Any given day brings me about eight million opportunities to completely lose my mind. I am not what people would call a“chill” person. I like to be in control. You know, have my day go exactly according to my plans. Is that too much to ask?
Apparently, it is. Not a day goes by that goes exactly as planned. If only I had learned to loosen my grasp by now.
I am so thankful for God’s patience with me and my control issues. I believe God can work with me, at least that’s what He says. Lately, I’ve felt him chiseling away, molding me into a person with open hands, ready to receive what He has for me. (Keep in my mind, only this past Thursday did I break down in tears after a day gone wrong.)
My pastor preached a sermon several weeks ago, focusing on Psalm 25. I’ll include some of the highlights, mashed together, below. But seriously, you should read the whole Psalm. Definitely worth your time.
1 To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul.
2 O my God, in you I trust
let me not be put to shame;
let not my enemies exult over me.
4 Make me to know your ways, O Lord
teach me your paths
5 Lead me in your truth and teach me,
for you are the God of my salvation;
for you I wait all the day long.
8 Good and upright is the Lord;
therefore he instructs sinners in the way.
9 He leads the humble in what is right,
and teaches the humble his way.
12 Who is the man who fears the Lord?
Him will he instruct in the way that he should choose.
13 His soul shall abide in well-being,
and his offspring shall inherit the land.
14 The friendship of the Lord is for those who fear him,
and he makes known to them his covenant.
God wants to confide in us His plans, His thoughts, His way of whimsy. If I am being honest, most of God’s ways do not fit into my bullet lists, color-coordinated closet, or daily schedules, all neatly written out. One of my favorite authors, Shannan Martin, always refers to God’s ways as the “weird way of Jesus,” and I think that is a fitting phrase. His ways are never neat or normal. He did things like dine with people no one else liked, call the accepted religious views of the day heresy, and meet with large groups of people right when He was the most exhausted. Since Jesus was the living flesh of God’s ways, I know that when He confides in me His covenant and teaches me his paths, it’ll look something like the “weird ways of Jesus” and will probably totally rock my illusion of control.
However, perhaps dishevelment is exactly the life to which I am called. I’ve been standing on the sands of my imagined control. Whenever a wave from the day washes up, the sand moves quickly from beneath my feet. Looking down, my mind spins. At the end of my day, duct-taped together with my efforts to maintain control, my head hits the pillow weary. My grasp on life only leaves me exhausted from an effort to do the impossible.
Psalm 25 has been seeping into my bones, immersing me in truth. I just can’t get over it – God is offering us His friendship! He says he will lead the humble and instruct sinners. He doesn’t say “I’ll teach the people who think they have it all together. The ones who never screw up. The ones with the perfectly-executed plan and schedule.” I get the picture that He likes people who can admit they are a control-freak and realize it’s ridiculous to even imagine control, that this confession is a sign of humility. And when I am exhausted and react as I shouldn’t and get frustrated and selfish, He says He’ll instruct me, a sinner, in His ways. What a sweet relief! And when I acknowledge He is Lord of all, at the helm, he confides in me His covenants, reminds me of His promises, teaches me His ways.
This conversation with God is already happening, at least on His part, but I must choose to make space to listen. I am in need of this conversation. I want to know His ways, see what He sees, hear what he hears because, honestly, if I have it all MY way, I miss out on a whole lot of beautiful, weird, miraculous disruptions.
I don’t know how to listen well, or loosen my grip on life, or simply trust that I can take one moment at a time, but I have been praying this Psalm almost every morning.
If God is talking, I want to listen. He is a better guide than my reactions, stress, or attempts at control.
Jesus, teach me Your ways, show me Your paths, instruct this weary sinner, and confide in me your secrets. Be a friend to whom I love to listen, and take my hand as I walk in Your weird ways.