the “Moonpig” adverts. Most of us could cheerfully take the composer of that jingle to a quiet place and put him out of our misery. Or “Go compare”. That opera singer? Yes, he will be the first against the wall when the revolution comes.

But the greats are, if anything, even more memorable. Whether our not you want to be with prudential, I’m sure we’ve all wanted to be, at different times in our lives, Colonel Mustard, indoors, a tomato and TOGETHER.

And then there’s famous one with the tantrum in the supermarket. (If you’re not British, basically mum sees small child is about to have a tantrum, so she throws one first.) Oh that I had the guts to do that just once! Maybe one day I will, but the problem is the general unpredictably of the arrival of tantrums.

Take for example a little incident with Dominic when we were on holiday at Christmas. We had had a very long and tiring day, and were on the bus back to uncle Domingo’s house, where we were staying.It was a bendy bus, and it had been quite full when we’d boarded, so we’d split up to find seats. Dominic and I were sat at the front, and Mónica was with the other two, further back.Dominic was so tired that he’d fallen asleep, and I had to wake him up when it was time to get off. Simples (as they say in yet another advert)

As you might expect, Dominic and I alighted through the front doors, and the rest of the clan through the middle doors. But as Dominic saw mummy getting off through a different door, something snapped, and he screamed as if his world had ended. NO-OOOOOOOO! He clearly thought different doors meant we were going to different places But seeing mummy standing outside waiting for him two seconds later didn’t seem to make any difference. He carried on screaming and sobbing uncontrollably for a good ten minutes.

As God’s toddler, I can’t stop myself asking how much like Dominic I am. Don’t get me wrong, I am a big boy, and I can assure you that I am largely unconcerned about which bus door the spirit leads me to exit through.

But even when, like Dominic, I can see that the outcome of a situation is fine, it is possible I may throw the occasional tantrum when God doesn’t arrive at the outcome the way I expect him to. Or, to return to the metaphor, by going through the door I expected.

So here’s a concrete challenge for me. Over the next few weeks, the detail of the new structure of my department is being hammered out. It is likely that I will still have a job. It is even possible that it will be the one I want. But who knows? What is certain is that, whatever the outcome, God will be waiting to take me forward at the other side. So, if he doesn’t do things the way I hope, will I focus on God’s long term view of “outcome” ?

Or will I scream that God has taken me off the bus through the wrong door?

© 2011 Paul Brownnutt

[Originally Published 14th February 2011]