A short time ago, the place where my family and I fellowship moved to a different location. The city owned the property we had been using and the city had decided to sell it to a developer. I hope it becomes something awesome. This meant that the fellowship had to find a new place to meet. So we did. The change in venue meant paring back some of the ministries and one of those parings meant that the youth met in a consolidated whole. Not catastrophic, as there are not so many youth in the fellowship as to make meeting that way prohibitive. For various reasons, I felt that I should step down from overseeing the portion of the youth I was over at the time and did so. Not long after, a new overseer for that portion of the youth was appointed. My pride (and we all have pride) was wounded, but my reason and my spirit both understood that it was both necessary that I step down (I don’t have the bandwidth to do right by the youth at this time in my life) and that someone else be raised up. Many verses like this one were given to me by God in the days and weeks following the raising up of the new overseer to remind me that the whole thing is His doing.
But this verse (and others like it) goes further than what happens within a fellowship. This verse does not limit the scope of God’s raising up and putting down. The verse says simply that God is the Judge. Not a judge. The Judge. The final decision for every decision rests with Him. Who gets elected to the HOA board? God decides. Someone is promoted at work? God promoted them. I could belabor the point, but it is sufficient to be reminded that every raising up and every putting down is — regardless of what humanity thinks — determined by God and for reasons that I would not understand if God told them to me. It would be similar to asking a chess grand master to explain her strategy to me. While I know the basic rules of chess and can play a game, the grand master is on different level entirely. I’m considering my next move. She’s considering her next five games. In my mind, I can still change the way the game will play out. In her mind, I’m already beaten … and she’s right. Something analogous goes on with God and me. I understand the very fringes of what He’s up to while He has determined the course of human history from its beginning to eternity future. Thus, every promotion or demotion is determined by God and has been determined by Him since before He said Let there be light.
This is all well and good, but it doesn’t seem immediately applicable. Except that it is. The shuffling around at work? God’s hands are the ones doing the shuffling. The election that put yet another person who makes me question the sanity of my fellow voters into office? God planned for that. The person who was raised up into some new position of authority or oversight within the fellowship? God’s doing as well. Likewise, if I am asked to step away from responsibilities that had been put on my plate (as has been the case rather often in quite a few different arenas of my life recently), that, too, is God’s doing and part of His plan. If it seems that I am being given more responsibility and that I am rising, it is God Who is doing it. If my plate seems to me less full than it was not long ago, then God has removed things from it. Rise and fall, ebb and flow, all the things that come my way do so from the hand of God. He has judged those things right for me and I will accept them as He has judged them.