Imagine the following scene:
An author sits down at his desk to write a story. It’s a story he’s been thinking about and planning for a long time. In his imagination, he’s carefully chosen the main character and knows everything about her – where and when she lives, what she looks like, what she does for a living, what her family is like, what she enjoys doing, and what she hates. The author knows all of the periphery characters as well, and has in mind how all of these characters will interact throughout the story, and what effect they’ll have on each other.
The author knows the story itself too. How it starts, the climax of it, and how it will end. He knows these things because he’s been thinking about this for so long. All that’s left to do is to sit down and write it.
He pulls out some paper and a pen (he’s old school), and he starts to craft an amazing tale of joy, heartbreak, sin, and redemption (fencing, fighting, torture, revenge, giants, mon…Oh, sorry, I got a little carried away there). It’s setting up to be an epic adventure. But then, all of a sudden, his main character starts to rebel. He writes a line, and finds her arguing with him about what he’s written. He writes another line, and watches as it gets erased right before his eyes.
“Look,” he says to his character, “I know what I’m doing. I know this story, just trust me.” The character apologizes, promises to cooperate, and hands back the pen. But as he continues to write, from time to time, his character again tries to take matters into her own hands, rewriting parts, erasing other parts, and adding things that make absolutely no sense in the broader arc of the story.
How do you imagine this story will finish? Probably in complete chaos!
That, in short, is Israel’s story. God blessed the nation of Israel with His very presence, He guided them, cared for them, and provide for them, but time and time again, they rebelled and did whatever they wanted. The book of Judges sums this up really well with its last verse:
In those days, there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes. ~ Judges 21:25
I can’t speak for you, but I can say this: It’s my story too. I’ve spent my entire life trying to control whatever I could, including God and everyone around me. From time to time, I’ve come to the realization I’m doing that, either because someone points it out, or, much more frequently, because things start to dissolve into chaos.
Whenever this happens, I get angry and find someone else to blame, never owning up to the fact that the only common denominator in these patterns is me. Eventually, I get so tired or things just get so bad that I confess my sin to God, ask Him to forgive me, and ask Him to take back the control of my life. But in time, the cycle starts all over again.
The book of Judges is a series of stories about how Israel kept taking back control of the pen, trying to write their own story, only to find themselves living in a chaotic world where “Everyone did what was right in his own eyes”. When they realized what they’d done, they would cry out to God and God, in His great mercy and unfailing love would send a rescuer – a judge – to deliver them out of their enemies’ hands. The judge then led the nation in a battle of some sort against whoever the oppressor du jour happened to be, Israel won, and “there was peace in the land for ___ years” while said judge lived.
But shortly after God gave the Israelites victory, they started doing their own thing again, and the cycle continued (often with really gruesome consequences…the Bible is NOT Rated PG!!).
The people of Israel knew the pattern they were in. They had books written about it and orators telling the stories of the past to current generations. They knew, but they kept thinking that somehow, this time would be different. It wasn’t for them, and it isn’t for us.
Whenever we think we know better than God and we grab the pen out of His hand to try to write our own story, we’re just repeating history.
But God wants so much more for us than control. He longs to give us a life of abundance, of peace, of joy, of adventure. He knows you better than you know yourself. He knows the story He wants to write on your life. And He knows that if we’ll just keep our hand off the pen, it’s going to be so good!
So how do we stop grabbing the pen? It’s simple: We trust God.
[Hahahahahaha!!! I’m hilarious! Ok. Sorry. I’m fine now.]
While that’s true, it’s nowhere near simple. If it were, we wouldn’t keep finding ourselves with ink all over our hands.
We all know we’re supposed to trust God, but some of us, myself included, have a really hard time doing that. We have things in our past that God allowed that we can’t understand because we don’t yet know the end of the story.
The Bible tells us that God is good, kind, overflowing with love for us, and that He does everything He does for our good and for His glory. But if you’re anything like me, these are facts stored away in your mind that you pull out whenever a friend is going through a hard time. But they’re not true to you because they haven’t made the trip from your head to your heart.
This was exactly my problem, I (very) recently (re)discovered. So I’m going on a search… I want to KNOW God, not just know a whole bunch of facts about Him. I want to be in relationship with Him, to take my place as His beloved daughter. I want to know Him so well that I have no problem letting Him write my story. So because I’ve been stuck in that maddening cycle for so long, I need to do some things I’ve never done before. And maybe you do too…
So, let’s help each other out:
How have you successfully moved knowledge about God from your head to believing God is who He says He is in your heart?