The title above is not a statement of defiance, but a declaration of dependence.
Most, if not all, believers would agree to the overriding doctrine of the sovereignty of God. We may quibble with one another over particular nuances of God’s sovereignty, but we can agree in at least a general sense that we are all subjects of an Almighty King. We can agree that the prescribed chain of authority begins with God and not with us. We can agree that God is in control, and we sometimes find ourselves singing songs at church that proclaim that truth. We believe that man does not have the permission (or ability) to direct God in what He is to do, that He does not receive instructions from us. We affirm these truths with our mouths, then…
- We get stuck in traffic and lose our composure with fellow drivers.
- We are awaiting a decision on a promotion at work.
- We find out we were not accepted to whichever school was going to be most beneficial to our future career.
- The potential buyer for our property backs out at the last possible minute.
- Our favored political candidate loses an election.
- We are presented with a job performance evaluation and we sweat over what might be said or done at its conclusion.
- A brilliant idea/vision comes to mind and we are anxiously awaiting buy-in from key people – spouse, family, friends, business partners, etc.
The list could (and does) go on. Functionally, in each of these situations and more, we live and think as if the course of our future is completely dependent on mankind. “If only they will say yes” or “the only hope for our country is if Candidate X wins” or “I hope the admissions office accepts me”. We all have done this. What is really fascinating is that when these tense decision moments come up, when they go our way, we are very quick to give thanks to God; but when they do not go our way, we get into name calling and character assassination of the individual(s) responsible for making the decision.
Does it ever occur to us that the same Author is at work when things go our way AND when things do not go our way? (In an effort to keep this post from going on ad infinitum, I’m intentionally not addressing the problem of “our way”)
One of our stated goals in parenting is that we would be diligent to redeem the time with our children, to make a practical application of Ephesians 5:16 “making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.” One of the resources we use to redeem the time when driving is Fighter Verses. Simply put, these are songs that have Scripture as their lyrics. It has been a huge help in getting our children (and us!) to memorize Scripture.
My 6 year old son (the one I call Peanut) has a favorite Fighter Verse:
3 When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.
4 In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can flesh do to me?
No question that is a great verse to memorize, and makes for a great song. The question is, will I think and act as if that is really true? What lies at the core of the various scenarios in the bullet list above is fear, and specifically, fear of man. That is, I’m very concerned about what the results will be from a human decision or action. If I truly believe what I say I believe, that fear (or anxiety, or worry, or needless preoccupation – feel free to pick your tendency) is at a minimum: 1. unnecessary, 2. accomplishing little, and 3. denying God’s sovereignty. What if the holdup in traffic was God’s plan to keep you out of a wreck? Or what if it was designed by God to show you a particular weakness, such as patience? What if being denied entrance to that school is a gift from God because you couldn’t afford it without drowning in a sea of debt? What if God intended for Candidate X’s loss in an election to be a wakeup call for you to pray for your city, county, state, country? I want to be careful to not ascribe reasons to things for God’s decision making that He has not directly revealed – I merely want to point out that it is God’s decision. Whatever He decides, happens. Let us move away from a very unbalanced, one sided view of God’s sovereignty; that He is sovereign only when our desires are met. Are we willing to say that we trust God even when we don’t get what we want, or what we have convinced ourselves we need? Are we so very confident in the goodness of God’s sovereignty that we will gladly lay aside the fear of man? This is basic, but worth stating – if God controls your present and your future, what can man actually do? Or lets look at it the other way – if man does indeed control your future, how puny must your God be?
Instead, let’s consistently, convincingly, and confidently depend on and declare the sovereignty of God – in all things, He is good. He is good, and powerful, and knows far more (and far better) than I could ever hope to. If that’s true, then I have every reason to join the Psalmist in saying “what can man do to me?”