We all like to have things our way. It’s a natural and normal thing that comes with being human. It’s not necessarily the best, safest, or healthiest thing for us. God has a better way. His way. But sometimes people just can’t tell us differently or convince us otherwise: our way is the best way! It’s this stubborn, inextinguishable belief that’s a huge part of the reason why we like having our way.

As you know full well by now,  things don’t always go the way we planned. It’s a real downer and a source of frustration, disappointment, anger, and tears. But that’s life. And we find a way to go on.

But when things don’t pan out the way God said they would, then that becomes a really really difficult thing for me. I’m a believer. I take God at His Word. When He makes me a promise and I take Him up on that promise, I fully expect Him to do what He said He would do. And when He doesn’t, I go through a serious time of reflection and questioning. Is God’s Word true or not? Of course it is, silly! Then why didn’t it work?

I like to have answers. Sometimes, the answers are easy. Sometimes hard to fathom or digest. Sometimes there aren’t any answers. At least, not right now. Maybe down the road. Maybe never. But whether I understand the reasons or not, I’m still a believer. God expects me to continue believing Him. Continue serving Him. Continue praising Him. And since I’m a preacher, God expects me to continue preaching the Word of truth and life.

I’m constantly amazed by how practical and relevant the Bible is to us in our day. As an example, here’s what I learned from the Scriptures when things didn’t pan out the way I thought they would.


When things don’t go the way they should—at least, the way God said they would; the easiest and readiest thing to do is point a finger or fist at God and blame Him for the mess. Non-Christians are especially vociferous and vile, blaming God, whenever tragedy strikes. Some of us mouth off everytime we don’t get our way. Poor God!  He gets blamed for a lot of things!

I used to blame God in my younger days as a Christian. But the more I read the Bible and got acquainted with God the more I came to a point where I realized that A RIGHTEOUS, SINLESS GOD COULD DO NO WRONG. IT’S IMPOSSIBLE FOR GOD TO BE WRONG AND TO DO WRONG!  

  • Psalm 145:17 puts it this way, The Lord is righteous in all His ways and kind in all His works.
  • Daniel 9:14 says essentially the same thing: Our God is righteous in all the works that He has done.  
  • Deuteronomy 32:4 echoes the refrain: He is the Rock, his works are perfect, and all his ways are just. A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is he.

There’ve been times when it sure looked like God was wrong. He messed up. He was unfaithful. But we will never, not ever, prove God and His Bible wrong! NO MATTER WHAT GOD DOES OR ALLOWS, HE’S ALWAYS RIGHT AND RIGHTEOUS. HE’S NEVER WRONG. HE NEVER MAKES A MISTAKE. HE NEVER MESSES UP—even when we think He did. Even when it looks like He did.

So if God isn’t to blame, who is? I hate to say it, and you’re not gonna like me for saying it, but sometimes—not all the time thankfully, but nevertheless sometimes—we’re the reason why things didn’t pan out the way they were supposed do. We messed up. THINGS GO WRONG WHEN WE’RE WRONG.

We don’t always know it. At least, not right away. Sometimes we refuse to admit guilt, blame, or responsibility. Sometimes we’re willfully blind, self-deceived, and engaged in a cover-up or denial. And at other times, we’re ignorantly blind: we just don’t see the true nature of things. In either case, when we don’t see, we need the Lord to open our eyes, our heart, and mind, to see where we went wrong.


Let me put this train of thought on hold and talk to you a little bit about myself. I love to garden. I get a tremendous satisfaction in planting a seed and nurturing it so that it gives me the veggies that I’m chomping at the bit to eat or can. It’s a lot of work, sweat, and time. But I get a lot of satisfaction doing the work.

It’s springtime here in the American Midwest and weeds are cropping up everywhere in my garden. I till the open spaces of the garden. But in the asparagus bed, as also in the strawberry and raspberry patch, I get on my hands and knees and pull each weed out. I’ve been that way about weeds ever since I was a young boy on Guam. I like pulling them out instead of cutting them down or hoeing. By pulling the roots out I get fewer and fewer weeds that way.

When we leave the roots in the ground there’s a good chance the weed will come back, sprout up, and grow again. That’s just the way it is.

