Do you see what I did there?!? I willingly called myself a housewife!!! #GROWTH #IMGONNABESOHOLY #SUPERHUMBLE Anyway, if you remember a few weeks back I set out to write this post and then got waylaid by the whole, "Wait, being a housewife is not good enough," thing. Isn't it funny how God works? And by funny I mean not funny because He makes me look myself square in the eye and He asks me, "If you write about this I need you to really understand that your reluctance to step into being a housewife shows me that you actually do not understand my sovereignty. So why don't we have a rap session about that and then you can tell people what you learned. PS. It will hurt me more than it hurts you, but its going to hurt, remember the cross? PSS. Remember how pruning is good? PSSS. I love you." Got it Lord, thanks. Then in the unfolding I learned how the God of the universe is sovereign over everything from housewives to weather to galaxies to everything in betwixt.
First, I want to define God's sovereignty. I find that when you are talking about words in the bible people get really weird and think that normal grammatical rules don't apply. Really? Our God is the God of order. He for sure is going to apply proper grammar rules to his ALL POWERFUL WORD!!!! Anyway, I used my super fancy Logos software and did a search for the word sovereign or sovereignty in the bible. The word, or version of it is used 294 times in the bible. When a word is used that much in the bible it is easy to define because you just see how it is used and what the context is and wham bam, you know what the definition is. So collectively the definition is as follows:
sovereignty. The possession of ultimate authority and power. In political theory the state is often regarded as sovereign, while in theology, sovereignty is a characteristic of the all-powerful, all-knowing Creator, who governs the universe for his own purposes.
Evans, C. Stephen. Pocket dictionary of apologetics & philosophy of religion 2002 : 110. Print.
My understanding of His sovereignty comes from the fact that I believe God is the ultimate authority and power over the universe. I believe that everything is under His control. I don't believe in chance, or karma. If I have a flat tire, God is in control of that. He decided I needed a flat tire. If I hit every green light and arrive 5 minutes early to something, God is in control of that. He decided I need to be early. To believe this requires me to believe in a BIG GOD! And He is a BIG GOD. He tells us that all through the bible.
I realize this topic strikes up debates between differing groups of christians. I take no part in that. You can ask me all day long if I am a TULIP Calvinist, Arminian, a Three Pointer, or an Augustinian. I will answer, "I love Jesus, and I am whatever He is so lets ask Him when we get there." I am pretty sure that is how Jesus will decide what softball team we are on in Heaven. "Oh you are tulip, and also a 3rd baseman? Great, head over to field 3, your team is playing the 3 Pointers today." For now, He is clear in His word. He is the sovereign authority over everything and His parting command was to love Him first, and love our neighbor as I love myself. His parting commission was to go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, and teach them to obey the Lords commands. I don't know about you, but I am going to focus on that.
When I first became a Christian I did not understand God's sovereignty at all. I wanted to be on the path He made for me, I just didn't know anything about God yet so I had no direction. When I don't know what to do I am really good at making stuff up. I formulated in my mind an idea about Gods' sovereignty that looked like this.....
I thought it was something you had to divine from the Lord. I thought you had one chance to get on the path and if you screwed up and made a wrong turn you were off the path. I started to become hyper vigilant for a sign from the Lord. I went so far as to ask other people, whom I thought were very holy, to pray about me joining a ministry to see if they "saw" me in the ministry or not. Does anyone else get their theology from pop culture? Sometimes I think my syncretism of pop culture and following the Lord is such a deficit then I remember, "Oh wait, I can always be used as a bad example."
The problem with trying to follow a path laid down by someone you don't really know is that you have no idea what they are going to do or how they roll. So the more vigilant I got about looking for signs and trying to stay on the path of God's sovereignty the more I was convinced that I was off the path and not capable of seeing the signs. It left me feeling like I had missed out and that I was lost. I knew God was good, and I saw Him leading friends of mine to amazing things, but I was never sure enough to take a step because I could not see the yellow brick road.
So then, in His kindness, He saw me drowning in this and rescued me. I was sitting in class one day and our Professor, Scot Keen, drew a long line across the dry erase board. He said, "This is not how God's Sovereignty works, you are not on tight rope, trying to keep your balance so you don't fall off." I fully tuned in at this point because I was sure He was about to tell us where the yellow brick road started! He said, "God's sovereignty is like an ocean that you can never get out of. You are in a boat and you can steer where you want to go, but you are always in the water no matter what." Does your brain hurt like mine does right now? These are deep thoughts and our human brains have a hard time understanding this amazing idea.
God's sovereignty is not a path or tight rope that I have to worry about staying on. I am never ever out of sovereignty because He is in absolute control over everything. I have the freedom to make choices. I can go left, I can go right and I am always in God's sovereignty because there is nothing out of His control. He made it all (from galaxies to ants) and he controls it all (from seasons to traffic). I can make a choice that doesn't reflect my belief in God and I am still in the sovereignty of God. I can make a choice that does reflect my belief in God and I am still in the sovereignty of God. Good things happen to me because of His sovereignty and bad things happen to me because of his sovereignty. I am never ever out of His sovereign control. This is important and I want to come back to it later.
The problem with me thinking it was a path is that anytime I thought I was off the path I felt like God was not happy with me, and that I was lost. Anytime something bad happened to me I thought it was God telling me I was not on the path. Suddenly, I couldn't move forward or backward or left or right for fear of being off the path. This is not how it works, praise the Lord. I was confusing sanctification (a $5 word for learning to walk with the Lord) with God's sovereignty. Nothing, no wrong decision, or wrong step can take you out of God's sovereignty. Also, who wants to believe in a God that can accidentally lose us? "Where did Sarah go? She was right here on her way to the homeless shelter and then she went the wrong way and I lost her! She must have seen a sale at Nordstrom's. Well, she was a cool chick, that's too bad! She reminded me so much of Lara Croft Tomb Raider. I wish I hadn't lost her." That is not a very powerful God.
That is not the God I believe in. The God I believe in is in control of all life. There is no one who is so far gone that He can't see them and work in their life. This is so important because our bad decisions and bad things that happen make us believe that God has deserted us or is no longer with us. The truth is that all the bad stuff is meant to drive you into His ever open arms. It's meant to show you that you are not in control but that God is in control. Understanding that you can never get out of God's sovereignty, no matter what you have done, no matter how unloveable you think you are, no matter how many drugs you have taken, no matter how many people you have hurt makes you finally take His offering of salvation. And in his sovereignty He will never force you to love Him. He wants you to love Him, He will use all your circumstances to show you how much you need him. Through His son he made the way for us to not just be in the ocean of His sovereignty but be in His family and know Him personally.
Now as I walk through my day it is no longer a matter of divining His path for me, it is living out my belief that He is in total control over everything that happens. I believe that if I get a flat tire, God allowed it to happen and that He is still Good. I believe that if plans change, God allowed it to happen and that He is still Good. And so on, and so on. Now, acting like I believe these things falls into that category of sanctification--and that is a story for another blog post.