I have dirt under my fingernails constantly from scraping for control in a world where I have learned in recent weeks I maintain very little. Yes, this is a bleak sounding way to start off a post. I promise the light will crack through because it always does and often in unexpected ways.
Earlier in the summer while barefoot playing on our back deck my daughter spotted a tiny cracked bit of blue. It was a robin’s egg lying among the remains of a nest on the ground near our house. She was fascinated and for days talked about the broken egg and I knew in the back of her brain she wondered where the bird was, the mama, the rest of the nest. How did it come to lie beneath the eve of our home?
When we wing our way to overseas homes there is a sense in which we want to make it look, smell, embody something of home for us. Rightfully so because it does matter we feel connected to who we are and where we have come from even when we are abroad. The problem is when our feet touch foreign soil so much of our ability to understand and maintain normalcy vanishes, slipping like so much sand between our fingers. It is really our ability to control that vaporizes before our eyes.
What if the lack of control is the thing making us more like Jesus? The God-man, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped. Oh, how Eve-like I am, always clawing at equality with God.
I had something super frightening happen to me recently. It was a health scare that came out of the blue and could have been fatal had we not caught it when we did. I won’t go into the details, but I will say the thing that led to figuring out what was wrong was the result of a random knee injury that aggravated an already torn meniscus a month earlier.
The knee injury was a source of real angst for me. It made me reroute the family hiking adventure I had longed for on my birthday. It caused me to hobble around like an arthritic person twice my age chasing an active four year old and a quick as lightning one year old. I was frustrated. I was annoyed. I moved my already planned knee surgery up 2 months because I just couldn’t make it through the hot North Carolina summer in so much pain.
Back up a bit. Did you see it? The thing that saved my life was the pain. The thing that saved my life was the thing I couldn’t control. Somehow God was controlling it and while I balked and bucked under my limited understanding and scraping to make it all right He was orchestrating something far better. He was literally working to save my life.
I heard author Shauna Niequist say in an interview this week that she had to learn, “…the discipline of leaving things undone in order to tend to my soul and spirit.” On a daily basis I fluff pillows, make to-do lists, run a business, feed small people who are ravenous every single second, and about a thousand things in between and when I sit down and breathe deep I still feel the weight of all I simply cannot do. It’s a deep struggle. Perhaps it is my deepest struggle.
I have found myself in total awe of the million Sovereign moments God ordains in a day. We crave security. We crave the comforts that build a facade of control. Sometimes those things come in the form of productivity or organization. Other times it comes in labels of what we like or what we think we are like. I have come to believe that the remedy to our desperate, screeching heart cry for control is to know deeply that we are loved by the God of a million Sovereign moments.
That’s what I learned a few weeks ago in the midst of an incredible break in my ability to control anything. I am deeply, unfathomably, wholly loved by the God of the universe. That’s why the Sunday following an emergency surgery that saved my life I wept as our pastor said while holding the cup and breaking the bread, “The most amazing thing in the whole universe is that I am loved by God.”
It is. It isn’t how productive you were for the Kingdom today. It wasn’t how well you parented through a tantrum this afternoon. It isn’t even how brave you are to follow a calling of your life to move to the ends the earth. It is simply knowing you are loved by God.
Because in that moment you open the palm face up to allow Him to control all. Like so many Monarch butterflies being released there is an uncaged wildness that can grow as we step foot fully into the calling God has on our lives knowing we are loved without reserve. We brave the world without pretense of control and with fully, widely and wildly knowing we are loved and He is tender to care for us.
I find myself still wondering about the tiny abandoned bird’s eggshell. A few weeks ago I was set free and I hope that little bird is somewhere flying free too.
It what ways do you find yourself scraping for control?
Where have you noticed God’s love in the sovereign moments He provides?