“God gave you a brain; you need to use it!” That is an admonition I have heard with some frequency throughout my life, starting with my parents and extending into adult friendships. It certainly has the sound of reasonableness, and in our everyday lives, we tend to follow it. Most of us have some form of morning routine to get the day going, and make decisions throughout the day based upon changing circumstances and what seems the best course of action at the time. I like to think I am somewhat intelligent, and therefore able to handle these rudimentary things.
I tend to be a planer and list maker, and frankly receive a lot of comfort in working my plan and checking things off the list. Trouble happens with the onslaught of the unexpected, where the “to-do” list becomes so compromised that most of it is not accomplished. That is when panic – or at least stress – sets in.
Having walked with the Lord for a number of years, I now recognize that the fear/anxiety behind the panic, and all the physical symptoms that accompany stress, are not of God. Although I got myself into this mess, I seem powerless to get myself out…and I inevitably beg Him for help.
Several years ago, on the backside of one of these crises, the Lord spoke to my heart and said, “Now I would like to teach you a better way.” Having been around this mountain way too often, I was very agreeable, and waited expectantly for the “how to” download…which did not come in the way or the timeframe I expected. The Lord began a multi-year process in which I had to “unlearn” a number of things, and constantly choose Him instead of defaulting into what I had always done. Could it be that the Lord would actually like to be involved in when I go grocery shopping, and He cares about which store receives my business? If that is true, then how much more should He be the author of my “to-do” lists, or that big project at work?
God has demonstrated throughout scripture and time that He is very specific, and only He is qualified to order our steps because He sees all and knows all. The unfortunate thing is we forget that along with the importance of asking. Instead, we (I) enjoy being the captains of our own ships. We believe we are following God when we take directives from the Bible and apply them filtered through our intelligence. But if “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Heb 13:8), wouldn’t things go better if we simply allowed Him to be in charge?
The Israelites didn’t get this either. When God allowed them a king rule over them, the northern kingdom proceeded to select their own kings and leaders: “They set up kings without My consent; they choose princes without My approval. With their silver and gold, they make idols for themselves to their own destruction.” (Hosea 8:4)
I do the same thing: I start in the initial direction I believe God has given, but handle all the specifics myself – after all, the course seems obvious. And so, my idol is revealed: being in control of what I do and when I do it…to my own destruction.
So, how do we incorporate using the brain God gave us with turning over these seemingly simple/mundane details to Him? It is almost a no-brainer to do what seems best to me, but requires extraordinary effort to allow God to truly be LORD over every aspect of my life. It appears the most demanding intellectual work I can do involves the constant willful decision to allow God to be completely in control of me. Oh wait — Jesus said that!! “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.” (Matt 16:24)