Restaurant: Impossible [Life: Impossible]

POST FROM THE PAST…written on June 9, 2012, and hidden away on a document until now. 

On the rare occasions my sister and I have the chance to watch television together we turn to The Food Network.  Among our favorite shows are Chopped, Iron Chef America, and Restaurant: Impossible.  In this last one, a successful, famous chef visits a failing restaurant, and, with only ten thousand dollars, revamps it in two or three days, reopening with a new look, new menu, new procedures.

On a show we watched last weekend, the dining room was completely destroyed – old-fashioned, uncomfortable benches torn apart and shelves yanked off walls.  The owners watched with pained expressions – they had built those booths and shelves with care, designing their restaurant in a way they thought attractive, useful, and customer-friendly.  But guess what?  The restaurant was failing big-time.

As the chef and his team quickly dismantled the dining room, one of the owners commented, “I guess sometimes you’ve gotta break something before you can fix it.” 

His words shot like an arrow to the bulls-eye of my heart, compelling me to examine things in a new way.

Perhaps my life is like that restaurant.  For years I have worked to build into my life things that I consider attractive, useful, and glorifying to God.  Two years ago, all seemed to be going okay, even wonderfully.  But of course, the Christian life isn’t like a restaurant, where success is measured by dinners served or tickets rung through the register.  Our success is not based on external appearances or results, but only by God, who sees our hearts, and the big picture.

So perhaps, despite appearances, my life was failing.  Or perhaps it wasn’t glorifying God in the way He desired.  Or perhaps it was catering to the wrong crowd.  Whatever the case, God stepped in.  He started tearing things apart – dreams, ministry career plans, health, security, relationships.  And I watched, with tears and questions and frustration, flinching at the pain of destruction.

But you want to know something wonderful about God?  He doesn’t destroy for the sake of destruction.  He doesn’t hurt us for the purpose of causing pain.  God destroys in order to build something more beautiful someday.  He allows hurt to bring about His healing.

Today, these words are easy to write.  But yesterday, they were not easy to live out.  Tomorrow it may be a struggle even to believe them.  Since the “life remodeling” began, I must confess that I have often resisted God’s work.  He tears apart another booth as I protest, “But God!  I built that myself!  It looked pretty good.  Do you really have something better to put in that empty space?”

Reading that last question, I wince at the arrogance.  Who am I to tell God how to handle things?  Who am I to ask if He knows what He is doing and if His plans are good?  Surrendering control of my life to Him years ago means He is in charge – the Owner and Manager.

There may be more breaking ahead.  Do I look forward to it?  Honestly, no.  However, if God thinks something in me (or even my whole life-restaurant) needs fixing, that’s His call.

And “I guess sometimes [God’s] gotta break some[one] before [He] can fix [them].” 

How about you?  Is God the Owner and Manager of your life?  Do you trust that He knows what He is doing, and that what might seem like unwarranted pain and destruction is part of His good plan?  Are you confident that even though the result might not look like what you imagined, God wants to make your life a success by Kingdom standards, for His glory?

Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.  Philippians 1:6

…being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will: That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ.  Ephesians 1:11b, 12

Before God can use a man greatly He must wound him deeply.  Oswald Chambers

When God is in charge of our lives, we can be certain that

  • His work is good.
  • He will finish what He started.
  • The outcome will be gloriously better than anything we could do on our own.

The impossible turned into reality.  Transformation.  Newness of life.  Glory.

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