John Farrell: How does God show up for us when we often don’t realize it until later?
Sam Collier: I would say that hindsight is 20/20. I think in the life of Job, but also in the life of Joseph, we see the two going through some things for the glory of God. We read their stories as they are journeying through all of the muck and the mire. And within the muck and the mire I imagine it was very difficult for them to see how that was showing up. But now for us, we can read the story.
We see how it’s gonna play out in real time. We see what’s coming. We see where God’s hand is on them. I think it’s important to remember that many of these books were written after it happened. And so they were able to discover and know the full story from the end, but they were at the end.
I think for us, again, it goes back to faith and it goes back to trust and it goes back to our ability to let God lead the way and to be okay with not knowing why God is doing something every single day, but knowing and trusting that in the end it will all make sense hen we look back because hindsight is 20/20.
I think for me, the more I get into the posture of fully trusting God every single day, no matter what happens, the more I can start to see His hand, even in the now, because I’m looking for it. I’m looking for God’s hand in the now in a very positive way. And I saw it because what you decide to look at will determine ultimately what you see. For me, on a very practical level, sometimes it looks like God has closed the door, “Okay, you’re trying to shift me into something else. You closed the door.” “You don’t want me to work with this person. You closed the door.” “Okay, you don’t want me to go here today.” Then a couple hours later you realize that there was this that happened and this that happened and this that happened. God was blocking me from that. Or even sometimes it’s a year later, we look back and go, “Man, that would have been the worst decision I ever made for myself. I’m so glad that God closed the door.”
I think my bottom line is we have to be okay with not knowing everything about God and why He does what He does, because once we can become okay with that it allows for us to be okay with His moving in the now and we’ll see it a little clearer.
JF: In the book you talk about rescue, what are the many forms of rescue?
Sam: I think that God rescues us in many ways. We talk a lot about this in the book that many of us experience rescue in different ways. For some of us, it’s a very physical rescue. For some of us, it’s a very spiritual rescue. For some of us, it is a very mental rescue in which God shifts our mind.
I think of how God decided to rescue us. The idea that He does is important to know because we can confidently lean on the idea that He is a rescuer. He is a redeemer even though the rescue may not look like what you want it to look like. He is doing that and He will always do that.
JF: For those who read your book, how would you prefer them to interpret sacrifice?
Sam: I often say that on the other side of your sacrifice is the miraculous. Or if I were to say it a different way, sacrifice paves the way for the miraculous. It creates the context in which we can exist. And so I think I would want people to process the idea of sacrifice specifically on sacrificing for the kingdom. Sacrificing for the kingdom is the context and creates the context for God to do the miraculous through you and the world.
What does sacrifice mean? It means putting down our own desires. What does sacrifice mean? It means sacrificing and putting down time. What does sacrifice mean? It means I’m doing something for someone else to be better that we may not have normally done. When I think about my life and being adopted and being raised, that was one of the greatest sacrifices my parents could’ve ever made. They gave up 30 years of their life to make sure me and my twin sister became healthy and then became everything that we were going to become. They sacrificed and sacrificed and sacrificed.
What I would love for the reader to walk away with is this idea. You gotta read the book to fully understand the idea because we give examples and we give practical solutions. But at the end of the day, I want readers to walk away with the understanding of sacrifice as being an opportunity to create the context for the miraculous.
JF: Of all the advice you offer in your book, what do you think is the one element or piece of advice that you find most people struggle with?
Sam: Wow. I think people struggle with the idea of the unknown. I talk a lot about the unknown that the deeper you go in the Christian faith, the more you study, the more you begin to understand that if you’re going to make it, you have to be okay with just never knowing the answer to something. But as humans, we like control. We like safety. But being a Christian means being okay with trusting the one that is the Author of all safety, the safest one that we could ever put our trust in is the Creator of the world. Unfortunately, He’s not as tangible as we want Him to be. I can’t reach out and touch Him the same way I can touch my wife or another human. But with that being said, we have to be okay with accepting the fact that He has us in the palm of His hands even when we don’t know what He’s doing or why He’s doing something in a certain way.
