it seems to me that there are two different ways we can respond to things, but namely to God and the things He commands: submission or defiance.
defiance sounds like such a harsh word, especially when it seems like something isn’t a big deal, when it seems more like simple disobedience. it seems like a harsh word when disobedience seems like the thing that comes more easily, and more in line with our nature (news flash: we have a bit of a nature for disobedience, anyway…)
it doesn’t seem like defiance if you choose to go a different route than your GPS suggests to go home. and this is, of course, a bad analogy, because i can buy that we may know the better route given traffic at certain times of day – but consider this: God isn’t a faulty GPS who only sees the shortest possible distance and doesn’t account for traffic. no, God is supremely wise, supremely good, supremely sovereign, and it seems to me that the things He commands His people is always – EXCLUSIVELY – leading to life.
He’s a Father who gives good gifts to His kids. (Matt. 7:11)
He’s the God whose word illuminates the path of those who hear it and welcome it. (Psalm 119:105)
He’s the God who makes known the path of life (Psalm 16:11)
He’s the God who will one day wipe every tear from our eyes (Revelation 7:17)
He’s the God who sent His Son to make a way for all to live eternally with Him (John 3:16)
He’s the God who Authors our salvation (Hebrews 12:2)
He’s a Potter, and we are clay. (Isaiah 64:8.)
As the song says, He’s a good, good Father. His way always leads to life. His way often confounds us, His way rarely (if ever) makes sense according to the way that most people think, but that doesn’t change His goodness. This is perhaps the hardest thing to understand, and i can attest to its difficulty. i can testify to some of the very distracted prayers we lift up to Him because it’s hard to see past our circumstance – whether that’s loneliness, financial struggle, a lack of a clear direction, loss of something or someone near and dear – i get that. i’ve been there, too.
i get the temptation to lean away, and not to lean in. that’s instinctive.
here’s what i know: stuff happens. pain happens. hurt happens. loss happens. and i know how tempting it is to believe that in a life with God, none of this should happen. technically, you’re right – in the garden, before sin came in, none of it did happen. but then sin happened, and it does happen.
but that doesn’t mean we just consign ourselves to that reality forever and curse God for it by in our inaction and disobedience. all through Job and the Psalms, we find these “how long” statements – how long will my enemies triumph over me? how long will You crush me? how long must i be sorrowful? how long will You just stand there and look? how long will other people get the better of me?
you know, God has His fair share of “how long” statements, too – how long will y’all refuse to obey what I’ve commanded you? how long will you refuse to go into the land I’ve promised you? how long will you refuse to humble yourselves before me? how long will you grumble against me? how long will you keep wavering between two options? how long will you keep holding on to your wicked thoughts?
now, the good news (as has already been alluded to) is that this isn’t just a combative, continuous back-and-forth blame game between us and God. even if this was a fair exchange of grievances, God decided to step in and settle it Himself in the form of Jesus.
the curse of sin, in which this age-old back-and-forth of “how long?” is rooted, is lifted through Jesus because of His perfect life and substitutionary sacrifice; because of the fact that He – sinless and perfect and complete – was punished as one of us, who are sinful and imperfect and incomplete, so that we’d have a way back into this eternal life, this eternal wholeness, this eternal shalom – peace, harmony, wholeness – the world the way it’s supposed to be.
the main reason i’m writing today is to hopefully encourage you – i think there’s deep joy in embracing our role as clay in the hand of the Potter. i think there’s freedom in letting go of control, of releasing the pressure to make everything happen yourself, in trusting that God always has our best in mind – not to imply that our lives will be perfect now, but that He’s leading us in the way everlasting, til the day He makes the world new again, and the curse of sin, death, and suffering will be lifted forever.
that promise is worth the cost of faithfulness now.
For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. (Romans 8:18)