Watching “NCIS: Los Angeles” the other night helped me finally understand why I get impatient with God’s plans for my life. I keep losing sight of basic principles that the TV actors follow well.
The whole thing began earlier that day when I was reading Luke 5. For thirty years, Jesus had been waiting and preparing to do what he came to earth to do. Then…boom! He was suddenly off and running.
John baptized him. Then Jesus spent 40 days in the wilderness fighting off everything Satan could throw at him. He performed miracles right and left, healed people, delivered great sermons like the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7), picked his crew of disciples, and, just as quickly, began to draw fire from the authorities for shaking up the status quo.
Thirty years of preparation. Three years of ministry. Through it all, Jesus knew his mission: “I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God…because that is why I was sent.” (Luke 4:43 NIV)
Where he went, how long he stayed in each town, how much time he devoted to teaching vs. healing–all of it was measured against his main mission, dictated by his heavenly Father: to spread the good news of the gospel. Whenever he felt pressed by competing demands, he would slip off by himself and pray until his priorities were re-aligned with his Father’s. Then he would jump back into fray.
I’m not that patient…or focused. I sometimes bristle at the discipline required and the uncertainties involved in a life spent under God’s direction. However, watching the NCIS team visually demonstrated the value of doing it God’s way.
On the TV show, we know only bits and pieces of each team member’s backstory. (Details are trickled out over the season to keep viewers engaged.) But everyone knows–including viewers–that each team member was picked for a reason, to be where they are, doing what they are doing.
Each team member knows his or her strengths. They know they can’t do their job alone. They spend time with other team members committed to the same cause. They spend time in the gym, keeping their skills sharp so they’re always ready for their next assignment. And they know who is boss.
When they committed to defending the United States through covert operations (with the fictional counterpart of the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, Office of Special Projects), their mission was settled and their assignments were selected by their boss to support that mission. Their job was to be available for deployment, however and whenever needed.
God can use even a TV show to make his point.
What if, like Jesus, God placed you in training for 30 years and you weren’t on anyone’s grid until late in the game? Are you willing to devote yourself to growing in your gifts and talents, maintaining practices of prayer, Bible study, and fellowship with other believers–always ready for his next assignment? Is he the boss or do you insist on picking your own assignments?
When we sign on as believers and choose to accept adoption into God’s family and becoming part of his amazing plans for planet earth, we commit to his mission, not ours. Our assignments throughout life can vary dramatically, although–unlike the TV show–he often gives us several options from which to choose. But we still face danger, disappointment, and frustration, just like those fictional special ops folks.
And, like the TV show, in God’s plan we’re not alone. He and fellow team members (other Christians) have our back, and God has unlimited resources he can deploy to accomplish his objectives.
Have you lost sight of your mission? Do you need to get away for a little time alone to re-align your life with God’s objectives? Is he free to change your assignment or have you been dictating what life has to look like, in order for you to be happy? In other words, who is the boss?
There’s still time to make course corrections. You don’t want to miss being part of the last episode when God springs The Big Finale.