Neat and Tidy!

(Blog Post by Stan Kellner –

Proverbs 3:5-6

Many years ago, we were preparing to head to Geneva, Switzerland to live and work.  God changed our direction abruptly and we never made it.  However, we were immersed in the process which included taking an intensive French language course.  I love languages and to prepare myself personally, I also began to read the Bible in French (en Francais Courant version). 

Two decades later I’m still struck by some fascinating nuances that I found as I meditated on Proverbs 3:5-6 in the French.  Now, I’m not a French expert but here is a paraphrase of that passage –

“Have all your confidence in God NOT in your neat and tidy intelligence.  Search and become familiar with the way in which you should embark and you will be led to success in the sound and correct way.”

This passage hits me deep in my heart to this day.  One phrase that jumps out is “neat and tidy”.  Our world, including the Christian world, tends toward wanting everything in a neat and tidy package.  TV murder mysteries get solved and wrapped up in 60 minutes (unless it is a “…to be continued”) which I absolutely hate, but that’s a whole other issue.  🙂

While I’m certainly not against doing things decently and in order (as the Bible mentions – I Corinthians 14:40) there is a propensity in our society to do everything “within the lines” or “on time” or “expediting the result”.  We are driving ourselves into a frenzy.  I’m not sure God is real excited about this approach to life.

One insight that helps explain the bent toward “neat and tidy” is our Western Mindset.  As we look at history, there are two distinct mindsets at odds – the Middle East or Hebraic Mindset and the Western Mindset.

The Hebraic Mindset tends to be not so “neat and tidy”.  This mindset believes in an orderly universe, etc.  However, Hebraic allows much more room for discussion, debate, challenge and even disagreement and yes, we can still be friends.

Go to Old City Jerusalem and what we, in the West, would easily confuse as anger and bitter attacks, is actually just two Jews “with three opinions”!  They can raise their hands and even raise their voices and yet, when they are finished, will hug and say “L’heet Larote” (translation for “see ya later”).

The Western Mindset, Greco/Roman thinking, which the U.S. is impacted by, wants everything answered in a “neat and tidy” package.  We need the “six steps to…” or “how-to” formulae.  Now, these approaches are not bad in and of themselves. 

However, as we attempt to trust God everyday and do what He asks, SO often He will tell me how He appreciates my input on a given situation and then He takes me in a totally different direction!  Or I would like the answer at 10:30 and yet God seems to always wait until 11:59.  Oy Vey!  I guess God and I must own two different watches.

So, what’s my point?  Here’s a key lesson God is teaching me as I am walking through a God-ordained transition that was totally unexpected on my part –

Rather than – “…God, I know we could live in these places and I know my jobfit tests tell me I should do such and such…”

How about – “Abba, You’ve created me. You embroidered me in the womb, you’ve wired and gifted me in specific ways so that the most glory can be given to you as I experience the joy in doing them.  So, please show me where and how I should serve you and prepare my heart and will to obey you.  I want to go where You tell me to go.”

This mindset takes loads of burdens off of my back.  I still stay occupied in an active job search but…daily as I acknowledge God, I recognize that He will guide me, with intimate detail, as I follow Him.

Where are you today?  Are you attempting to hold on to your “neat and tidy” world”  Or are you willing to risk and tell Abba that you are ready to serve Him no matter what?  Isaiah says it this way, “Here I am…send me”.

Does this preclude the ability to work in the same role for 30 years ?  No.  Does it preclude the ability to sink your roots down in a particular neighborhood? No.

What it does require is your willingness to let go of the “neat and tidy” if that’s what God asks of you.  Oh, and by the way, this idea of forsaking our “neat and tidy” approach is to literally deal with the tendency we all have to speculate about a given outcome.  Until recently I was the king of speculation.  God has been doing a number on me to break me loose of speculation and wholly lean on His understanding, His perspective, His timing and His outcome.

My prayer and challenge for you today is simply this – Ask God for His will, His direction, His path no matter how it might upset your plans and propensities.  I can guarentee you one thing – you’ll never be bored again!

One thought on “Neat and Tidy!

  1. Hey Lindsay,

    If you feel led to pass some of blog samples on to them, have at it. I want to bless people now with what I’m experiencing. However, if God wants these musings to go to a larger audience I’m all about allowing Him to multiply the impact.

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