The light was perfect on the little lake as I set up my camera. Then it started to rain. I muttered under my breath that everything seemed to be working against me that day.
Recently I heard someone say, “It feels like everything is conspiring against me.”
This past week I read dozens of social media posts from people who fear conspiracy in government, health, education, media, food production, even sports. I began to think about the word conspire.
Originally conspire meant to come into agreement, to breathe as one. Now it nearly always has a negative connotation. Now it involves people getting together to plan harm. An entire field of study on conspiracy theories has statistically-oriented people holed up in their academic cells pounding out dissertations on the subject at this very moment. Why do we reject legitimate warnings? Why do we believe far-fetched conjectures? Why does the motive of conspirators always seem to be to bring people down or control them?
Our son and daughter-in-law conspired to give their children something good. That summer, after snowmelt and unprecedented rain combined to flood their town, the kids watched as most of their possessions and big chunks of their home were tossed in a dumpster or piled on the street for large machinery to scoop up and haul away. Their Dad not only spent many hours working on his own home, but dedicated many more to shoveling muddy sewage out of other people’s homes and helping with a thousand other urgent matters as he was pastor of a church that owned one of the few public buildings in town that remained mostly dry.
Their parents told them that someone they knew was going on a trip to Disneyland and that they were driving to the airport to bring them their luggage. On the way their young son became sullen. As they pulled into the parking lot he could no longer contain himself.
“It’s not fair! Everybody else gets to do neat things! You always look after people and do good things for them like driving their suitcases to the airport, but a pastor doesn’t get to take his family on vacation. I hate your job!”
His parents quietly gave him a suitcase to pull to the terminal. Inside the door was a glass-covered poster advertising the thrill of Disneyland.
“Oh, look! There’s the family that is going on the trip!” Dad said, pointing to the display. Our granddaughter said she saw no family in the poster. Then she saw their own reflection in the glass. Her jaw dropped and she started jumping up and down in excitement. Our grandson refused to look. He didn’t get it. He was mad. It wasn’t until he was strapped in his seat on the plane that he accepted that it was his own family going on vacation and he broke out in a wide smile. He knew his parents had no money for a trip. It was just too hard for him to believe someone would give their family such a generous gift. He had to adjust to the idea of goodness and grace.
Sometimes conspiracies for good are about the joy of surprise. Sometimes they are for protection. We don’t tell children about events too soon in case plans change, or because they can’t understand timing. It’s not always wise to go public with business plans until everything is in place, lest the competition be given a heads-up. Sometimes people will make assumptions that steer their own preparations in the wrong direction if they know too much too soon.
We are actively trying to find the best living arrangement we can for my husband’s elderly mother. There is so much red tape and dealing with agencies who don’t seem to communicate with each other. And waiting. Waiting for appointments. Waiting for reports. Waiting for vacancies. Because her increasing memory problems make this process so confusing to her we have elected not to tell her the details. She knows we are doing something “behind her back.” Like our grandson looking resentfully at the luggage in the car, it is hard for her to believe we are not all in cahoots conspiring against her. It’s frustrating, and frankly somewhat painful. Her sons are both men of outstanding character who may be two of the most responsible, reliable, honest (to a fault) people on the planet. Sadly the disease has stolen that fact. She can’t remember who is trustworthy and who is not.
The Lord reminded me that I also have a tendency to assume he is conspiring against us.
“When, Lord?” I asked.
“When you complain that situations are hopeless, when you whine that answers take too long, when you blame me for messes of your own making but don’t ask me for help. You accuse me of conspiring against you when you forget my character and that I am good.”
Here’s the thing: if we believe the lie that our heavenly Father is an angry, controlling, megalomaniac in the sky who demands that we love him or he will make our lives a living hell, we will see all his plans as conspiracies of harsh punishment against us. If we remember his past goodness to us and his faithful loving character shown through Jesus Christ, who gave his life for us, we will see his plans as conspiracies of goodness – conspiracies for us.
One night I heard in a dream, “If I tell you where I am going with this it will remove the element of faith.”
Sometimes God doesn’t tell us all the details of his plans, for his own very good reasons. Sometimes he is giving us an entire renovation and all we see is our precious old stuff landing in the dumpster. Sometimes all we see is that everybody else is getting a trip to Disneyland. Sometimes all we see is one darn heavy suitcase after another that we have to carry for somebody else when he is giving us weight-lifting exercises so we will be prepared and strong enough to walk in a higher level of faith and authority.
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit always breathe together in perfect unity. They are conspiring – for our good.
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. (Jeremiah 29:11)
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28)