Psalm 31 invites us to recognize when it is time to place a situation in God’s hands. Often times our desire to be in control, to determine the outcome of a situation, can make us soul-sick. No amount of planning and hard work on our part can determine the outcome of our loved one’s illness or surgery. And though we can do the hard work of pouring ourselves into our relationships, even doing therapy and counseling with our partner or spouse, ultimately whether they choose to do their part or to decide our relationship is over is up to them.
For me at least giving up that control and saying “God it is in your hands” is so difficult. I imagine it is because of ways I’ve seen people I trusted let me down, including myself letting me down. Also I’ve seen how the phrase “put it in God’s hands” has been misused by some to teach a learned helplessness in the language of faith to make people dependent on church leaders to tell them where to go and what to believe.
Yet there is a powerful truth in this phrase too. In truth, all you can control is your own choices and how you choose to react to situations. You can and should do all you can to bring positive, healing, liberating energy into the situations you face. You should do the most you can to bring the best of yourself to the table and to strive to be all you can be in life. But in the end of the day so much even with your contribution cannot be anticipated or controlled. This is why we must recognize that is not the false choice of doing nothing waiting for God to do it all for us, or it all laying on our shoulders. Rather God calls us to partnership. We do what we can, yet lay all of the situation in God’s hands.
I am reminded of a story a spiritual author from another religious tradition told. His little boy wanted a bike. He worked hard, did extra chores, did odd jobs in the neighborhood. He took all he earned and put in in a giant jar. After months of working he brought the giant jar. The boy beamed with pride. “Do I have enough to buy the bike, daddy?” He didn’t of course. The bike was a couple of hundred bucks and after many, many months he’d earned around $50. The dad, however, smiled and recommended a partnership. “You’ve worked so hard and I am so proud. Why don’t you put some of your money in, and I’ll help with the rest?”
You see ultimately it is such a partnership God invites us into. On our own we don’t have the strength, will, and fore-thought to navigate all that is before us. But God places in us sparks of wisdom, creativity, confidence, and compassion through the indwelling Holy Spirit. God calls us to do all we can – however seemingly feeble or insignificant in our eyes or others. God beams with pride at our efforts, and let’s us know “I’m here. I will also do what I can. Together, we can do this for you are never alone”.
Realize God calls you not to flounder alone and afraid, nor to wear yourself out doing more than you can. Rather God promises – I’m here. If you do what you can, I will do my part, which is even more. You are never alone. Together, we can do this.
I don’t know about you. But that’s good news to me.
Your progressive redneck preacher,