The Uncomfortable Truth

Control. We all want it.

From the first moment we open our eyes, we are striving to gain some control over our surroundings. We soon learn which actions evoke desired responses, and use these learned actions to influence our personal world.

As we grow up, we gain greater and greater control. We choose our own clothes. Decide what food we like. Choose our friends. Get a driver's license. Get a job so we can buy things for ourselves.

This natural progression towards independence is healthy. But when we begin to think that independence really does mean that we are in control of our life, our "destiny", that's when the problems start.

Some of us have been smacked upside the head with the uncomfortable truth--there is actually very little in life that we can control. And life can take away that illusion of control at any moment.

Cancer. Accidents. Sexual abuse or assault. Murder. Natural disasters.

There are so many things that could happen to remove the blinders from our eyes.

Once the blinders are gone, though, we want to find out who is to blame for it. If we aren't in control, then who is responsible for the horrible thing that just happened to us?

Everyone always says "God is in control." Well, if he is in control when we aren't, then he must be to blame, right?

Over two weeks ago, three young girls died in a grain truck in central Alberta, near my hometown. I didn't know the family personally, but I know many who did. I went to school with some of their relatives. And the emotional outcry that surrounded this tragedy was like nails being pounded into my heart.

The accusers screamed that the parents were negligent, that these girls should have been prevented from even being in that situation. The accuser in my heart echoed their words and pointed the finger at me.

The Bott family responded with such grace, though. And the right attitude--the one that I try to embrace.

They rejoice in the lives of their girls, although they were taken from this earth much earlier than anyone wanted. But they stood by their choices of letting the girls live life, rather than keep them in a bubble of protection from any and all harm.

The Botts know what our family knows--unless you live your life like David the Bubble Boy, there is no way to prevent you or your loved ones from encountering danger. (Even David didn't manage it for long.) Sitting wherever you are reading this, something unexpected could happen at any moment that would take the life of someone you know. And choosing to live in a bubble when you don't have medical need is an extremely selfish way to live.

I know. It sucks.

I'm not trying to be a Debbie Downer, here. There is more to this story.

Because this story is about relationships. And the issue of control.

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
— Jesus, Matthew 11:28-30 (ESV)

I have often found it ironic that God seems to choose to use the most broken of people to accomplish his purposes. But I think I finally understand why.

Broken people--the ones who acknowledge they are broken--are the ones who understand completely that we are not in control of our own lives. We are the ones who reach out to God because we have nothing left--we are broken clay vessels, and all of our contents have been emptied. He's the only one who can heal us and fill us up again.

And when God is filling up a person, that person is truly beautiful to behold. The influence they have is amazing and lovely. He shines out of all the cracks and holes and makes them glow.

God is in control. But he is not to blame. He simply allows the natural consequences of sin to occur.

If he was a bad daddy, he would put us in a bubble and protect us from all harm, providing for our every wish, so that we would be soft, weak, selfish people our whole lives.

But he's a good daddy. He didn't protect Abel from Cain's murderous rage, or his first children (Adam and Eve) from the loss of their son. He didn't protect his own son, Jesus, from the consequences of other people's sin, either--rather, Jesus deliberately came to bear those consequences so that we will not need to bear them ourselves indefinitely.

As I thought about this, I realized that God rarely (if ever) protects us from the consequences of sin--because we live in a sinful world. And I find it ironic that we are so good at figuring out who is responsible for things that go wrong, taking responsibility (or laying blame) for actions that lead to hurt--until something that has no obvious perpetrator occurs. Then it must be God's fault, right?

Or is it? Could a Good God deliberately hurt one person to teach a lesson to another?

I don't believe so. But he does allow sin to take it's natural course, because he is much more interested in having a relationship with us than he is in fulfilling our every hope and desire. And why call on God when we are under the illusion that we are in control of our own lives?

When the pain and hurt breaks and empties us--he's always there to heal us and fill us back up. He's in the business of making the broken beautiful. He's in the business of restoration. His loving actions and saving grace are what bring healing order out of sin's destructive chaos.

He really is in control. And he's waiting to make our brokenness beautiful.

I can't fix myself--I am way too shattered. So I am running to him and offering up all the broken pieces of my heart.

Are you coming with me?

Come As You Are

Crowder

Come out of sadness from wherever you’ve been
Come, broken-hearted, let rescue begin
Come, find your mercy--oh, sinner, come kneel
Earth has no sorrow that heaven can’t heal
Earth has no sorrow that heaven can’t heal

So lay down your burdens, lay down your shame
All who are broken lift up your face
Oh, wanderer, come home--you’re not too far
So lay down your hurt,
Lay down your heart,
Come as you are.

There’s hope for the hopeless and all those who’ve strayed
Come sit at the table, come taste the grace
There’s rest for the weary--rest that endures
Earth has no sorrow that heaven can’t cure

So lay down your burdens, lay down your shame
All who are broken lift up your face
Oh, wanderer, come home--you’re not too far
So lay down your hurt,
Lay down your heart,
Come as you are.

Come as you are
Fall in his arms
Come as you are

There’s joy for the morning--oh, sinner be still
Earth has no sorrow that heaven can’t heal
Earth has no sorrow that heaven can’t heal

So lay down your burdens, lay down your shame
All who are broken lift up your face
Oh, wanderer, come home--you’re not too far
So lay down your hurt,
Lay down your heart,
Come as you are.
Come as you are
Come as you are

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