Who controls the roadmap?

As I write this, the country waits with bated breath for BoJo to make his big announcement regarding the ongoing COVID-19 lockdown. There are rumours of schools going back, families being given permission to visit each other again and some businesses re-opening. All of this waits to be seen of course. We all remember the promises about Christmas not being cancelled when, just days before the holidays, they welched on what they said. Whilst hope springs eternal, I suspect many are not expecting great things.

Nevertheless, whatever is announced, we are being promised a ‘roadmap out of lockdown’. Whether that is one with hard dates on it, who knows! I suspect it will be something closer to an ‘if this, then that’ scenario. If X number of people have been vaccinated by Y dates – and there is enough evidence that this has been effective (and early signs from Israel point in that direction) – then A, B and C things will result. Something like that.

Of course, despite the rhetoric and the promises, Boris Johnson doesn’t really know what the future holds. He (along with anybody else) can only plan based on the evidence they have before them, the best guess at what might happen under different scenarios, what appears effective from our limited vantage point and what people are liable to wear without taking to the streets (or just blithely ignoring altogether, more likely). Any roadmap is subject to revision. It’s more like Waze – delays being added to the roadmap based on whatever we happen to run into at any given time.

It is, once again, a good time to be reminded that the Lord is not caught out by such things. In his sovereignty, he holds any roadmap in his hand. As the old hymn says:

I know who holds the future, and he guides me with his hand,

With God things don’t just happen, everything by him is planned.

Alfred Smith

The virus did not catch him out. None of the lockdowns have taken him by surprise either. The route out of them is entirely in his hands too. Boris’s heart may plan his way, but the Lord establishes his steps. It seems worth remembering that.

I was speaking for another church yesterday evening and ran through (briefly) a theology of prayer from the book of James. The point that James makes over and over again is that we have access to a God who can, and does, change things in the world but we often don’t have because we don’t ask (or, we ask out of wrong motive). If these things are in the Lord’s hands (and they are) it strikes me as wise for us to pray, whether we have done so already or not, that the roadmap out would be clear and swift.

But whether that transpires or not, we can rest in the fact that it is nonetheless in the Lord’s hands. Believe it or not, he is somehow more glorified in what actually happens than in whatever we wish would happen, but ultimately doesn’t. If the universe redounds to the glory of God, and has been created to bring maximal glory to him – no matter what we might prefer – what actually happens is what most fully glorifies him in some way. That is not to say the specific thing is particularly glorifying, but that the thing serves his greater glory in some way – often ways we may not ever realise or see – that would not have happened if he averted the thing itself. All of which is to say, whatever happens in respect to the lockdown announcement, in his sovereignty, the Lord has ordained it to serve his glory more fully than had something else occurred.

I don’t know about you, but I find that particularly helpful to remember – especially when I don’t like the result.