Who’s in control of our lives?
Who’s going to drive them?
There have been times in my life that God has broken me over this very issue – control. Who was going to have it? One of those times was in my early relationship with my husband.
I can remember the night God showed me I was going to marry Doug. I was in college, still living at home. I’d known him for years at this point. We went to junior high together and became friends. We attended high school - class trips, Senior Prom, graduation – together. We even picked the same college and joined Campus Ministry there. We perfected the phrase “just friends” whenever anyone asked about our relationship. Until mid-way through my sophomore year when God gave me a very clear picture that Doug would one day be my husband.
Well, we remained friends for some time after that. I worked up the courage to tell him I liked him as more than “just friends”, and then decided I’d wait patiently for God to do whatever he was doing. I didn’t think I’d have to wait through a year and a half of him dating other girls before finally, we decided to date. But when that day came, I knew what lay ahead: a diamond ring and trip down the aisle with the man I loved! Yes, finally!
Hmmm…so imagine my surprise when, two months into dating, God made it clear that I was supposed to break up with the Love of My Life. Ummm, hello…where was that in the plan? How did that fit into my trip down the aisle? I’d already waited, and now He wanted me to break up? Walk away? Crazy. Not the road to the diamond ring and Happily Ever After he’d shown me. It made no earthly sense.
I was struggling over who was driving my life.
See, God - in all his infinite wisdom - sometimes gives us pictures of our future. I love that God does this. It’s encouraging. It helps us through the rough times while we’re waiting for that promise. It gives us something to pray over and a peace in the storms we sometimes encounter on our path. Unfortunately, that’s not always what we do.
It starts to take longer than we think it should. It doesn’t go in the direction we plotted when we got a peek at it. There are stops we never anticipated. So what do we do? We begin to take control. Worse than a backseat driver, we grab the wheel and slam our foot on the gas. I mean, he showed us where we were going, didn’t he? Do we really need him to get us there?
Uh yeah, we do. Here’s what his word tells us in Isaiah 55: “My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways…as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
People listen, just because God parts the clouds and allows us a glimpse of our future does not mean we know the route to get us there. It was a glimpse, not a road map. And if we think our way is going to get us there faster or more efficiently, remember…our ways are not his ways.
I had to learn this the hard way. When I rose from my prayer time I had a choice to make. Hold tight to my path or release it to God’s? My speed, my direction, or his? I’d like to tell you I chose trusting God and let him have control, but I didn’t. I stood up, grabbed my Bible and flat out ignored what he told me. I reasoned that I must have heard incorrectly. Isn’t that funny? When it’s something wonderful, we KNOW we heard him right. Yet when it’s something that we don’t like, well then our ears must need a good cleaning. But does our ignoring him, our wrestling the steering wheel from him, change God’ plan? Nope. Does he let us stubbornly navigate our own path for awhile? Yep. And in doing so, we all too often experience hurt we needn’t have. See, it hurts to have our fingers pried open to release something we could have easily let go of in our own obedience.
We still broke up. Only it was a lot more painful than if I had stayed on the path God prepared for me. God had growth that needed to occur in both my husband and I. Growth he needed to do in us separately. Part of that growth, I am sure, was my ability to walk in obedience even when I didn’t understand it. I failed miserably, and I remember the pain from that failure. I also remember God’s grace and unfailing love. His faithfulness to still bring me where he wanted me. Even over the own boulders I placed in my path.
Doug and I had a rocky relationship for the next couple of years. Some obstacles were ones God allowed for our growth. Some were ones I threw up…and some were ones Doug tossed out there. But at one point I finally realized I needed to take my hands completely off this relationship. Trust that God was going to bring us together, even if it took until I was eighty. I began to pray over the relationship I knew God had ordained and concentrate on my relationship with him, not my relationship with Doug. I scooched over and let him sit in the driver’s seat.
And eventually we arrived at the place God had for us. In his timing. And it was perfect.
Here’s the thing (see, there’s always a ‘thing’), God has a plan for you – says so right in Jeremiah 29:11. I’ve talked about this before because it is so important to get into your soul. He knows the plan, and he may even give you a glimpse of it. But don’t grab that glimpse and take off without him. Don’t take control. I know it’s hard when you know where you’re going and you desperately want to get there. But what he wants to show you is not simply in the destination, it’s in the journey. He’s picked this trip, he’s excited to take you on it, and where he’s bringing you will be amazing…but you need to let him drive! And when you do, when you realize his ways are higher than our ways, here’s what your trip will look like: “You will go out with joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and the hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands…”(Isaiah 55:12). Going with joy? Being led in peace? Oh and let's not even start with the clapping trees and singing mountains. Now that’s a trip I don’t want to miss! You?