It’s just being okay with the unknown. I give people permission to be okay with the unknown. I think that that’s one of the hardest things for people to grasp.
JF: Absolutely. So taking that unknown and transferring it personally, how does that feeling of the unknown rest with you in terms of what you feel God has in store for your future personally and your family’s future?
Sam: It’s a great question. I think I will answer it this way and just simply say that about 10 years ago we went on this journey of trying to figure out purpose. You know there are so many self-help books out there, right? They say one plus one equals two and 10 steps to greatness and 20 steps to this, and you gotta do this. So, we created our own version of that rooted in scripture, which was amazing. It was called “The Idea of No Losing and the Strategy for Winning Those Five Steps.” It was awesome.
But the one step that we never included and the one thing that we could never systematize was God’s grace. We could not systematize it or even predict it. In other words, there were moments when we were diving into the strategy and we would say, “Okay, you’ve done this. You’ve done that and now the next step is this.” And all of a sudden, God would come in and do something crazy. He would open doors. He would change people’s directions. He would take passions away. We were like, “Why? We cannot control Him.” We can control the idea of getting a mentor and making a plan and doing a strategy and even getting money and investments, but we can’t control God.
When we talk about the idea of the unknown in the future, you have to be okay with God doing it the way He wants to do it. You have to have your plan. I’m not saying don’t have a plan. That’s very important. You have to have a plan, but you also have to leave room for God to have His plan. And that’s even how I got here today. My goal was not to just travel around the country or even write a book about this idea of a greater story. A Greater Story didn’t even exist. I had other plans; I had other visions. I had TV, radio, preaching, and other things that I was doing and all of that. Then one day, God stopped me in my tracks and said, “No, this is what I want you to do now. This is the story.”
I could not have planned on going on the “Steve Harvey Show” or any of that. That’s God’s Providence. You cannot control it. Thinking about my family and my future, the best thing I think that we could do that we find comfort in and rest in, and safety in, is believing that God is good and that His grace is sufficient and that he will do things the way He wants to do and if He does it the way He wants to do it, we’re better off for it.
JF: During the whole writing process of A Greater Story, what did you learn about yourself and was there any topic or situation that you found especially difficult to write about or confront?
Sam: I think the hardest thing me to write about were some of my years when I was in ministry and leadership at Newburgh Missionary Baptist Church under the leadership of Bishop Eddie Long. It was a 25,000 member African-American ministry that dropped down to 3,000 in a year after a scandal.
It’s not a big part of the book, maybe three or four pages, but there was no way I couldn’t have talked about those years because I was there for maybe six years. I had brothers that were kind of coming down against the Bishop and saying that they had undergone some abuse or something similar. I had my spiritual father, Bishop Long was at the time, and I was stuck in the middle. I wanted to honor him, but also I didn’t want to dishonor what they may have gone through, which I’m not sure of fully what happened. It was hard. It was hard balancing the two out of wanting to bring credibility, if you will, and wanting to bring a sense of support and love to my brothers that were on the news. But also wanting to salute Bishop Long for what he did for me personally in my ministry life. But also not wanting to endorse any type of abuse for those that have been through abuse. I think that was the hardest part: walking people through that and then getting to the rest of the book.
Sam Collier is a pastor, speaker, writer, and host of the A Greater Story with Sam Collier TV show and radio podcast. He is a speaker and host at North Point Ministries, founded by Andy Stanley, and he also communicates nationally and internationally as a speaker and contributor to the ReThink Group, Orange Network, Orange Tour, Alpha International Leadership Conference, Willow Creek Global Leadership Summit, Culture Conference, and more. He has also been interviewed on numerous TV shows, podcasts, and radio programs. Collier lives with his wife, Toni, and daughter in Atlanta, Georgia. Learn more at AGreaterStory.org
John Farrell is a Digital Content Writer / Editor of Inspiration.org.
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