Monday, November 12, 2012

Resting in God's Sovereignty

You rarely notice a significant moment until it has passed. It’s only in the pondering that you realize its importance.

I was helping with Vacation Bible School. My task was to help herd a group of elementary schoolers (who are now adults) from chapel time to Bible story time to game time to snack time. Along the way I noticed another woman had joined us, but I was too distracted to think much about it. She was a member of the church, and I assumed she had shown up to lend a hand.

Then the VBS director came to the door. “Jane*, what are you doing here? We need you downstairs.”

Jane smiled. “I felt led to stay up here.”

I’ll admit, I was impressed by that statement. I assumed she must be really in tune with the Holy Spirit to readily interpret such a calling. The director, however, was having none of it.

“No, you’re committed to help downstairs. That’s where you’re supposed to be.”

I honestly can’t remember what happened next. My attention was probably drawn away by a rowdy child or spilled cup of Kool Aid. The conversation, however, stayed with me for a long time.

I’ve tried many times to write about this subject, particularly this incident. I alluded to it on my on blog in posts concerning an especially trying season after we moved to our current town.

You see, for far too long I imagined that God had plan for me that I might miss if I wasn’t careful. I worried that the sense of dread that I felt before a trip was God warning me that disaster would strike if we left home. I assumed that the sudden thought to go check on the baby was a signal from the Holy Spirit that he might be choking or suffocating. If I awoke in the night I imagined that it was a sign that I was to listen for an intruder.

It’s an exhausting way to live one’s life. What started as an earnest desire to follow God and please him had morphed into a terrifying superstitious existence. (Since the worst of it occurred during the pregnancy/postpartum/toddler years, which in my life was 1996 through 2003, I assume it was partially fueled by hormones and aggravated by lack of sleep.) Hormones or not, though, it revealed my fearful heart and my mistaken belief that God required my help.

But it wasn't always negative things. Many times I felt a strong desire to do something big for God. Something risky and exciting, and yes, often more glamorous than the everyday things I was already doing. I don't recall ever feeling "led" to do the laundry or dust the furniture. Like the woman at VBS who felt called to abandon the mundane but necessary task of working in the kitchen, I wanted a holy stamp to apply to my own wishes and desires. Sometimes, though, it takes more courage to persevere where we are.

I’ve now learned to rest hard on God’s sovereignty. I no longer worry that God is laying out a proverbial trail of popcorn that I’m supposed to notice and follow. If I feel lack of peace about going to the grocery store, I realize that I’m probably dreading the long lines and large bill, and no longer fear that God’s trying to tell me the store’s roof is about to collapse and I better stay home. And while the desire to write is always with me, I can't abandon my primary calling as wife and mother.

When I write about this new peace, however, I can’t help but feel that I’m not communicating it adequately. It tends to come across as coldhearted and Mr. Spock-like: Just use logic! List the pros and cons!

But it’s not like that at all. I feel closer and more in tune with God than ever before. The difference is that I no longer worry that I have to see God’s plan ahead of time, I just trust that whatever happens he’ll see it though.

Trust God, submit to what’s revealed in his Word, and then rest in his sovereignty to work out everything for your good and his glory (Romans 8:28) by the counsel of his will (Ephesians 1:11)

*Not the real name


  1. Staci,
    Great story. I wonder if somehow we don't get taught that the this walk with God is somehow ideological instead of very practical. For me, I think I can use thinking in grand terms, instead of seeing God working through the mundane is a type of escapism. Youch! Not good.
    Thanks for the post.
    Grace and Peace,

  2. This is why I love you guys! I am so thankful for the Out of the Ordinary blog!

  3. "I don't recall ever feeling "led" to do the laundry or dust the furniture." Me neither Staci! Haha!

    I don't think you're cold or Spock-like one iota. These words are practical and wise. The church had fallen to superstition the past couple of generations largely because it abandoned sound doctrine regarding the inerrancy of Scripture and the sovereignty of God.

    Great post!

  4. I have had that experience many times over...the vague feelings of dread and/or impending doom. Maybe we shouldn't take this trip, maybe I should do this or that later/earlier.

    One of those times I was foolishly doing a writing "assignment" wherein I was to pray and then write the response as lead by the Spirit. What a disaster! I was postpartum and smack dab in the middle of a "dark night of the soul." Would you believe God told me I was going to die!? I can laugh now but at the time I was panic stricken as I had a newborn and a toddler.

    I still struggle with this some. Being an introvert, my feelings, good and bad, seem to be fairly intense. It helps to know I'm not the only one and that it is possible to have peace in this area.

    1. "Being an introvert, my feelings, good and bad, seem to be fairly intense."

      I'm the same way. I think that's why some of us are more prone to go off the deep end than others when we hear this kind of teaching.

  5. My mom forwarded this blog to me and I can't even begin to say how helpful it is to read this and see someone going through the same exact thing I am. I just got off the phone with my husband, practically crying my eyes out because of a huge decision we have to make and I just want God to give me a sign and tell me the right answer...because you get to feeling like "This isn't just a simple no or yes situation...I HAVE to get this right! What if I screw everything up!?" and that is such a huge burden, I am burdened by "I have to get what God is saying to me RIGHT or everything will fall. How long do I have to wait for a sign? Am I doing this right? Am I being "quiet" enough?" And then I go "oh...was that a sign or am I making things up? Am I telling myself what I want to hear?" And then I get angry at God for not making the right decision clearer to me "When I WANT so much to do the right thing for You why are you holding the answer back from me?" :-D
    So yeah...sent this to my husband and this won't be the last time I read this. I am pretty sure I will need reminding quite often.

    1. God bless you Sarah!

      "Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him, and he will act." Ps 37:5

      "The steps of a man are established by the LORD, when he delights in his way;" Ps 37:23

      When you make your final decision you can have complete confidence knowing that it is God's will for you. Even when we knowingly do things we shouldn't do, God still allows those things for our good in the end. But how much more then can we have peace when we want to honor Him.