Give It to God?

How many times has some well-meaning Christian friend or advisor told you that?

You can’t control it, so just let it go. Trust God. He’ll handle it.

Does that rankle your nerves as it does mine? I hate being told that, and I hate hearing that seeming cliche come out of my mouth to another believer.

It’s a common response to a painful situation that we don’t know what to do with. When someone we know is forging through the aftermath of a senseless loss, trying to survive a betrayal or struggling to overcome a recurring sin, we often don’t know what to suggest. That’s because we are as fallible as they are. We are as fragile as they are. Even if we have crossed that particular bridge before, replaying our story and offering our solution often comes out with an air of superiority or false empathy.

Recently, I sat across the table from a gentle mentor who said no such thing. In fact, I am amazed that she sat with me for nearly two hours, listened intently  to my pain, watched my public display of agony and never once said, “Oh, I’ve been there too. I know exactly how you feel.” It was after those soothing hours of verbally releasing my hurt that I told my journal, “I think I finally know what it feels like to ‘give it to God.'”

 It’s like flipping the latch on my own cage. I had been chained to stare at my pain. Like a canary in a tiny cage, able only to watch the cat threaten and mock him. All along, the vulnerable little bird had the power to flip the latch and not only avoid the anguish of mediating upon his impending doom, but to fly away to safety. When he discovered that latch and flipped the lever, the pain didn’t go away. In fact, the pain could now leap with even greater possibility at his feet. But also, he now had the indisputable power to fly higher and farther away than the pain could ever reach.

 

My Way or the Highway

When I was a little girl, I was an unconscious legalist. My good-Christian parents had chosen to homeschool their four girls. Like most kids, products of our environment, we assimilate what our parents, our peers, the adults we respect, the world around us – what everyone else does as the way things should be done.

 

My wonderful mother ground her own whole wheat into flour and made healthy homemade bread. We grew up active – swimming, playing outside, watching very little TV. I didn’t realize that I was building a moral code based on my observations. Even worse, I didn’t realize that I was equating all of these good things with the “good works” that God had created me for.

 

Let me explain, here’s what my pre-adolescent mind deduced: all Christians make their own homemade bread, all Christians call the television the boob-tube, all Christians homeschool their children, all Christians eat dinner together as a family and require their kids to drink a full glass of 2% milk every night.

WRONG!

 

That’s what Will Davis’ chapter 6 in, “10 Things Jesus Never Said,” addressed.

The Lie 

If it’s wrong for you, then it has to be wrong for everyone else.  If God requires you to do it, then every other Christian has to do it too.  If we’re not all completely uniform in our Christian beliefs and practices, then someone is out of line.  If other’s aren’t acting, worshiping, and believing exactly as you do, then they’re not good Christians.  Maybe they’re not Christians at all. 

 

That’s harsh, and few believers would agree that they think this way, but, if our actions reference our true beliefs, then most of us have been caught in the act. My examples above are pedantic, thoughts of a school girl.  But they are none-the-less indicative of how we often treat other believers. To this day, I have to remind myself that my husband was not brought up to believe that the television is inherently evil – it’s OK to watch more than 30 minutes a day.

 

Now, before you think that I am saying, “Anything goes, do whatever makes you happy,” let me emphasize: I am talking about debatable issues. The Bible is not ambivalent to our behavior. There are non-negotiables: all human life is valuable, stealing is wrong, God’s name is sacred, homosexuality is a sin, sex outside of marriage is wrong, and Jesus Christ is the only way to the Father are a few examples. But truthfully, God did not prescribe a certain number of hours of television. He never said “homeschool thy children.” God does not approve of one church denomination over another.  (In fact, it is my opinion that God would rather we didn’t have denominations, but that’s another article.)

 

Davis concludes this chapter, as the others with, Come to Me, All You Who are Weary and Burdened. To paraphrase his final paragraphs: God enjoys all kinds of music and God doesn’t have a favorite color.

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