Sometimes it’s 2 AM and the thoughts that you can usually tune out seem a little louder and a whole lot harder to ignore. The ones that try to make you dwell on the past, fearful of what the future holds; telling you that you can’t – or that even if you tried, you’d fail – making you feel insufficient, incapable, insecure.
That same voice, often in a little different tone, will try to manipulate me into thinking that I’m somehow in control of the things that happen in my life. Lately, though, the Lord has been revealing to me this: it’s not the difficulties that define you, but how you respond. Your car breaks down. Someone close to you passes away. You don’t get the job. The friends/family you’ve been trying to witness to just don’t seem to get it. There’s uncertainty in what the next few months hold. Things didn’t really work out the way you planned. Life happens.
I think of myself as a person that likes to have a reasonable amount of control. I don’t like surprises. I like to know what to expect – where we are going, who will be there, what I should wear. I like to plan. My planner is my best friend because I like to look at the week ahead of me and see everything that’s going to happen so I can be prepared. I also really enjoy my independence. I think this stems somewhat from desiring control, this way I know that it’s going to be done the way I want it. If you are a fellow believer in Christ, you can imagine how completely wrecked I was when I gave my life to Him. Because God doesn’t work this way. He doesn’t fit His plan and His will around what we set up for ourselves. He will often throw a wrench right in the center of what I thought I had going. It’s comical sometimes, really. Because accepting God into your heart and your life makes everything easier, right?
Wrong. He doesn’t make it easier. Not always, anyway. Sometimes, I even feel like my relationship with God makes my life more difficult. It makes me do things that I never imagined I’d be able to do; things that make me uncomfortable. Things that I can’t plan for and things that surprise me, that I don’t even understand. Things that only leave me one choice: to trust Him. And here’s me, without a back-up plan.
And who wants a back-up plan aside from God, anyway?
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:8-9 NIV)
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” (Proverbs 3:5-6 NIV)
In one of his sermons, Matthew Chandler says, “One of the most merciful things the Lord ever did to me was allow me to understand that all the control I thought I had was an illusion.”
Oddly enough, isn’t it comforting? It’s sort of amazing to think about the fact that the Lord has everything under control. Everything. When your head is spinning because something came up that you couldn’t have possibly planned for and you have no idea how you’re even going to make it through the next week, God’s got it. He’s got you. So, even though he doesn’t make it easier or predictable, He makes it worth it.
“And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” (Ephesian 3:17b-21 NIV)
That’s the beauty of it: we have a God that can do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine. And if we respond with trust and by pressing into what He has to say, and if we’re praying wholeheartedly, knowing and believing that He is able and that His plan is far greater than anything we could dream up ourselves…those issues really don’t seem so big anymore.
If we could do it on our own, where does that leave room for His glory?
“Yours, Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendor, for everything in heaven and earth is yours. Yours, Lord, is the kingdom; you are exalted as head over all.” (1 Chronicles 29:11 NIV)