Saturday, September 20, 2014

When Sovereignty is all that Remains

While digging through some old things today, I came across these words that Eric wrote 5 years ago. When he wrote them, he had no idea that his father would one day be diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer.  This summer, I have fallen even deeper in love with this man of mine as I have watched him be a source of strength and stability for his family through this time of confusion, pain, and heartache. 
Eric still believes what he wrote all those years ago...and leads our family with these principles as well.  I can't get over how blessed I am to call him mine.
Our prayer for Herb is complete healing and restoration of his physical body while here on earth.  We know without a doubt that the Lord can simply speak "BE GONE!" and every single cancer cell will flee his body.  But, we also rest in the fact that God's ways are so much higher than our own.  His sovereign (and good) plan is what enables us to sleep at night and keeps us from despair during the day.  We rest in that matter what that plan looks like.
I thought Eric's words might bring encouragement in whatever you are facing, too.

When Sovereignty is all that remains… An interesting thought isn’t it? One which I spend quite a bit of time thinking on these days. It has been brought close to home in our lives. I have found it opens up our "soul door" for many strong emotions. Fear. Uncertainty. Faithlessness. Abject vulnerability. Anger. Control. Personally, I find my greatest “emotional warring” with God at this place - where His sovereignty invades my life.

It seems over the last several months, God has let me see scripture from this perspective as well. Let me share an example, from the story of Abraham. In Genesis 15, Abraham and God have an interesting discussion.

 Let me summarize: Abraham: God all this stuff is great, but I do not have a son, so how am I going to be a great nation? Right now it looks like a servant in my household will inherit all this.

God: Know this, your servant will not inherit my promise, but a son will inherit everything I will give you. In fact, go outside and look up - your descendants will be like the stars in the sky.

Abraham: God, that sounds great, how can I trust you, because it has not happened yet?

Here is where I want to get, verses 13-16: "Then the LORD told Abram (in a vision), 'You can be sure your descendants will be strangers in a foreign land, and they will be oppressed as slaves for four hundred years. But I will punish the nation that enslaves them, and in the end they will come away with great wealth. (But you will die in peace, at a ripe old age.) After four generations your descendants will return here to this land, when the sin of the Amorites has run its course."

God's response to Abram's question of how do I trust: Sovereignty. My response to God would have been along the lines of "I thought we were talking about making me into a great nation. Is there a better way to spend the next 400 years? Have I messed up what we are doing? What can I do to get a different plan put in place here God?" Abram's response? Silence. In fact, as the remainder of the story unfolds in Genesis, you never read any questioning of this sovereign plan.

We live in a culture and society where the matter of sovereignty can exist as a theological abstract, yet we are able to move about our lives utterly removed from God's sovereignty in our daily lives.

Of course, we occasionally bump into sovereignty here and there, especially when life gets uncomfortable. But once we pull on our “levers of control”, which our rational, technical culture provide us, well then, we can quaintly go back to engaging God as we want. You know, A+B=C. God, I give regularly each month, I expect.....(fill in the blank). Or, God we are seeking you, why won't you remove us from......(fill in the blank). We like the formula of God I do this, therefore, You do this. It is an equation we can count on, trust in, utilize, call upon – in summary: Control.

Reality is this – He is not there, is He? He does not inhabit those equations of control we try to know Him in. God will not be known that way. As Mr. Tumnus says in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, "after all, he isn't a safe Lion."

Let's bring this home. Have you watched a friend or parent waste away with cancer to a former image of themselves? How about losing a sibling or a child to suicide? What about a business failure, or an extended period of being without a job? A friend who betrays deeply? A spouse that cheats, either physically or emotionally? A child that chooses a life of rebellion?

Do we see God's sovereignty in the midst of it, or do we equate that something is "wrong" in our lives and needs fixing? That we have somehow gotten on God's wrong side and we need to pull the proper levers to get this situation changed. Somewhere we have broken the equation, have gotten an 'M' substituted for either the 'A' or the 'B'.

Let me ask this: What if nothing is wrong? What if God's answer is, "know this, I have brought this about so that my glory will be made known in your sickness", or perhaps, "I have you in the desert because this is the season for the desert."

The Psalmist says, “Our God is in the heavens, he does as he pleases,” (Psalm 115:3). Daniel 4:35 states, "All the peoples of the earth are regarded as nothing. He does as he pleases with the powers of heaven and the peoples of the earth. No one can hold back his hand or say to him: 'What have you done?'"

At those times, we come face to face with Yahweh, the Creator of all things. The One who holds all things together. He who sets kings on thrones and deposes them. He who raises up nations and brings them down. He who grants wealth and poverty. He who set the boundaries for the seas and storehouses of snow. He who cares for widows and orphans. He who left His throne to redeem those He loves. He whose kingdom will never end. He who is simply – I AM.

When sovereignty is all that remains, we must be sifted and broken till we are content with God being God and that being enough for us. Why you ask? It is there we find Him.


Anonymous said...

So amazing and such an inspiring reminder of God's sovereignty. Praying for you all.

Anonymous said...

Just what I needed to read this morning. I thank God for the amazing Christian leader He blessed our family with when He gave us Eric.