I'm a control freak. When it comes to decision making, I am usually very mindful and cautious. I became a Christian at 19 (i'm 27 now) and just recently, have I realized that, unfortunately, I have had Jesus in a box in a specific way. What I mean is that I try to figure Him out... how He relates to me, what it looks like when He works something out or sets something up in life. More specifically, I need to know what He's working out for the future...am I making the right decisions? Do I think God would want me to do this, or go there, or do I feel like maybe He's opening this door to walk through? The list is endless.
Now be assured that these questions aren't wrong to ask nor unhealthy to ponder and apply to life, but man can they box Him in if you're a control freak.
I'm used to seeing Jesus before me. So much so that I've found myself waiting in Nashville 2 years too long, or taken aback when my twin sister's response to my thoughts on moving to LA from Atlanta were "Umm, that's a no-brainer Liz". I need to see Jesus ahead of me in my decisions so much so that when He started doing something a little differently in my life recently, I thought He had abandoned me.
I couldn't feel Him when I prayed. I couldn't see Him directly pulling me towards any door. I didn't see Him going ahead of me and waiting there. And then, after a late night conversation with a friend that went well into the morning, I realized that God hadn't abandoned me. By any means. He was leading in a different way. He was beside me.
I constantly live in the future and not in the present. And how tragic is that? How many fantastic sunsets have I missed...phone calls have a not made...soul-restoring walks have I not taken....sweet moments have escaped me...because I have God in a box? Because I need a head-light God who structures my life to where I have a menu every night and an alarm to go off in the morning.
God says that His word is a lamp unto our feet (Psalm 119:105) ....it's not a spotlight. You're not gonna see a mile down the road and definitely not into tomorrow. Nope, you've got about 3 feet of light to work with and God says that's sufficient for you. In fact, it's His best. And you might not see Him in front of you pulling your hand everyday. Or patting you on the back for every good decision you make. But what we do know is that His grace is sufficient for us, for His power is made perfect in weakness (2 Corin. 12:9), and Prov. 16:9 "In his heart a man plans his path, but it is the Lord who determines his steps." These truths aren't always going to show themselves in your life like you want or expect them to. And even though God can live in the past, present, and future.... you and I can't.
So today, it is my pledge to be happy with the now and the unknowing. To trust that God's goodness isn't dependent on my happiness or comfort. And to actually be a Christian who has faith.
I will end with a brilliant man's thoughts on faith,
An excerpt from "An Introduction to St. Paul's Letter to the Romans,"
Luther's German Bible of 1522 by Martin Luther, 1483-1546
"Faith is not what some people think it is. Their human dream is a delusion. Because they observe that faith is not followed by good works or a better life, they fall into error, even though they speak and hear much about faith. "Faith is not enough," they say, "You must do good works, you must be pious to be saved." They think that, when you hear the gospel, you start working, creating by your own strength a thankful heart which says, "I believe." That is what they think true faith is. But, because this is a human idea, a dream, the heart never learns anything from it, so it does nothing and reform doesn't come from this 'faith,' either.
Instead, faith is God's work in us, that changes us and gives new birth from God. (John 1:13). It kills the Old Adam and makes us completely different people. It changes our hearts, our spirits, our thoughts and all our powers. It brings the Holy Spirit with it. Yes, it is a living, creative, active and powerful thing, this faith. Faith cannot help doing good works constantly. It doesn't stop to ask if good works ought to be done, but before anyone asks, it already has done them and continues to do them without ceasing. Anyone who does not do good works in this manner is an unbeliever. He stumbles around and looks for faith and good works, even though he does not know what faith or good works are. Yet he gossips and chatters about faith and good works with many words.
Faith is a living, bold trust in God's grace, so certain of God's favor that it would risk death a thousand times trusting in it. Such confidence and knowledge of God's grace makes you happy, joyful and bold in your relationship to God and all creatures. The Holy Spirit makes this happen through faith. Because of it, you freely, willingly and joyfully do good to everyone, serve everyone, suffer all kinds of things, love and praise the God who has shown you such grace. Thus, it is just as impossible to separate faith and works as it is to separate heat and light from fire! Therefore, watch out for your own false ideas and guard against good-for-nothing gossips, who think they're smart enough to define faith and works, but really are the greatest of fools. Ask God to work faith in you, or you will remain forever without faith, no matter what you wish, say or can do.