My mind has been pre-occupied this week with weather and flight schedules as I’ve watched long-distance as my little birdie made her way back to school from wintery Nebraska to Texas… Not one but two flights were cancelled…and the rescheduled ones had lengthy delays over dragging hours, and an overnight in a hotel en route.
Not just once but on two successive mornings I was catapulted from my bed by the unnerving jangle of my phone ringing, to face the latest hitch in the scheduled flights…
It is apparent at times like these that life is most certainly not under our control. We may make plans but we do not control outcomes. Such a simple thing as a snowstorm, or sub-zero temperatures can ground thousands of people and delay countless others in their tracks.
The wind is only just rising here tonight. We won’t have snow but I hear the rain lashing against the kitchen window. I am cozy beside the flickering warmth of the wood stove--thankful not to be going out. In our part of the country, fog grounds planes and high wind disrupts ferry schedules, leaving us marooned. We live at the mercy of the weather, you might say, but ultimately of the Weather-maker.
But I think blizzards and wild weather are very valuable reminders. They show how very small we are in the whole scheme of the universe, and that we are most certainly NOT in control. Ironically, in an effort to assert our power we concoct theories such as ‘global warming’ and task ourselves with its prevention. It is laughable. We are not in control. And as much as I personally dislike that feeling at times…it is a good thing to be reminded of. Because really, do I want to be in control? really? I may think so but… In all honesty, I’d far rather be a passenger in a plane on a stormy day (so long as I trust the pilot) than be tasked with flying it! With control comes responsibility. I haven’t the power or the wisdom for such greatness.
And really, being out of control is a terrifying reality only if you picture your destiny being subject to arbitrary cosmic forces not concerned with your welfare. But what if instead your destiny is hand-picked by an all-loving, all-knowing, all powerful God who is both Creator and Sustainer of the Universe and everything in it? And what if He has invited you to be His own kin? Where is the place of fear in facing the storm? At best bad weather is inconvenient and spoils our well-laid plans. At worst it’s life-threatening. But either way we’re in Good strong Hands that can take care of us far better than we can ourselves.
I’ve been chewing this week on a quote attributed to John Piper:
”In every situation and circumstance of your life, God is always doing a thousand different things that you cannot see and you do not know.”*
It is to me a reminder to trust where I cannot see God’s Hand at work, to believe when being out of control makes me fearful, and always to give thanks for there is good reason, even if I can’t see it yet!
So when the storms of life blow our plans off course and buffet these ‘tents’ we call home…and when things get so desperate we don’t know what to do…what’s left? We can be stressed or we can rest. I dipped into a book by Louie Giglio this morning in which he elaborates on the importance of realizing both who God is and who I am not.** The minute we begin to think ourselves essential to God’s plan being carried out in the earth we are on shaky ground. He is God. He will be exalted in all the earth. His plans are undeterred with or without us. He may invite us to be involved in what He is doing, but this is His choice. He is at work all around us in a myriad of ways, working in all things for His fame, using whom He will how He will. (paraphrased from Giglio, p 105)
This is, incidentally, why it is foolish to compare ourselves with others in the Body who seem to be doing more, or less, than we. So? Given the access we have to fellow-Christians via the Internet, this is an easy trap to fall into. I know. I’ve been there today; it’s demoralizing. Have you been there? You read somebody’s testimonial perhaps or their New Year’s resolutions and feel so pitiful in comparison. While you may be resolving just to get in the habit of reading the Bible every day, you find the fellow who not only has read it through in a year, but twice in a year, and then in a month! Or instead of settling for three chapters a day you find a Bible Reading plan that boasts the goal of reading 3650 chapters in a year instead. That’s ten chapters a day!
And just when you thought maybe you’d make a simple New Year’s resolution…you read somebody’s 50-year-life-plan they composed when they were 19 and have been trying to live out ever since. And suddenly you feel terribly behind, and kind of t-i-r-e-d… This is what comes of comparisons. Stories shared for inspiration and encouragement can so quickly go awry when we give way to a competitive mindset.
But here too, and getting back to thinking about our calling to know who God is and who we aren’t………REST is pivotal. Being still from our frenetic efforts to keep the world spinning, greatly honors God. In our restfulness we declare we are not in control but we trust the One who is.
There is no point getting on a plane in stormy weather only to sit with every muscle anxiously tensed. It will not increase our likelihood of arriving safe and sound but will only guarantee we arrive exhausted, while the relaxed traveler arrives rested. And where is God’s glory in this approach?
To change the metaphor, “when we tirelessly toil, as though that’s what it takes to keep our ship afloat, we steal God’s glory, elevating ourselves as sole providers and sustainers of all we have and are.” (Giglio, 123)
“Furious rest” is how Giglio describes the sort of active trust God desires us to experience in His care. “[It] is not about doing nothing. It’s about doing everything we do with the quiet confidence that our lives, families, businesses, ministries, relationships, and dreams are in His hands.” (Giglio, 124)
This is the kind of trust I want to learn to a greater degree in this New Year, weather or not! How about you?
P.S. And I’m working on a Bible reading plan too. Maybe those plans weren’t such a bad idea after all… ( :
We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves. When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise. We, however, will not boast beyond proper limits, but will confine our boasting to the sphere of service God himself has assigned to us, a sphere that also includes you. II Cor. 10:12,13 NIV
Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand. Rom. 14:4 ESV
For thus saith the Lord GOD, the Holy One of Israel; In returning and rest shall ye be saved; in quietness and in confidence shall be your strength: and ye would not. Is. 30:15 KJV
*This Piper quote was cited in an excellent article by Nancy Leigh DeMoss called Perspective and Hope for your Battle. It can be accessed at the TrueWoman.com website.
** Giglio, Louie, I am not but I know I AM, Multnomah Publ.,2005