A Son of Zebedee


When life doesn't go the way we plan or desire, what does do our reactions reveal about our view of God?

Jon, my son-in-law, is my wingman.

A wingman is the man who is covering your tail, an extra set of eyes guarding your vulnerabilities. The mission is effectively accomplished because of the teamwork between a pilot and his wingman.

I’m the pilot.

Our mission is to rescue the hearts of a group of men with the beauty, power and truth of the Gospel. The plan was for Jon to fly into Denver, from LA, early Wednesday morning to give the two of us a full day to connect, get caught up, go over our notes and run a few errands before we leave for Toronto at 5 AM the next morning. There was a lot to get done. Unfortunately Jon had to do the United Two Step… his flight was delayed several times, with different reasons/excuses given, and then finally cancelled. In a rare moment of customer awareness and competence, they finally got Jon on a flight, gave him a 1 oz. bag of nuts, a 4 oz. serving of diet Coke and landed the plane (with his luggage on it)! Excuse the cynicism… it’s hard being a frequent flyer these days! 

Our day has vanished, my plan sabotaged,  leaving me frazzled. I rush north to Denver International to pick up my wingman in one of those wouldn’t-it-be-nice-if-days-like-this-never-ever-happened godless moods.

Godless” in the sense that something in me is ranting and raving about life not unfolding in the comfortable, pain and hassle free manner I demand.

Demand” in the sense that all poor reactions have at their root, core beliefs about God’s goodness and what brings life. My reaction, like the “idiot” light on the car dashboard, indicates some governing world-view is being thwarted/challenged. (Note James 4)

A good time to take an inside look is when life turns unpleasant. In such times, we become one of the Sons of Zebedee who approach Christ with the demand, “I want You to do for me whatever I ask of You.” (Mark 10:35).

I wanted this day with Jon to go a “certain way” so that… this conference with Jon would go a “certain way,” and that when the mission is over I’d feel a “certain way” about the conference, myself and life in general. “Jesus I expect you to do for me whatever I ask…”

As I drove, I was aware that all is not well internally. I put in a prayer CD, which is a recording of John Eldredge praying the prayer that many of us pray on a daily basis (It’ll change your prayer life). I’ll often meditate on the words as I’m driving around, pausing it at different points to linger with my own prayers and reflections. Fourteen seconds into the prayer, there’s an acknowledgment of God being sovereign. I stop the CD and allow the idea of God being over all, in control. The sovereign God counters the sense I have that all of life is chaotic and fully out of control… that this mission is a mistake and so am I.

It was great. I traversed into a reflective spell pondering the overwhelming reality that it was God who put this entire trip together: it was God prompting Tom, our Canadian host to invite me, his suggesting that I bring a wingman, God suggesting Jon as my wingman… that God is going before us preparing the men for whatever unfolds… that He, God, would use this mission for some purpose in our lives! 

And the question surfaced was, “Given God’s sovereignty, what could happen that we couldn't handle?”

Lose my notes!? 
“It would be a relief… finally loosed from my dependence upon them, I would be free to share my unanchored heart/soul.”

We miss a flight!?
 “That’s simple… it’s an act of God for which we have no control, and actually might be fun.”

Jon and I are somehow separated!? 
“Yeah and so? We’d make it together eventually, and if not? What a story to tell in the years ahead!

We crash and die!?
 “Lori’s rich, I’m in heaven… what could I have done?”

We crash and don’t die!?
 “What a story to tell in the years ahead!”

The men hate me!?
 “Hey, I’m just the messenger.”

The men love me, hoist me on their shoulders and worship me as some god!?
“What a story to tell for years and years… and years”

It’s at this moment I find myself veering off the interstate and mistakenly onto a highway headed the opposite direction.

I’m thrown out of my meditative state now facing a circuitous detour and tardy arrival with even less time to get everything done! Immediately, I respond will a variety of “French” expressions.

Then another question rises and quickly tempers my reaction… “If God is sovereign, is it appropriate to be profane when you make a wrong exit while musing about his control over all things?”

I crack up. How quickly my response to disruptive undesired circumstances reveals my governing beliefs about his sovereignty!

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