It is said that the greatest chess players “see” at least 4 moves ahead at all times. This is why they can anticipate their opponents’ moves and be ready for them.
This is also a huge advantage in military strategy. The best generals know their adversary so well that they can anticipate the moves of their adversary and then plan for a counter strategy. In fact, it has been said that the only way to truly overcome your enemies is to know them so well you come to love them, and then they are no longer a threat, but an asset to you!
But most of us simply don’t think that far ahead in our lives. We clutter our moments with as much noise as possible in an attempt to drown out the silence that makes us uncomfortable. This need for constant stimulation, for constant input, for constant noise, speaks more to an addiction than it does to real attempts at productivity. What are we afraid of in the silence and stillness of a moment? Why do we struggle with the feelings of disease when there is a lag in a conversation? What drives us to fill every moment with “something” so we won’t be “bored?”
No wonder we question God’s timing, His motives, His wisdom, when life throws us the curves it always seems to throw, and always at the most inopportune times! We seem to never take the time to think long term, to see the real “end game” ahead of us, and to be wise in planning how to counter the distractions, the detours, and the temptations to leave the proper path for our lives. We constantly miss the signals of both danger and opportunity, but God never does. He sees the end from the beginning.
In our Scripture Lesson today we see another example of God knowing the dangers of the future and taking action to help mitigate the spiritual sickness of humanity. The trouble is when we see Him act to counter the darkness in men’s hearts, we miss the motives and only see the temporary challenges. It almost looks like God doesn’t want man to succeed. But we’re missing the big picture here.
Look at Genesis 10:32-11:9:
These are the families of the sons of Noah, according to their genealogies, in their nations; and from these the nations spread abroad on the earth after the flood. Now the whole earth had one language and few words. And as men migrated from the east, they found a plain in the land of Shinar and settled there. And they said to one another, “Come, let us make bricks, and burn them thoroughly.” And they had brick for stone, and bitumen for mortar. Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth.” And the LORD came down to see the city and the tower, which the sons of men had built. And the LORD said, “Behold, they are one people, and they have all one language; and this is only the beginning of what they will do; and nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them. Come, let us go down, and there confuse their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech.” So the LORD scattered them abroad from there over the face of all the earth, and they left off building the city. Therefore its name was called Babel, because there the LORD confused the language of all the earth; and from there the LORD scattered them abroad over the face of all the earth.
Here we read the story of the Tower of Babel. The Flood is past. The generations of Noah’s family are obeying God’s command and multiplying on the earth. And they are ingenious people. They learn skills, crafts, engineering, and ambition. And they gather together to pool their resources to build a city with a tower that reaches the heavens! God sees that humanity still retains the spark of divinity built into the image of God in every person. He sees they are instinctively desiring to be like their Creator and build, create, and achieve. But they are still enfeebled by their broken relationship with God and this poisons even their best intentions with the danger of self-centeredness and lack of love for their neighbor. But their abilities are God-given, so they will achieve their ambitions; that is, unless Someone intervenes to protect them from themselves.
So God does. He confuses their common language and they no longer have the ability to communicate. This stops them in their tracks and they are forced to abandon the project. So the tower is called “Babel” because they stopped being able to understand one another. Of course, this sad necessity will be reversed at the Day of Pentecost after God had accomplished all that was necessary to heal mankind’s deepest wound by Christ’s death and resurrection. When God gives humanity His Spirit, the effects of the Tower of Babel are reversed!
Today, a fundamental issue in anyone’s spiritual maturity is the growth of confidence in God’s love and wisdom for our lives. We simply always give God the benefit of the doubt even though we can’t “see” as far down our path as He can. Even when it is confusing as to why He has acted as He has, we simply admit the dual and honest realities of “I don’t understand why this is happening” AND “But I do believe He loves me and knows what’s best for my life.” In that honest and confident faith, we trust that the Lord is guiding us toward Himself, which is what we want more than anything.
And that, my dearest, is the key. If I want Him more than even I want “happiness” and “comfort” and “ease” then I’ll be happy and comfortable and at ease no matter what life throws my way.
So, are exercising your faith so that you can build your confidence in God’s plans for your life? The spiritual disciplines of our Orthodox faith stretch and build spiritual “muscle” so that when life is most confusing you have the strength to stay faithful. The regular practice of worship, prayer, fasting, and giving build your intimacy with God so that, knowing Him well, your confidence in Him isn’t weak and easily shaken by the troubles of life.
Today, God sees the End from the Beginning of your life and all our lives. He has countered every move made against your ultimate well being and He is now asking you to trust Him as He guides your life through the wisdom of the Faith. Each day you are confronted with the choice to keep saying “yes” to His insights and plans for you or you react with short sighted fear and take control yourself. Today, make the choice to trust Him. And then build your faith so that saying “yes” not only becomes easier, but automatic! That’s the path to being Orthodox on Purpose!