Who is God? NOT ME!
In 1985, I was 22 (for my era readers, cue the Jackson Brown song: “Runnin’ on Empty”). I had just tossed my college graduation cap into the air with my classmates, and had said my “goodbyes” to all my friends who had figured out how to “fix” the world along with me. We had subconsciously commissioned ourselves to get out there and make things better! My intention was to heal the world of hurt, one person at a time, with counseling.
My parents and I headed down the highway toward home and at the halfway point stayed overnight in a Hilton. We had a beautiful, leisurely dinner in the hotel restaurant...until...we became aware of some commotion at the bar. A woman had brought her baby with her and she was distressingly drunk. The police had arrived, somehow extracted the baby from her arms, and she was really making a scene.
We had been discussing the disruption at our table when the waiter came up, concerned that we were being disturbed. I had a strong desire to go help this woman, and the next thing I knew I was ushered into a hotel bedroom with the woman and I think a policeman or two. She was laying on the bed, continuing her wailing as loudly as she could. I made an attempt to talk to her and to comfort her, and she lurched up from the bed and yelled in my face “WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE?! GOD?!” I was so stunned, I turned and left the room. I think I ran. I was shaken by her accusation and how unhelpful I was. I felt like my Bachelor’s in Psychology degree meant absolutely nothing within hours of receiving my diploma. Granted, I was not yet a trained counselor.
That woman’s searing pain and her burning accusation that she spat at me has never left me. There was no need for me to answer her question. I was NOT God, and I felt powerless…at least in the way I was seeking to help or fix her. The desire to help certainly isn’t wrong. Having compassion on a person who is suffering is a good quality, but the inclination of my heart to think I am the one who can somehow heal a situation like that is misguided. Only God can untangle the messes we make of our lives.
A framed saying on my wall says “It is such a comfort to drop the tangles of life into God’s hands and leave them there.” When I returned from traveling a few weeks ago I unpacked my necklaces and several of them had become significantly tangled. It struck me how easily they became tangled, and in contrast were so difficult to untangle. The analogy wasn’t lost on me. Our relationships and our lives in general can become tangled up so quickly, and untangling takes a great deal more effort than it took to create the situation. Leaving the tangles of life with God doesn’t mean we don’t apologize, or work on creating healthier relationships, or doing whatever hard work we need to do, but it does mean surrendering our delusion that we somehow fix our problems at the deepest level all on our own. It also doesn’t mean we figure out how God can fix the situation…we let Him do that. It requires dependence on the Holy Spirit to do the heart-changing work of forgiveness within us, or turning a hard heart into a soft heart, or developing self-control where there is little to none, or training a soul to become other-centered rather than selfish.
Christians are to train their soul to turn first to God in every situation, and to trust Him with the difficulties we encounter. Proverbs 3:5,6 says “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your path”. We are to let God be God, and know that His ways are higher than ours, His thoughts are higher than ours. We should not pray the answers to Him, but rather should pray requests to Him and let Him work it out in His creative, loving, and wise manner.
Psalm 46:10 talks about what we are to be and what we are to know. It doesn’t say “be the answer” or “be the solution to another’s problems”. It doesn’t say “know that you are the one who can fix things” or “know that you are a god”. It says “Be still and know that I am God”. If you emphasize each word one by one, you see a different aspect of what God is conveying to His children.
“BE still and know that I am God.” (BE = a state of self. Not actively doing something, but existing in a state of presence before God).
“Be STILL and know that I am God” (STILL = focused. Waiting. Listening)
“Be still AND know that I am God” (AND = don’t just be still for the sake of being still, but for the purpose assigned)
“Be still and KNOW that I am God” (Know = confidence in this fact. Conviction. Assurance)
“Be still and know that I am God” (I = not you. Not me. HE is God. He is in control. He’s the one with the plan. He’s the one with power. He’s the one to do the work internally in someone’s heart. If He chooses you to be an instrument of His work of grace, that is a privilege, but don’t think He can’t do it without your help).
“Be still and know that I AM God” (AM = currently involved. Present. Active)
“Be still and know that I am GOD” (He’s our creator, the most wonderful counselor, the ultimate comforter, the Rock, the foundation, the cornerstone piece, our fortress, our refuge, the King of all Kings, our Savior, our friend, our Heavenly Father, our Prince of Peace, our mighty GOD).
When we really gaze at God in stillness before Him, we see the magnificence that we don’t see in anyone else. We experience His goodness, His peace, and the confident assurance that He is at work through perfect wisdom and timing. Let God be God. You be His child and trust and follow Him. When He needs you, He’ll give you an assignment that is fitting for who you are. You just have to trust His goodness and plan, and then obey (for all my fellow believers: cue the hymn: “Trust and Obey”).