I was talking with a young man who is struggling in the last few weeks. I was feeling frustrated, since to me, the answers were easy to find. I challenged him that there would be natural consequences if things weren’t resolved. With an outburst of exasperation and emotion, he responded, “Geez! Why can’t you just trust God about this? That’s what I am doing!”
Wham. Like a good, swift kick to the posterior, I was reminded (again) that I was trying to control something that wasn’t in my control to resolve. It was between this young man and God. Not me, him and God, no matter what I thought I knew.
How many times have I tried to control the outcome of a situation? To control- some might even say manipulate, the behavior of others to meet my expectations? In all the years I have walked with God, one would think I had learned Who was in charge (that would be God) and who wasn’t in charge (that would be me). But here I am, more than twenty-five years later, still battling the first thing I faced as a new believer. Who is in charge of things?
I became a believer and fell in love with a young man all at the same time. It was difficult to see where my growing love for God ended and my love for the young man began. I tried to control the relationship, make him fit into my mold of what I thought a Christian man should be. Three years later, he broke off our relationship and looking back, I am so grateful.
When my husband and I started discussing getting together, we were honest about what we needed and what we expected in each other. Our faith was paramount to anything else, but whatever else we felt we would need for a successful relationship and eventual marriage would have to come out of that common ground.
Sadly, I admit that my desire to be in charge and control has not stopped. I would like to think it has shrunk, but I know that when I am not in close relationship with God, I go back to controlling things. It is here that I am reminded of Job. Many of us know that he was the guy who lost everything. But he was also the same man who had a once in a lifetime opportunity to hear from God in those moments. It wasn’t a gentle conversation, but it was honest.
Job 38 begins with, Then the LORD answered Job out of the storm,. He said: “Who is this that darkens my counsel with words without knowledge? Brace yourself like a man: I will question you, and you shall answer me,” (1-3).
God is reminding Job and his three friends who have even sitting with him WHO was in charge and who clearly was not. Verses four through seven challenge: Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? Tell me, if you understand. Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know! Who stretched a measuring line across it? On what were its footings set, or who laid its cornerstone- while the morning stars sang together and the angels shouted for joy?
Chapter 38 goes on all through chapter 41 with God challenging Job to tell him where he was when God created the world and the creatures in it. Where was Job when God commanded the sea, this far you may come and no further; here is where your proud waves halt (Job 38:11)? By the beginning of Job 42 it is clear, Who is in charge, if it wasn’t earlier.
Then Job replied to the LORD: “I know that you can do all things; no plan of yours can be thwarted. You asked, ‘Who is this that obscures my counsel without knowledge?’ Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know,” (Job 42:1-2).
You see, Best Beloved, it is best when I am not in control. I might think I know stuff, but when it comes to what God sees, knows, understands, and has planned, I don’t know enough to fill a thimble.
And that’s ok. When I let myself lean on Him, all He knows, and all He sees, then I can find rest. I will not be running around, trying to manage all the people in my family. Or their relationships, their schedules, their futures. I can leave it in the hands of the One who created it all.
Job gets the best part of this situation though, I think. My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you (verse 42:5). After all of Job’s loss, sorrow, the unhelpful friends who have sat with him, he sees that it was not a complete loss. He had known about God in concept, what he might have learned about at the temple. But now, now Job had seen – truly seen- the might, the power, the abilities of God. Job knew that even when he couldn’t see what was going on in the world. He could see God. And that was enough.
When the young man challenged me to trust God for the outcome, he didn’t realize what he was telling me. I needed the reminder. Just as Job had finite eyes to see an infinite God, I needed the finite eyes to remember I was not in charge.
First Corinthians 2:9 says it best, No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him.
That is just the kick in the pants I need every day.