The Royal Family and Control

Confession moment: I adore the British royal family. I like reading about them, watching films and documentaries on them. Maybe it’s the fascination with their structure and history that I just don’t see with our democratic structure here in the US. Or that I love the British in general.

I watched the news of Princess Kate’s third pregnancy announcement yesterday excitedly. Yay for other people having babies! I noticed on one news outlet’s coverage of the announcement they had the succession to the throne mapped out. With this announcement, Prince Harry (William’s brother, second son to Prince Charles) has now slid to sixth in line for the throne.

Something he has no control over-his birth order and the pregnancies of his sister in law- dictate what he will be able to do with his future. I can’t imagine that or what his desires might be, or how he is able to rectify that how dynamic.

I thought on that more as I read further into King David’s life in the Old Testament. He’d already incurred his own sons trying to overthrow his rule. Now as he lay on his deathbed word comes that his 4th son (one that in the natural succession line would take the throne) has decided to thwart his father’s-and God’s-plan for Solomon to assume the throne. He meets in secret with those who aren’t loyal to his father and then publicly sacrifices offerings to name himself the new king.

My thoughts went directly to questioning Abinojah and his crafty nature. He had no control over his father’s proclamation, or God’s larger plan. So instead of acquiescing to the plans he takes them into his own hands to manipulate and control. Then I saw a lot of myself in him…desiring to control his own life and what he felt was his. His life, his plan, his control.

Oof.

How hard is it to accept God’s plan when it’s not what you would’ve made for yourself? How difficult is it to rectify your desires and plans with God’s? What do we sacrifice in order to live within the authority of God Himself in every area of our life?

I know for me I’d much rather have the control and say so, being able to pursue the desires I deem worthy and good. But that’s not what God plans for us most of the time.  He wants good for us, but not on our terms and in our ways. It’s a life of bowing in submission to the throne, to the rule and authority of God Himself and how that looks in our life…and not in anyone else’s. It means realizing we cannot control which a Sovereign God controls.

It means that sometimes we are sixth in line to succeed and we must relinquish any idea that we can control that.

So What? 

You ever worry that maybe God got your plans and someone else’s mixed up? 

Maybe that He got busy with a lot of lives and plans that somehow yours was shuffled into existence in some other person’s life rather than your own? 

I struggled with that for a while, and there are days I think just maybe He flipped my life plan with another’s. Yet I was reminded that my concern is not with someone else’s life (and neither is yours with mine) but it is to be concerned with following Him. Even in that I shouldn’t be worrying over the next thing, the career plan or family plan but should be following Him with full attention. 

His will for me is sure, steadfast and promising. It flows out of Him and embodies every bit of Who He is, and not an ounce of what I think it should be. Yes, He encompasses the personality and gifts that He has given…but ultimately His will for my life is nothing short of obedience to Him. That’s it. It’s not worrying that someone else got that promotion even though they don’t attend church as much as you…or that they seem to be succeeding when you feel like it’s all turning up failures and hiccups. 

I look at Peter, our zealous brother of the Bible. I’m a lot like him some days, and even more so there at the end of John. When I feel like someone else is getting what was meant for me or is favored more than I, I point to them and say, “Hey but what about them??” This is after He’s told me what His will is for me, that He shepherds me and has guided me this entire time I say, but that’s not good enough for me. 

Christ’s response to Peter in at the end of John is the same for you and for me today, when we feel as though our concerns for His plan for others is overtaking us…”What is that to you? You follow me.” 

Oof. 

What if He blesses them and not me? What if they get the thing I desired in my flesh? So what if He does allow that for them? That’s exactly what He’s saying to Peter and to me. So what? I’m to follow Him, period, end of questioning, end of discussion. 

Christ has a mic drop moment with Peter, and if I’m honest, with me. When I heard those words shared by the Vice President of the company I work for, I couldn’t help but feel nudged by God too. Maybe you needed to hear them too today. That so what about them? Just follow Him. Concern yourself with following Him in what He has you in currently, where you’ve found yourself, and not so much about others and where He has them. 

Today may you say So What?  when the pokes of comparison, covetousness or jealousy attempt to sneak in. When concerns try to force their way into your life that are none of your concern, follow Him instead. Make Him the focus rather than the complaint. 

I have been wrestling with thoughts of “Is this it? Is this what the next 40 years will look like God?

And I wallow in it y’all. I find it pulls me into a darker existence, questioning circumstance, a future and not allowing any room for hope in the midst. At times it can be all-consuming, filling and overflowing within and out. Sometimes it is just a passing whisper of a moment.

But it is there.

