Deo Volente

We used to think the future was fairly predictable and made our plans accordingly – but thanks to a global pandemic and its’ significant aftershocks, we are now finding it a challenge to plan just a few months ahead. Some of us had become very accustomed to filling our diaries and wall charts with hopes and plans for years into the future, but now we are more likely to find our wall spaces filled with social distancing warnings than a confident plan for the year ahead.

When the pandemic began to make its impact, many of us deleted many of our plans overnight. Maybe we were too arrogant with our planning? Maybe we assumed too much? I was reminded of something I observed as a child from an older generation of Pentecostal leaders. As I sat each week in church services I would hear the phrase ‘D.V.’ repeated from the front. To give some context, if the leader was announcing the programme for the week ahead he would often add D.V., an abbreviation of the Latin phrase ‘Deo Volente’ – meaning ‘God Willing’. It was an expression of submission. It was also a confession that even our best laid plans are subject to change if God has different ideas. This reminder that flexibility is required before God was also tied to an eager expectation that Jesus return was imminent.  

As these memories came flooding back, I was struck by the need for a new humility to be incorporated into my planning. I wanted to ensure that my heart has D.V. implanted in every planning and dreaming session from now on. I recognised my need to hold plans lighter and be less surprised when the ‘wind blows in a different direction’. 

Is planning wrong?

Of course not. We know planning is usually a good thing as the familiar quote ‘if we fail to plan then we plan to fail’ by Benjamin Franklin communicates. But the main challenge with our planning is we usually bring limited things to the table – usually two which are dominant. Firstly, we bring our past experiences. These try and condition our thinking about the future to be defined as an upgraded version of the past. Secondly, we bring a limited knowledge of tomorrows context and are therefore reliant on fallible predictions and trends. Both our past experiences and our futuristic grasp are deeply lacking in comparison to our omniscient God. This is why our hearts would be wise to say Deo Volente whenever we plan.

Sudden change

God has throughout history surprised His people’s plans with a ‘suddenly’ and when he does, their response has been of great importance. Whilst our present suddenly has no doubt been disorientating and still has many questions and needs attached, I believe there is a response God is looking each of us to give – and if we don’t get it right then I’m concerned we may miss the opportunity to go where He desires to lead us. 

I’ve been thinking about the life-changing journey the Israelites embarked on following their deliverance from Egyptian slavery and particularly the leadership of Moses. He was supposed to lead them from oppression to opportunity but he lost the opportunity to lead them into the land of promise.


Being obedient to a different instruction

In Exodus 17:6 God instructed Moses to strike the rock with his staff in order to miraculously bring forth water – this fresh water quenched the thirst of the nation. Moses obeyed, the people drank and God was praised.

Sometime later in Numbers 20 when the nation faced a similar need, God changed his instruction. This time He instructed Moses to ‘speak to the rock’ – but Moses took out his staff and reverted to a past winning formula. Water miraculously flowed again but it cost Moses entry to the promised land.

There are a number of reasons why God may have changed his instruction between to two incidences (which I won’t get side-tracked with here) but in my experience, God often gives a new directive as a test of our obedience. When everything inside screams ‘do what worked last time’, God invites us to go deeper and trust His present words so He can lead us into a deeper revelation. Right now I’m convinced God is inviting us all to lean in closer to hear His words and obey. Obedience will unlock the destiny of God in this season but disobedience will keep us wandering.


Being a servant not a saviour

In Numbers 20:10 we read ‘must we bring you water out of this rock?’ Was Moses in some way looking to take credit for this miracle? Was he focussing the attention on him when he should have been directing the nation’s attention on God?

I write this particularly to leaders. Please let’s seek to direct people’s attention to God and not to us? Our churches don’t need us to be saviours they need us to be servants. They need us to be attentive lovers of God, inspiring others to fix their gaze on our true Saviour Jesus. Our regathered services, our increasingly HD livestreams, our adapted programmes, our diligent activities – none of them can do anything if we are seeking to be centre stage – they must all point to Jesus and not us.


As we adapt, change, plan and strategise in these significant days, may our hearts ring with D.V. as we desire what God wills. There are many voices discerning something significant about these days – I pray we will not miss out, but step into all God has for us, both now and in the future as we both listen and obey. 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: