I like being in control of the circumstances that can impact my life. Put another way, I hate NOT being in control, and I typically try to manipulate things to ensure I attain control of whatever it is that falls across my path. That might be why I often find myself frustrated, angry, and at times bitter – because control over life is more often illusory than reality.
Then I read words like these: “Are not two sparrows sold for a cent? And yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows.” (Matthew 10:29-31) And, “Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? . . . .” (Matthew 6:26-32)
That thing about the birds usually hangs out in my intellect. Only on rare occasions does that truth reach into my heart. God knows when even one falls to the ground. Does He not know – and care about my circumstances?
At 72, and having walked with Jesus for 50 years, I know it is high time for me to finally adopt a different attitude. But my multiple failures to change my attitude have, by this time, convinced me that such a seismic shift in my faith is not at all under my control. I absolutely need the supernatural intervention of the Holy Spirit.
How would my life – indeed, all of our lives be better – if by the Holy Spirit’s work, I put into practice my intellectual belief that God’s love is truly limitless and never failing – even during my desperate struggles and dreadful disappointments? What if we were convinced that St. Paul’s letter to the Christians at Rome also applies to us: “Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? . . . . But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:35-39)
What if we were unhesitatingly convinced God is good all the time and in all circumstances – that Psalm 145 is always true: The LORD is righteous in all His ways and kind in all His deeds (verse 17)?
What if we were persuaded that God always retains absolute and moment by moment authority over nations, kings, and individuals? That Proverbs 21:1 is always true: “The king’s heart is like channels of water in the hand of the LORD; He turns it wherever He wishes”; as is Isaiah 40:15 “Behold, the nations are like a drop from a bucket, And are regarded as a speck of dust on the scales; Behold . . . All the nations are as nothing before Him, They are regarded by Him as less than nothing and meaningless.”
“Richard,” I should start asking myself every time I sense a loss of control over my life’s circumstances, “What do you need that your heavenly Father cannot provide? And if He does NOT provide it, does that mean He is capricious? He cannot be trusted, or is in any measure impotent?” “Or does it mean something more magnificent – that my circumstances can turn out for my good –perhaps especially if I participate with Him in the circumstances that surround me?”
Several years ago I wrote a poem that summarizes everything I’ve asked myself again and again, not only in recent years, but now once more today as I write this. I include the poem here because I believe it ought to provide all of us food for thought as we continue our journey toward spiritual maturity. And perhaps it will also help solidify the truth in our hearts that all we REALLY can control is our attitude toward life’s circumstances and events – and that we should just let God be God in our lives.
My First Thought
"When I finally leave this body and stand in the presence of my Father's glory, when He reaches from His throne and draws me to His lap, when I then understand what I could not understand in life – that being the enormity of His incomprehensible power, the limitlessness of His authority over every molecule of eternity . . . when I finally understand that no creature in heaven or on earth can open what he shuts or close what He opens, and that the totality of creation throughout countless galaxies bow at His presence . . . ."
"When I leave this body and stand in His presence, I think my first thought – when I realize where I am and in whose arms I rest – my first thought will not be shrouded in sorrow for my many sins, for things I did or did not do in life."
"I think I will be most sorry that I didn’t trust Him more, when I had so many chances to do so."