I love to have control of things. Seriously, it’s a bit of a compulsion or reflex. So much so, that I don’t even realize it usually. It doesn’t come in the form of me yelling, “Hey you, do this my way!!” to the people in my life. It usually comes in the form of me just doing things myself, without asking for much input or assistance. It can sometimes be a strength. More often though, it’s definitely a weakness.
So in moments like last week, where my better half has scheduled to take a couple days away with some friends from college, I plan the weekend accordingly. I create a schedule in my head of the hours she’ll be away, and do my best to fill them with things that the kids love (but let’s face it, they each also meet the requirement of “easy for dad to handle”). Kill a few hours wandering around a mall? Check. Buy new dresses at an inexpensive consignment store after having fun trying them on? Check. Fall asleep on the way home? Check. And so the time flew by with a full Saturday as well. I was even able to get a few errands run, and tasks done around the house.
In their minds, there was an illusion of the children being in control. After all, they got to lead me around the mall to places we weren’t going to spend any money. They selected which horses to ride on the carousel I just happened to have 3 tokens for. They even got to pick what dresses they wanted from the ones I took off the rack for them. 🙂 See what I mean?
It was most obviously seen as we explored the grocery store, with the younger two in the little car attached to the front of the cart. I would steer the cart, and they would respond by turning the wheel in the direction I was going. Mimicking the experience of actually driving their car around the store, they had a blast and made all sorts of attention-getting sounds to go with it.
I enjoyed it to, laughing at their noises and picking up a gallon of milk while I was at it.
You may be smiling, thinking about how awesome my kids are. I am too. But I want to point out briefly that unfortunately, that’s the view many people have of God and His involvement in our lives.
Sure, He lets us steer the plastic wheel that’s not really attached to anything – but He’s the one ultimately pushing the shopping cart. Sure, He’ll let us look at all the options in the shopping mall of opportunities, but He’s ultimately the one who tells us where and when we can make purchases. See what I mean?
Certainly, God is omnipotent. Meaning He’s All-Powerful. Any force or power know and unknown to us – finds its’ source in God the creator. But He’s also loving, and life-granting. He has given us freedom to act and choose. He gave Adam and Eve the freedom to make their own decisions. He gives their descendants that same freedom today.
There are some people who treat God in the same way they treat some vague notion of “destiny”. “If it was meant to be, it will be.” “If God wants it to happen, it’ll happen.” “If God has made this happen, He’ll help me out of it.”…the list goes on. This creates a huge separation in our actions and our connection to the consequences. This gives permission for us to be released from a certain amount of communal confession and burden of Sin that we need to feel…in order to feel the need to approach His throne with humility – asking for His forgiveness & grace.
Certainly there are times and places where God desires something, and moves to ensure it happens. We’ve experienced this in our own lives. But we cannot allow ourselves to cheapen His Grace by cheapening the Freedom He gives us out of Love. He delights in our joy…where will you drive your shopping cart vehicle this week….?