I love fictional stories that offer great life lessons, illustrations of good prevailing over evil, or are allegories of faith in God, like The Chronicles of Narnia, Pilgrim’s Progress, even Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter.
There are some pretty great parallels in the Harry Potter series between the events in the story and faith in real life. That may sound strange, but if you’ve read the books, you probably know what I mean. Ultimately, Harry’s self-sacrifice and coming back to life breaks the curse of the enemy, bringing the enemy’s demise, saving everyone and making things right again.
There is a chapter in one of the last book* called “Felix Felicis” about a potion that will give the one who drinks it pure luck. Harry must get some very crucial, personal and even incriminating information from one of his professors, who has already told him he won’t share it with Harry. He and his friends concoct a plan to try and convince the professor, or coerce it out of him. The desired information is crucial if they’re to defeat the enemy.
Harry decides to drink his luck potion and immediately feels as if the day holds limitless potential and possibility. He sets out on the plan he made with his friends, but right away changes his mind, going on his gut or what he feels he should do instead. His friends argue, “That isn’t the plan, Harry!” But he insists, and lo and behold, by following these instincts one after the other, he ends up getting the information from the professor after all, but in an unexpected way, completely different than he planned.
That chapter just shouted to me about how our life could be if instead of making our own plans and rigidly sticking to what we lay out as best, we would live moment by moment, following the urges of God’s Holy Spirit. When I’ve done that, and I am still learning to do it more, I’m amazed at the outcome! It is so clearly because of God and not because of me, and so clearly wonderful.
A few instances come to mind:
I wanted to share Jesus with a close friend where I worked, when we lived in St. Louis. I planned things I wanted to say to her, ways I wanted to show my faith to her, and more, but whenever I tried those methods, it felt fake and forced. Then I got cancer. After my surgery and recovery and I was back to work, one day my friend stopped me in the teacher’s lounge. She said, “I’ve been watching you go through this cancer and have seen you be peaceful and not afraid. I want to know how you did that.” There was no one else in the lounge (which was unusual) and I had a moment to tell her that it was my faith in Jesus that brought me through. She didn’t give her heart to Jesus right there in the teacher’s lounge, but not long after at a church she and her husband visited, they responded to God calling them to grace and new life. That wasn’t my plan, but it was better. It was God’s plan!
At another job, I was talking with a friend who was taking a world religions class. We had a really interesting discussion, again there happened to be no customers there at the moment or even other co-workers. She was sharing the beliefs she was coming to from learning in the class, and I shared with her what I believe about Jesus, about grace, forgiveness, a relationship with God and everything. It was so natural and afterward I was so excited! I just got to tell the Good News at work and it was so natural, just a part of the conversation. That wasn’t my plan, but it was better.
Recently a friend and I were meeting up for a walk and visit one morning. We didn’t have a plan, were just winging it. After our walk, I found out she wanted to visit a part of town she hadn’t seen so we went there. Then we decided to walk along that street and see the shops. I saw a favorite shop of mine so I steered us around the corner and down a side street. The lady opening that shop happened to know my friend. They had worked together a while ago and hadn’t seen each other since. It was a happy reunion! They exchanged numbers and emails, which was especially nice since my friend was moving away soon. As we left the shop my friend had tears in her eyes. She told me how she has never really had a faith or any religion, but that turn of events and “chance” meeting with her old friend made her think and believe there is a God. I told her I totally believed God arranged that for her to show her how much He loves her, and then was able to share a little more about my faith with her.
In each of these situations, my opportunities to share were not because I had orchestrated some wonderful plan, but because God had and allowed me to be a part of it. What a joy and how beautiful. How much more would He use us to share hope and life with people if we would just listen for His voice and follow those instincts He gives us, rather than holding rigidly to what we have in mind or what we think will be best.
He evidently is a God who won’t be pinned down by four easy steps to share the Gospel. He is so much more creative, inventive, and is the very Maker and Possessor of limitless potential and possibilities. We don’t need Felix Felicis, but we do need to let go, be present, listen and wait, and watch God do something unexpected and wonderful.
We’ll find ourselves saying, “That wasn’t the plan,” but it will be better!
“People can make all kinds of plans, but only the Lord’s plan will happen.” Proverbs 19:21 NCV
“Depend on the Lord in whatever you do, and your plans will succeed.” Proverbs 16:3 NCV
“Your own ears will hear him. Right behind you a voice will say, ‘This is the way you should go,’ whether to the right or to the left.” Isaiah 30:21 NLT
*Book referenced is “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince” by J.K.Rowling, 2006