Friday, February 18, 2011

Out of Our Control

Many religions preach that everyone is, quite literally, a potential god, or at least part of a God that is defined as the sum total of all that exists. While the idea that we are the real God's equals is anathema to orthodox Christianity, many sincere Christians imply almost as much: "You'd be healed if you just trusted God enough." "God would never let my plans fail, not when I'm doing His work." This is risky thinking not only because it implies we know as much as the Lord, but because it puts us in danger of completely losing faith in Him when--as happens to all of us occasionally--He fails to "deliver" what we expected.

Are you capable of looking directly at the thing you fear most and saying, "If this should ever be Your will for me, Lord, I will accept it with joy even if I don't understand it"? If the idea makes you shudder, don't feel too guilty; I don't claim to be particularly confident in that area either. Perhaps thinking too much about what God might ask us to give up isn't that good an idea to begin with; it has a way of feeding worry instead of dissipating it. If we regularly got our minds off earthly things, and concentrated on God and God alone, we might find it easier to fall so completely in love with Him that we could say with St. Paul, "I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage" (Phil. 3:8). Incidentally, Paul's dismissing his earthly gains as "garbage" is even more radical than it sounds in translation; the original Greek word is a coarse term for "excrement."

Not that Paul's primary goal was--or that anyone's primary goal should be--hating earthly things for the sake of hating them. His purpose was to stress how much more God is worth than "all [other] things [combined]"--something few of us find easy to accept. All our goals, our dreams, our attempts to control our own lives are manifestations of the idea that we know what we must have. And since there is no absolute guarantee we'll be able to hold onto anything, most of us are ruled to some degree by the fear of loss.

The only way out is to surrender completely to fear of the Lord: a terrifying leap into what seems like utter blackness, a complete loss of control.

Which, of course, is the point. The only people who know true security are those who trust God--rather than themselves--to control every aspect of life.

There are those who would have us believe
Fate is held in our hands alone—
“What you think is what you will achieve”—
That you sit on your own life’s throne.
“All it takes is the power of a thought.”
“All you need is within your soul.”
But in truth, that can all come to naught:
Things can spin out of our control!

Illness even can come to the fit;
Even healthy eaters die young;
And some positive thinkers are hit
By disasters that life has sprung.
Yes, however well-laid are your plans
And however firm-set your goal,
Things may slip away out of your hands,
Life may go out of your control!

Friend, the God Who can do everything
Shakes His head at our human pride:
“Come and taste of the life that I bring;
Set your human-based plans aside.
For the ones who place all in My care
Are the ones who are truly whole.
I relieve all the burdens you bear,
If you just let Me take control!”

Like the poetry on this blog? Inquire at about purchasing the book ($10/copy) Where Light Dawns: Christian Poems of Hope for Hurting Hearts.

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