This reminds me of the parable of the soils in Matthew 13. Some areas of the holy land were really fertile and lush. Others, rocky. And others, overrun with brambles, briars, and thistles. Like many of us today, farmers back then would cut these thorny brushes down, burn them in the field, then plant the seed. But as the seed was growing, guess what happened. The thorns’ roots that were left in the ground came back with a vengeance . They sprouted so many new thorny brushes that they choked out the good seed and the farmer never got a harvest.

Do you see what happened here? The soil was, from all outward appearances, cleared of thorny brushes. But underneath the soil, the thorny brushes’ roots were still there. They were still alive. And as long as these roots were alive, so was the problem.

Much like thorny brushes, in many of us there are underground roots that not many people see. These are the hidden loves, affections, lusts, and desires that we secretly long after and do unseen in the privacy of our house or room. If we don’t deal with these roots, if we don’t get them out of our heart, they’ll end up growing and killing us spiritually. They’ll render us spiritually barren or fruitless. Like the farmer, the spiritual harvest and bounty that we’re expecting just doesn’t pan out.  It doesn’t happen as promised. Why is that? Because the secret loves that we allow to remain in our heart will grow and keep us from bearing and enjoying the fruit. Left alive in our heart, our lusts will kill us someday. It’s only a matter of time.

So what’s the solution? You’ve got to deal with the root of the problem. You’ve got to get sin out of your heart and mind. As long as you leave it there and nurture it, they’ll keep the good seed of the Word from taking root in your heart, growing, and bringing forth the good fruit of change and righteousness in you.

When things don’t pan out the way God’s Seed said it would, when the fruit of the Seed is lacking; it’s not because God’s Seed isn’t any good. It’s not because it doesn’t work. The Seed does work. Just  not in thorny hearts or minds. Beloved, if you want good fruit, good results, God-promised results; you’ve got to get to the root of your problem. As long as the root’s alive, so is your problem. That’s one reason why things don’t pan out the way we’d like.


We all have a tendency to blame other people when things go wrong or when bad things happen. To be sure, there are indeed times when other people are to blame. People make mistakes. And when they do they need to assume responsibility for their decisions and actions, accept the blame, and work to clean up the mess they’ve made. Not everything, I repeat, not everything is our fault!

But when we’re the leading characters in a tragedy, when we’re at the helm of a sinking ship; then passing the buck just isn’t cool. It doesn’t make us look good. We can find creative ways to look at an error or a disaster and make a scapegoat of others. But people aren’t dumb. They can smell a skunk when they see one. And they don’t have to be a rocket scientist to know who shot who when they catch us with a smoking gun in our hand.

In the anger and panic of the moment we seldom take the time to look at ourself and see if we bear any blame for the nightmare that we’re faced with. We’re so busy blaming others because it makes us look good. It makes us look innocent. But are we?

In these series of posts I’d like to step into the sandals of several Biblical characters. They were human like you and me. You can be dead sure they passed the buck, or were tempted to do so, when they found themselves in hot water.

By looking at these familiar Biblical figures I’m hoping we’ll learn from the mistakes and examples of our forebears. I hope we’ll learn not to pass the buck, but accept the guilt and blame that are rightfully ours. 

Why is that so important? Because assuming responsibility for our actions is the necessary first step towards fixing the mess we’ve made. We can’t fix something that we’re not willing to fess and face up to. It begins with summoning the courage to be honest with ourselves, with others, and with God. With the help of the Biblical characters, I believe we can be honest and say, God, it’s not your fault! It’s mine. And I’m sorry I fingered you for the bed that I made and slept in.


Hello. My name is David, King of Israel. I’d like to tell you about a time in my life when I was really ticked off at God. Through an unfortunate series of events, our enemies, the Philistines, captured the sacred Ark of the Covenant in battle (1 Samuel 4).

Well, it turned out, after seven months of nothing but misfortunes, the Philistines put two and two together and decided that the Ark was bad luck for them. So they put the Ark on an ox cart and sent it back to Israel (1 Samuel 5 and 6).

The Ark stayed in an Israelite village called Bethshemesh. But, there again, bad luck fell upon the townsfolk after some of them decided to take a peek into the Ark. This was something that you just couldn’t do. The Lord ended up killing over 50,000 men in that town because of this unfortunate peekaboo (1 Samuel 6). 50,000!