In my mind, rolling about like a pinball that keeps banging off the bumpers, and never quite hitting the pocket to complete the round. Instead it gets bumped into prayer in a light hearted way, then stronger into a frustration and then a cry of desperation to God.

“IS THIS IT?!!?”

Then I read a small phrase, blinking or hurrying through reading would make me miss it. In fact I did until someone pointed it out. There it stands, maybe not mattering to you in Numbers 21:4, but hitting me so hard that I had to sit in it’s power almost breathless.

“But the people became impatient because of the journey.” (HCSB)

That’s it. The mic drop moment God had with me. Oof.

The Israelites had just come from battle, and the journey was growing longer as we all know if you’ve looked at Exodus, Numbers, Deuteronomy or went to Sunday School as a child. The journey was dragging on, and their impatience in it grew by the day.

Right there is where I see myself. Where I see the thoughts of “Is this what it’s like from now on?” I am the impatient one on the journey. He doesn’t want me focused on the next thing, the next goal or project or the bump in my career (or a completely new one). He wants me focused on His leading, just as He led them with a cloud through the wilderness.

There’s a covenant and a hope of eternity in the promised land, just as He did with the Israelites. But in this time, season, in the now? He desires none of that extra. He knows me better than myself, and that the extra tends to get made into idols that are worshiped rather than Him. Idols of work. Idols of distraction. Good things in and of themselves that I then fashion into false gods that sit on a throne that is only made for Him.

Just as it’s guaranteed that a journey will involved mountains, valleys, and plateaus there is also the guarantee of rest, or I simply wouldn’t continue. Just as they came to a rest after the battle at Mount Hor, time dwelling on our own desires for ourselves instead of resting in the Presence right before us allows for impatience to grow. It’s part of the journey to take a rest, to give time to re-energize before taking up your pack once more to journey. While we often have maps or trails that allow us to see the destination, the end point, I must realize and trust there’s an eternity on this path with Him. I already know the conclusion, as His promise is sealed. The means by which to get there-a relationship with Him, is the end as well.

While I grumble in the moment, asking “What now?! Is this it?” He’s saying “Am I not enough?” He wants this moment, this season, this life with Him, in His Presence more than anything else we could fathom. Because He wants us. He wants good for us. He wanted a relationship with us so badly He gave Christ for it. It’s for this time when I would choose Him above the doubt of the next thing, the impatience of a slower journey, or the unknown of time that is not my own.

I may utter words of prayer that ask “Is this what it looks like?” while He is continually responding, “Isn’t it worth spending with me?”

Oof.

There and Then

I think God has a genuine sense of humor. I truly do.

This week I commented to my Graduate Assistant that I was feeling put together again, back in organizing mode and giving due attention to the things that needed it. It’s been a season of triage and rushing. As I made the statement, closing a binder to replace on the shelf, several binders fell from the shelf. Then I dropped my pen, which was open, and commenced to writing down the front of my dress. The topping on the cake was then getting hand sanitizer shooting up like a fountain onto my desk and papers. To which we both agreed that God just laughs at us when we make statements like that.

In the humor though is real love and attention to our lives. Last month, and for many before that, a focus shift occurred where I was looking ahead to the next thing. Which in and of itself is not a bad thing. Much like I talked about in a post last month, “by now” started to creep in. It went beyond marital status though. Soon I felt hurried and rushed to be addressing the next thing and not relishing the now.

“God laughs when we make plans” has been something I have seen throughout life, but never more have I seen it come true than in recent weeks and months. When we become preoccupied with the plans ahead we begin to regret and bypass the now. We speed through lists, through meetings, through people in order to get to next thing quickest.

I cannot help but be reminded of two of my favorite passages when I get too far ahead. They are so oft quoted that I wonder if they become cliche and fettered about only in times of suffering or trial. Whatever your usage of them, Jeremiah 29:11 and Isaiah 55:8,9 are reminders that we are living in the now based upon the plans and ways of a Creative and Thoughtful God. Yes we can plan, but we should not be so focused on the then that we never see the now.

Throughout Scripture He reminds us of stillness, of waiting, that we always have Him with us, and yet we cannot help but focus on future planning. Don’t get me wrong, that’s not a bad thing until it becomes the only thing we can focus on. Sometimes the journey towards that future is just a beautiful as what is awaiting you. In fact, the deeper I dig into my journey I am seeing that the end result is merely a by-product or side effect to the present I am choosing to live. It’s a life built on His love and sacrifice, but also overseen by His design.

If I am not trusting in that, I have a much graver future ahead. After all He journeys with me so why not enjoy the company I am in now, knowing the only guaranteed future is one spent eternally with Him anyways?