God in a Box
by Donna Thompson
Years ago when I first moved to Houston, I attended a small Bible church for many years. At one point, our pastor began preaching on a doctrine that I had never studied and in fact, I was a little nervous about what he was teaching mostly because I knew so little about it. But that study caused me to investigate other teachings which resulted in several things, not the least of which was learning how easy it is to put God in a box and demand that He act a certain way.
I think very often we want God to be always loving, always forgiving, always gracious, always patient, always good and on and on. And while He is all those things and much more, He is also a God who wants to avenge us, a God who hates sin, a God who is jealous of anything we put before Him, a God who led His people into war, a God of wrath against those who malign His children or His word and His name. He is also a God who chose to send His only Son to die a horrible, painful agonizing death for sinful man, and we certainly did not deserve His grace and mercy. In other words, God is so huge in all His attributes that there is no way we can ever comprehend His greatness and all that it entails.
When I decided to get down to the nitty gritty of the doctrine that my former pastor was teaching, a dear friend asked if I wanted to listen to some tapes of another pastor who ascribed to this same teaching. I agreed to listen to a series of six sermons on the subject. I really approached this with an open heart and mind and prayed that the Lord would reveal whatever truth He wanted to reveal to me.
At the end of the series, this pastor made a comment that truly changed my entire thinking about my Heavenly Father and my God. He pointed out that he knew there were those sitting in the audience who probably did not agree with what he had been teaching, but then he made a statement that was so simple but made so much sense. He said that if God was indeed the Creator of this universe, then God can do whatever He wanted with this universe. In other words, we are entirely at the mercy of His good judgment and entirely powerless to change anything that God does. This is HIS world and we are HIS creation and thus, He truly is in total control of everything and He truly has the whole world in His hands.
That doesn’t mean that we are His robots. To the contrary, God made us with a will and the ability to choose right and wrong, to make our own decisions which may or may not include what He wants for us and He gave us common sense. But that never negates God’s sovereignty. We can veer from His intended purpose for us, but His intended purpose never changes. That idea doesn’t scare me - it is a comfort to me to know that regardless of what happens in this life that is full of joys and sorrows, celebrations and tragedies, that God is completely in control. My life may seem as if it is “out of control” at times, but God has not let go nor will He ever let go!
I am certain you have asked over the years as I have why things happen as they do. What purpose could there be in the death of a child, a lingering illness that causes so much pain, a tragic accident that paralyzes someone for life, a broken heart that seems to never mend. I think for many things we encounter there will be no answer until we stand before His throne. I believe that then we will know the reasons for everything, but I have to admit that being in the midst of those experiences without any answers is so difficult at times.
But it’s during those black holes of our lives that a small ray of light begins to peek through when we remember once again that God is in control. He is not in a box of our own making but rather He is above all, under all, over all and controls all and there is nothing that happens to us that has not first passed through His beloved hands. One purpose for hardships that we can always find to be true is found in the lyrics of that old song, “For if we never had a problem, we wouldn’t know that God could solve them.”
Let us all thank the Lord that we are one step closer to His Glorious Return with every moment that passes. Then let’s take a new look at who our Heavenly Father really is. I want to know Him, I want to embrace ALL of His character, I want to be able to trust Him fully with my life, my times, my comings and goings. I want to once again give myself over to His perfect will, knowing that the truth found in Psalms 37:23 is a promise I can always hold onto: ȁThe steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD: and he delighteth in his way.”
Let’s take God out of the box and let Him be who He wants to be in our lives. Let us delight in the ways of the Lord. For truly, when we delight in Him, He promises to give us the desires of our hearts. For when we trust Him with our lives, He implants in us a desire for the very things He wants us to have, which are certainly far better than anything I could choose. I don’t believe there is any greater gift we could give to the Lord this Christmas than our complete, unrestrained trust and devotion. Let’s all say with the prophet Isaiah -- “Here am I Lord, send me.”
“By the word of the LORD were the heavens made,
their starry host by the breath of his mouth.
He gathers the waters of the sea into jars;
he puts the deep into storehouses.
Let all the earth fear the LORD;
let all the people of the world revere him.
For he spoke, and it came to be;
he commanded, and it stood firm.
The LORD foils the plans of the nations;
he thwarts the purposes of the peoples.
But the plans of the LORD stand firm forever,
the purposes of his heart through all generations.
We wait in hope for the LORD;
he is our help and our shield.
In him our hearts rejoice,
for we trust in his holy name.
May your unfailing love rest upon us, O LORD,
even as we put our hope in you.”