One night a couple of months ago I found myself treading anxiety like water in my head, paddling my thoughts round and round.
I was planning conversations in my head to try to calm my heart. I do that for the same reason that I get frustrated when traffic is backed up; for the same reason that I try to anticipate all the scenarios that could go wrong in relationships, work or life.
I do these things because I’m desperate to control my life and in secret places in my heart I believe I would be better at the job description of ‘god’ than God. But underneath my obsessive planning and manipulation, my soul is restless for the fulfillment of a desire I was designed for: I long for the assurance that everything will turn out okay.
This desire will control the destiny of every single one of us. It will either lead us to trust in our Creator or trust in created things.
You can either put your faith in whatever false savior promises a life where everything turns out okay: a husband, a job, your own thoughts, your own abilities.
Or, you can let every point of tension and anxiety humble you with the reminder that you have no control over your destiny and put your faith in the only One who does. Only God can guarantee that everything is going to turn out okay.
If you picked option A, (the arrogance of attempting to control your own life), you will always feel the underlying anxiety and fear that comes from knowing it’s impossible. You will constantly face obstacles that you cannot find your way around. No amount of analyzing or action can change the trajectory of your life.
I know that because of King Saul. Poor guy found out that God had picked David to replace him as King. Saul used all the resources at his disposal (which were extensive) but he still couldn’t thwart God’s plan. Saul just wanted everything to turn out okay, (not a bad desire), but instead of letting it lead him to repent and depend on God, he let it lead him to fight and battle against his maker.
David on the flip side, viewed every obstacle standing between him and his destiny be an opportunity to ask for God’s help. Even in moments when he got tossed a soft ball, and a single action from him would have delivered his dreams, David refused to fight for himself, but instead waited on the Lord.
They both had the same desire – for their lives to turn out as they should. But where Saul turned to his own hands and muttered to himself – God helps those who help themselves, David got on his knees and confessed that he was unable to help himself. God helps those who turn to Him for help.
This is the Gospel: our confession that we are helpless apart from His intervention. The irony of our desire for things to be okay is that ultimately - things will only turn out okay for those who have the grace to know that they need God to make things okay. Things will not turn out okay for those who persist in seeking to climb their way to an eternal ‘okay’.
Crazy David. He was satisfied by God in ways I dream about. He describes it in this way:
My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food,
and my mouth will praise you with joyful lips,
He tells us why he felt that way:
for you have been my help, (Psalm 63:5-7 ESV)
If we want to be satisfied with God in the same way our bodies are satisfied by a great steak, then we have to look to him for help. Our longing for everything to be okay is the fuel constantly prompting us to turn to God for help.
Every time you feel your desire for everything to turn out for your good tempt you to control or manipulate or plan, instead let that longing lead you to ask God for help. He promises that He will work every single detail of every single minute of every single day for our good if we’re in Christ.
Here’s what that means: my dad’s death, my singleness, every bad day and every moment of loneliness is happening – not in spite of God’s promise to make everything turn out okay – but because of His promise that He will work everything for my good.
From His seat in Heaven above I think He has a better view than me of what I need. Being the One with authority every molecule in the world, I think He has a better ability to control my destiny than me. I pray that our longing for a happy ending would drive us all into the arms of the only One who has both the wisdom and the power to deliver to us a destiny filled with Himself.