Friday, June 25, 2010
Today’s Topic: Directions, Decisions, and Details
Today’s Text: Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?”And I said, “Here am I. Send me!” (Isaiah 6:8)
Details. We want details. We make decisions based on details. The more details we have, the better our chances of avoiding error, or so we think. We rarely accept any direction without details. Direction, decisions, and details – how are they supposed to line up?
Have you ever heard the phrase, the devil is in the details? Well, for all you detail-oriented people, here’s a little history lesson. The Random House Dictionary of Popular Proverbs and Sayings by Gregory Y. Titelman (Random House, New York, 1996) says The Devil is in the details is a variant of another proverb that is much older. It refers to a catch or problem hidden in the details that was not previously seen or anticipated, and that may have changed the original decision if it had been known in advance. In other words, the devil is responsible for withholding information to make us fail. In response, we want more details so we can be sure to make the right decision.
But to be historically accurate, the original proverb from which the devil reference evolved is this – God is in the details. In fact, the original proverb is more than 140 years older than its derivation. It was first attributed to a German architect named Gustave Flaubert (1821-80). History tells us that those who lived by this motto believed that whatever one does should be done thoroughly with close attention to the details because that’s how God is honored.
But let me share one more idea I have on the subject of details – my variation on the theme. God is in control of the details. Our tendency is to demand details before we make decisions when God is the one giving the directions. I believe the devil is in that. Isaiah heard the directions, made the decision, and then got the details. We would be wise to follow such an example of faith.
Recently I visited with a friend who has been struggling in his job for several years. He has been very discouraged. His age was one factor that kept him going because there was a certain measure of fear of what he would be able to do to be a provider for his wife if he quit. But things were not going well at work. He and his wife had a discussion about it and agreed that God was giving them the direction to quit and that he would provide for them. So, in the middle of the week, they made a decision with no details. The following Monday he would resign, giving his two week notice.
God is in control of the details. Two days later, on Friday, he was called into the supervisor’s office and told that his position with company was being eliminated. He was escorted back to his desk to gather his lunchbox and then escorted out of the building. There would be no need to resign on Monday. He had been let go. But in doing so, this 23-year veteran of this company was granted a severance package. He would be paid in full for the next two weeks, even though he would not be permitted back into the building to work. He would then receive a nice severance package of pay for an extended period of time. At the conclusion of that severance package, he will be eligible for unemployment compensation. None of these things would have been his if he would have resigned. All of these things allow him the time to receive the details from God of what’s next.
God is in control of the details. When God gives directions, we must make decisions, trusting that He is in control of the details. Directions…Decisions…Details. If that order ever gets messed up, so do we.