At risk of being shunned by some circles in which I travel, I’m going to make a confession. When faced with adversity, if someone tells me that God is in control, I want to throw up. Just being honest. Not asking for absolution.
I could name countless situations in my life, in the lives of people I love, and in the world that, if I believed God was in control of them, would cause me to throw my hands in the air and say “That’s it. I’m done.”
Platitudes don’t work for me. Please don’t toss them my way.
As I write this, it’s early. I’ve just spent time praying and reading scripture. I haven’t looked at the news, so don’t know what calamities might have occurred while I slept.
This has been a heavy week. (How is it only Wednesday?) I’m afraid to dip my toe in, so I’m lingering in the land where the unseen seems far more tangible than anything else or, as Dallas Willard refers to it in The Divine Conspiracy, in the “divine reality in the midst of which all humanity moves about—whether it knows it or not”. The kingdom among us.
The battle is not one of protestors or politicians. It’s not won or lost with accusations or the invocation of “emergency” measures from a privileged ivory tower. Military tanks, complaints, misunderstandings, financial instability, relationship challenges, physical and mental health concerns, death—don’t tell me God is supposed to be in control of these things and they’ll all turn out for the better, because I’ll tell you he must be asleep at the wheel.
God isn’t a genie I summon by crossing my arms and wiggling my nose. I don’t need to find an exact combination of words to pray or good deeds to do in order to win sufficient favour to have my prayer requests answered. That’s a pretty small (and inaccurate) picture of our Creator.
It’s a spiritual battle, my friends. Whatever we’re facing—whatever our world is going through, no matter the magnitude, it’s fought in a realm we can’t see with limited human vision. The Divine is with is in the midst of whatever we face, not waiting in the wings to pluck us from it when we find the right magic words. And sometimes it’s going to get ugly.
But in the middle, when we learn to let go and lean in and trust even when it’s just damn hard to get out of the bed in the morning, we find our faith. And it’s here in the muck where we come to understand our belovedness in the sight of God who is with us whether we realized it or not.
Do miracles, large and small, sometimes happen? Of course. But I’ve come to believe that the greatest miracles in my life are that which call me back to Divine contemplation, the certainty of my belovedness, and precious moments when I catch a glimpse of something otherworldly.
In a few minutes, after I finish putting the spit and polish on this post, I’ll check in with the news and, more than likely, find something troubling. Lord willing, I’m going in anchored in the divine reality that’s far more real in the end and I’ll do a reasonable job of maintaining my peace this day. But even if I don’t—if I end up afraid and overwhelmed at the state of what’s out there—don’t tell me God is in control.
Instead, remind me to be still and breathe prayer until I bring to mind spiritual truth that’s far deeper and more trustworthy than anything else. This is the way of the kingdom among us.