Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Who's Planning the Party?!?

"Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, 'If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.'”--James 4:13-15 NIV

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”--Jeremiah 29:11 NIV

"But you'll welcome us with open arms when we run for cover to you. Let the party last all night! Stand guard over our celebration. You are famous, God, for welcoming God-seekers, for decking us out in delight."--Psalm 5:11-12, The Message

Why is it that we as humans always think we can do things better ourselves? How could we possibly think that we as mere creations know better than the completely omnipotent and entirely omniscient Creator? Why do we think that it’s OK to map our entire lives out—right down to the exact year we’ll get married and how many children we’ll have—years and years in advance? We do so fully expecting that God will just go along with our ideas, show up and bless the party of a life we’ve planned!

Over and over the Lord has to teach me that life in Christ is best lived with I allow HIM to plan the party of my life and I just follow along, and “show up” as He directs me to. God has had to teach me this so many times—sometimes with subtle, gentle lessons, and more often (because of my own selfish stubbornness)—harsh and painful ones.

My mom tells me that one of the first phrases I learned to say was “by I self! By I self!”! Guess that pretty much says it all…I’ve been a self-motivated over-achiever since day one. I even shudder when I’m assigned a group project in school or any time when I’m required to work on a team to accomplish a goal. Why, you may ask? Well, it’s because so often there are those in my group or on my team that fail to “pull their own weight” and I end up having to do their part of the project. A few bad experiences such as this in life have made me reluctant to relinquish control over my achievement of the goal—or the obtainment of a good grade—to the others on my team.

Such behavior is arrogant and prideful enough when it involves other people, but infinitely more so when I begin to believe the lie that I know better what’s good for me that my Heavenly Father does. While I may not admit that this is so, my behavior betrays me when I am surprised the minute my life does not go according to my plan! How many times I have surrendered my life to Christ…and then un-surrendered it! How many times I have given a particular struggle or burden over to Him, just to turn around and take it out of His hands later! Why is it that I can’t leave what I give Him at the foot of His cross, walk away, and never go back to get it?

The Bible instructs us to hold loosely to the things of this life. It’s when our fingers get “sticky” and clutch tightly to our possessions, abilities, responsibilities and blessings that we get all tangled up in pride, selfishness, arrogance, and self-reliance. Martin Luther once said: “I have held many things in my hands, and have lost them all; but whatever I have placed in God’s hands, that I still possess.” What is it that the Lord is trying to pry out of your hands? What is it that you just won’t relinquish control of? Have you ever stopped to think why? Do you truly believe that you can manage your life better than the One that gave you life to begin with?

Most of us don’t consciously set out to take the reigns of our lives from the sovereign hands of the Lord. It just happens—because it’s a part of our sin nature to want to be in control. Yet if we rely on the strength God is ready and willing to provide us, we can place every aspect of our lives in His very able hands—and leave it there—permanently. This doesn’t mean we won’t be tempted to go back and pick it up, and do things our way once again. Instead, by being ever aware of our tendency to want to control and plan our lives, we are acknowledging our utter dependence upon our gracious God. We have nothing that He did not give us. And should He choose, this very instant, He could take it all away. He owes us nothing—except death—and just think of all His gives us! Everlasting life in salvation, ever-abundant mercy and grace each day, and ever-ready forgiveness for every sin we’ve committed and will commit from now on—and innumerably more blessings!

So just sit back and think for a moment. Who’s planning the party? I guarantee you it’ll be so much better if you let God have the job of managing your life and you keep the responsibility of following where He leads. You can’t take His hand if both of yours are filled with burdens and cares. So let go, look up, hold on and let Him have His way. It’s going to be the best party ever.

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