Lately, I have a question rolling through my head way too regularly – sometimes several times a day:
“Do you really think God is that small?”
Here is how it started: I read (the first half) of a book that wrecked me Gospel Fluency by Jeff Vanderstelt. In the first chapter of this book, Jeff lays out a fact that has been a faith challenge to me all summer:
When I say we are all unbelievers, I mean we still have places in our lives where we don’t believe God. There are spaces where we don’t trust his word and don’t believe that what he accomplished in Jesus Christ is enough to deal with our past or what we are facing in this moment or the next. We don’t believe his word is true or his work is sufficient. We don’t believe. We are unbelievers. 1
This is so true!!! I start worrying about…well, you name it…and then I hear “do you really think God is that small?” This one little sentence is helping me to live what I technically believe. You see, many of us believe with our mind, but not with our heart. We believe God is real and rewards those who earnestly seek Him (See Heb 6), but then we get hit with something – bills, people, young adult children, our own futures – and we stop looking at God and start trying to figure out how to fix things.
That is when my heart whispers “Do you really think God is that small?”
Messy is Not a Sin
I’m in the middle of transitions. All three of my younger kids are on the cusp of adulthood, which means I have NO control, and really shouldn’t – but I still have the mommy-panic-button that goes off way too regularly.
I am about to finish my doctorate but have no idea of what God has for me next. I am in my early 50’s, which means I am starting on the most productive years of my life… and I want them to count. And if I start down the panicky trail of trying to make my life count, I will soon find myself disconnected from God and those who mean the most to me.
Then I hear the whisper:
“Do you really think God is that small?”
You see, God is in charge of the universe and He put me here for a reason. I won’t step out of His will unless I purposefully do so. He isn’t going to make my path so vague that I could accidentally step off a cliff. He also has a plan for my kids, and although I know the impact that bad decisions can have, let’s look at a couple bad situations in the bible – two caused by a bad decision and one caused by, well, God’s development.
Sarah and Abraham decided to make their future (that God had promised) through means that seemed reasonable to them.
Result: Ishmael and the battle in the middle east to this day. However, God’s results were not circumnavigated. Neither was his timing. God was no less in charge, and He still brought about Isaac and his progeny. God was not shocked, nor was he thwarted by Abraham and Sarah’s mistake.
Bad decision #2: Israelites chose not to go into Canaan when they had the chance. Result: That generation didn’t go in, but the next one did. God was not thwarted by Israel’s mistake. His plans still came about.
Result: That generation didn’t go in, but the next one did. God was not thwarted by Israel’s mistake. His plans still came about.
In both situations, the participants willingly went against what God told them. They chose to walk in unbelief.
PANIC: Even as I describe those situations part of me wants to panic. Afterall, there were bad results. I don’t like bad results and want to be good enough to avoid them. Yet, that still small voice whispers – “do you think God is not aware that humans are fallible? Could it be that He uses the bad situations to mold and shape people to be more like Him, and to have His wisdomr?”
Bad situation: Joseph – first in slavery, then in prison. Anyone who reads this story needs to hear Joseph’s faith – he never stopped trusting God, even when the dream he had been given looked impossible. He still believed that God gives dreams (see his conversation with the cupbearer and cook). God used that very bad decade or more (12 years, I think) to develop Joseph into someone who could manage all the resources of Egypt and save millions (my guess) from famine.
Being in a middle space means that you are learning to maintain your balance in what feels like a precarious situation. You have memory of the past, and a hopeful eye on the horizon, looking for firm ground. It is normal to feel out of balance and a bit “off” during transitions. But, we can live in belief. We can choose to stop the panic and walk in the faith that God is in charge. He is bigger than other people, He is bigger than circumstances, He is really in control and will cover my inadvertent errors. Even when I purposefully go against His direction, He will bring about His will for my life. I can trust in that.
What about you? What pushes your panic buttons, and how do you maintain the perspective that God is in charge? Let’s start a conversation in the comments below.
1 Vanderstelt, Jeff (2017-02-14). Gospel Fluency: Speaking the Truths of Jesus into the Everyday Stuff of Life (p. 20). Crossway. Kindle Edition.