The Giver God
Posted in Chatter
(Preview: January Chatter Letter from the Editor)
It’s funny how at the beginning of 2012, we’re thinking about the end of civilization.
Or maybe it’s just me.
Do you ever get fatalistic this time of year? Where has the time gone, what have I done with my time, who have I been becoming in the meantime, and why didn’t I lose that last 10 pounds in time? The temptation for disgruntlement and melancholy can be hard to resist. If it’s not difficult for you, let me ask: what did you accomplish in 2011? Did you live the kind of life you are proud of? Was it one for the record books?
Ah, but don’t let me lead you there. Those questions are all based on a false premise, one we believe so easily it slips by us like moments and years: that we have either accumulated or lost out, either accomplished or failed, either made a mark or faded into the background. It’s a premise that suggests we don’t already have all we could ever want or need already (Phil. 4:12). That we haven’t been equipped for every good work (2 Cor. 9:8), that we don’t have a God capable of doing unimaginable things (Eph. 3:20), or that it’s up to us to validate our existence in the first place (Titus 3:5).
Here’s a little exercise you might try. Write down your dreams and goals for 2012, the ones you didn’t do in 2011 or the new ones knocking around your soul, and just…imagine. Imagine what it would be like to fit into those jeans, to hold that trophy, to stand at that podium. Feel the warmth of that. Picture it. Then ask, “I wonder why this hasn’t happened for me yet?” Then ask, “Have I been faithful in these pursuits, relying on God’s strength and seeking his kingdom first?”
If the answer is yes, then you will have your dreams in a heartbeat. If it is God’s best for you. And for the world.
There’s always a catch, isn’t there?
He owns the cattle on a thousand hills (Psalm 50:10); he sets up kings and deposes them (Daniel 2:21). He owns it all and he delegates all responsibility everywhere, for all times. It’s all his. And in a sense, it’s all yours too, right now, this very moment, because you’re his child, living on his estate. Let that sink in: everything in your wildest dreams is yours, in the other room, down the hall, around the corner.
Well, it’s all yours and it all isn’t yours. It’s not not yours, at least for now. If you are meant to take care of those heads of cattle for a time — be prodder, brander, rancher — you won’t have to strive and struggle and worry your way to achieving that dream.
It’s all yours, but it’s all his to assign.
I know it’s tough. It really is. It’s hard to relax in a Good Father who gives gifts to his children even as he woos a dying world. But just think, your disappointment and setbacks and struggles and unmet expectations might just be what’s required for someone else to find God — to find wholeness. Restoration. To enter the estate.
It’s a squirrelly jigsaw puzzle, this business of God’ sovereignty, and sometimes you don’t get to be the corner piece. Sometimes you’re the beige piece in the meandering middle and you can’t see how you matter.
But there is great joy when we take time to linger, looking at the face of our redeemer, who works in us — little us! — to do his work of world restoring.
So forget the gifts, for 2012 at least. We have the Giver.
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