Saturday, June 12, 2010

Creator, savior & king – Part 2

Like I said before (twice now), he made us, he saves us, and everything that happens to us is under His control.

But I’d be really surprised if no one noticed the huge glaring loophole in last week’s blod.

That loophole is this: We all live inside our own skin and think inside our own heads. So we know that not everything we do is under God’s control.

There are plenty of times (every day!) that we know exactly what we ought to do – and we don’t do it. And what we must avoid at all costs – and we do it anyway. The word for that kind of activity is “sin”. It happens when we reject the rulership of God and decide, for even just one brief moment, to be in charge of ourselves.

Now, please note that we can be in charge of ourselves and still not sin simply by doing what God commands. That’s being responsible & righteous. But when we use the freedom God gives us to do things He doesn’t want us to do, then we have a problem.

So then, how can anyone with any self-awareness at all make the claim that God is in control of everything that happens? The answer is fairly simple.

1. God will sometimes, for our own good, rescind our freedom to do certain things

We can take control and make the decision to do something extremely or only slightly destructive. But sometimes, (although we have already sinned just by deciding to do it) God loves us enough to revoke our ability to carry it out.

I’ve experienced this kind of caring forbidding in my life.

I worked hard enough my last two years of college to earn a place in the masters program at Harvard Divinity School. I was in charge. I worked really hard, I filled out the applications, and I went to the interviews. And I made it. But thrilled as I was, it was not the right thing to do. It was wrong for my kids, wrong for my wife, and if I had actually pursued my course of study there I have no doubt my faith in God (and probably even my belief in God) would have been destroyed.

At the time, I wanted to think going there was right, but looking back years later, I know it would have been a tragedy. And I have no doubt the only reason it didn’t happen is because God stepped in and forbade it.

Long story very short, we drove a U-Haul from L.A. to Boston and got literally kicked out of town. Then, out of time, out of money (and out of trouble!), we got back into our truck and drove away. Considering the shocking number of random factors that went into chasing us off, there is no way it was a natural occurrence. God had said “no”.

That was the worst moment in my life, and the greatest protective blessing I’ve ever received.

2. Nothing throws Him for a loop

Other times, God allows us to go ahead and make the mistake we want to make, but without ever forfeiting control of the situation. God is perfectly able to incorporate our sins and their affects into His perfect plan.

And this is true whether we sin or are sinned against.

Want a great example? How about this one? It’s Joseph’s response to his brothers who had sold him into slavery and then told their father he’d been killed by wild animals.

“As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.” (Genesis 50:20)

The brothers had committed serious, conscious, intentional evil. The victim was innocent and suffered much for many years. But still, he could look back on everything as a whole and proclaim that even in the face of great betrayal God was a good and gracious king in complete control.

How incredibly important that understanding is!

So here’s the thing: If we’re ever going to mature in our faith beyond an infantile level, we must abandon our weak and pathetic understanding of God’s sovereignty. He’s not just king, lord, and master when we let Him be – or when things are going well for us.

He is king, lord, and master always, entirely, and eternally.