As you would expect, the Bethshemeshites got the holy fear of God. They didn’t want the Ark in their midst. They couldn’t afford to have any more of their menfolk dying because of the Ark. So they sent a message to their neighbors and the men of Kirjathjearim came and got the Ark. They put it in Abinadab’s house and there it remained for twenty years (1 Samuel 7).

Well, it didn’t seem right to me that a national treasure should be tucked away in someone’s house. It needed to be brought to Jerusalem, our capital city. So preparations were made for the move and on the appointed day, the Ark was brought forth out of Abinadab’s house, placed on an ox cart, and away we went. There was a huge procession of Israelites as we celebrated this momentous event. There was a band and music and dancing. We were in a really celebratory mood that day. You can read all about it in 2 Samuel 6.

Unfortunately, the merriment was cut short soon enough. As the ox cart was moving along, one of the wheels went over a huge rock. One of the drivers, a man by the name of Uzzah, saw the Ark starting to slide off the cart. So he stretched forth his hand to keep the Ark in place and that’s when the Ark’s infamous bad luck struck again. The Lord struck Uzzah dead right there on the spot!

In an instant, from the mirth and merriment of the moment, I was ticked! I was incensed! Uzzah had done a good thing. He was trying to keep the Ark from falling off the cart. He was doing his part to preserve a national treasure. He acted nobly with the best of intentions. I couldn’t understand why God would kill Uzzah for doing such a good deed.

For days after that, I was really riled up at God. It looked as if everywhere the Ark went nothing but bad luck happened to people around it. God, this is all your fault! You had no right killing Uzzah for doing a good deed!

It seemed to me that no one was safe around the Ark. Not even God’s chosen people! God was gonna kill everyone who dared to tamper with the Ark. So I left the Ark right then and there in the house of a fellow by the name of Obededom. I went back to Jerusalem, along with all the celebrants, downcast and afraid to have anything more to do with the Ark.

I was still fuming with God for some time after that until the priests and the Lord started talking to me. Come to find out, it wasn’t God’s fault that Uzzah got killed. Yeah, he was acting with the best of intentions. But THE BEST OF INTENTIONS DON’T AMOUNT TO MUCH WHEN YOU BREAK THE RULES. The rule was, no one was allowed to touch the Ark, plain and simple.

The Ark wasn’t supposed to be transported on a cart. It was carried about on the shoulders of the Kohathites. They were descendants of one of Levi’s sons named Kohath. Anyway, God chose the Kohathites to be the only ones authorized to pack, unpack, and transport the contents of the Holy Place, which is our Tabernacle. But even the Kohathites themselves couldn’t touch the Ark! There were rings in the Ark through which long wooden poles would be inserted. The Kohathites would grab each end of the poles and lift them up on their shoulders. That’s how the Lord ordained the Ark to be transported—on the shoulders of the Kohathites and not on an ox cart (see Numbers 4:1-15).

The Lord’s instructions for the transporting of the Ark were contained in the Book of the Law and they hit me like a ton of bricks. Here all along I was blaming God for killing kind-hearted Uzzah. But it wasn’t God’s fault that Uzzah was killed. It was mine! I was to blame because I was the one who ordered the Ark to be put on an ox cart. I had unknowingly violated God’s Law and Uzzah paid for it with his life. So when the dust of my anger settled and reason returned to my mind, I had to admit that Uzzah’s death wasn’t God’s fault. It was mine…because I didn’t do things God’s way.

So take it from me, dear friends, and don’t make the mistake I made. DO THINGS GOD’S WAY. DO IT THE WAY HE WANTS IT DONE. You might think you know a better way; you have a better idea of how things ought to be done. They may sound good and right to you (Proverbs 14:12, 21:2). But if your ideas don’t line up with God’s ideas, then, believe me, you’re all wet and wrong. God’s way is the only way to do things! So don’t listen to Frankie boy, the ole crooner with baby blues. And don’t let the burger joint fool you into thinking it’s alright for you to have it your way. It’s not. Uzzah’s death stands as an eternal, painful reminder to me that THERE’S A PRICE TO BE PAID FOR DOING THINGS YOUR WAY INSTEAD OF GOD’S WAY. I hope there won’t be an Uzzah in your life to remind you of the same.