Lent Day 21: We Are Not in Control
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. 9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.
These words were spoken while Israel was in exile under Babylonian captivity. It was a place of despair and I am sure many dark days. There seemed to be no hope for a future in this land that was not their own, a very foreign and distant land.
When the days are darkest, and we have tried everything to fix it, or change it. It is in these moments that we are ready for the Lord Jesus to step in and bring about a change. We don’t have the answers or understanding that he does. He sees from the beginning to the end of things that we cannot see. In this moment he comes in the words above and says there is another way, and we can’t imagine what it would be, because we have tried everything. And that my friends, for you and me, is where we can start again. At the place where “He” knows where our future will begin again.
We are not in control, and that is the hard part, because we have to trust by faith and take a risk to trust in him who knows it all. Brueggemann cautions us on how we need to respond in this moment. “There is a way into the future in your life, because God is at work doing strange, wondrous things for you and in spite of you, and your job is to get your mind off your ways of need and control, to give your life over to God’s large, hidden way in your life.”
As Americans we have become so accustomed to depending on our own affluence, power and control of our lives as individuals, that now as Christians we continue to adopt the ways and thinking of America and not the ways of Christ. As the texts below us demonstrate there is another way to peace and joy.
12 I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. 2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
1 John 2:15-17
15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. 17 And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.
A man’s heart devises his plans, but the Lord directs his steps. The steps for Israel and for us are different than that of Babylon and America, as Brueggemann reminds us, “But none of that is for Israel, so say the poet. None of it is for the church. None of it is our proper way in the world.” So, we are invited to an alternative route, baptism and communion. “The wine of new covenant, capacity to risk and trust and obey, and then to find ourselves safe and joyous, close to God, and enlisted for a very different life in the world.”
2 Corinthians 5:17
17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.
“God of homecoming, be with us as we journey through Lent. May we learn to relinquish our old ways so that we are ready to receive your newness. Amen.”