The other day I pushed myself too hard at the gym. It was out of pride, honestly. I limped home with quads that felt like they were ripping at the seams. The only thing I could think to do was to kneel on the ground and stretch my poor, wounded muscles as gently as I could.
I never really sit on the ground. Why would I? But the second I did, my dog, Winston, ran up to me, eager to play. Normally, I would push him away or completely ignore him. But this time I didn’t. I stopped what I was doing and played with my dog.
Now, I know this isn’t anything earth shattering. Playing with my dog shouldn’t be so rare. But I need to confess that it is. Rather than play with Winston I spend most of my time barking (ha!) orders at him. No Winston! Come Winston! Bad! Stop that! Sit down!
I’ve become some sort of controlling dictator with a plan that needs executing.
And then I realized that maybe that’s how I see God.
I don’t know how or why or when it started but I’m pretty sure that’s exactly what I think God is doing. He’s got this plan, this “will” for my life and he’s just barking out orders. If that were the case, God would be just as dysfunctional of a parent as I am. Knowing what little I know about God, that can’t be true.
Imagine walking into a house and seeing a parent behave the way I do with Winston. “Son, I’ve decided you will go to this college. Daughter, you’re going to marry that man. You’ll both work jobs you don’t enjoy because I say so. Also, we’re eating meatloaf for dinner. No questions asked. Sit down and shut up and pretend you’re happy.”
If those sentences are conjuring up some painful images from your childhood, I’m so sorry. If we walked into a home and saw someone commanding an army of little troops and dictating their every move we would think it’s a pretty oppressive environment. There’s little room for creativity, for imagination, for mistakes, for messes.
Sometimes I think we get so caught up in God’s “will” for our lives. We want to know the exact road map with every detail outlined so we can follow the rules and color inside the lines. We’re so consumed with knowing his plan for our lives that we feel guilty making a plan of our own. Instead of making decisions we either passively sit by waiting for God to mysteriously reveal this will of his or we throw ourselves into every little opportunity hoping something will stick.
Maybe God doesn’t have a “plan” for your life after all.
My friend Don Miller says that God’s will is to “save many lives.” That’s really the only plan, and it’s a good one that doesn’t need modifying. In the Bible, every major player’s main goal is to save many lives: Noah, Moses, Rahab, Joseph, Jesus, and Paul just to name a casual few. They’re all saving lives. But they weren’t passively sitting around for God to boom out his military strategy for their every move.
Instead, each of them knew their job was to save lives, and they did it. None of them did it the same way because that’s not the plan. None of them sat around twiddling their thumbs paralyzed by the fear that they were going to mess up the plan. Sure, they had plenty of doubts. Most of them had absolutely no idea what they were doing. But they went for it, and they were each creative about it.
The courage and creativity in their stories inspires us.
So no, I don’t think God has this detailed and nuanced plan for our lives. Yes, he’s watching us bump around and make a fool of ourselves. But he’s not barking orders for us to marry this person or take that job or go to that church. If that were the case we would feel really guilty all the time for making the wrong decisions. Or we just wouldn’t make any decisions at all.
People say we need to learn to sit in the passenger’s seat and let God drive. You know, something along the lines of, “Jesus take the wheel” and such. I used to love that metaphor because it means I get to sit in the passenger’s seat of my life and watch the clouds pass by. I get to be an inactive participant of the story God’s writing and he picks every stop, every turn, every photo opportunity along this journey in my life.
We weren’t designed to sit in the passenger’s seat. We were designed to be co-authors in a story about saving many lives – co-pilots, if you will.
Now I think God wants me to sit in his lap, the way a dad teaches his kid to drive. I think God’s looking at us saying, “Where do you want to go? Let’s go together. You pick a place and I’ll help us get there.” So we get to sit on his lap and steer this journey together. Yes, if we get off course or start heading into traffic he’s going to correct us. He’s going to whisper in our ear helpful words of wisdom like, “hands at 10 and 2” or “keep your eyes on the road.”
But for the most part we get to drive. We get to create. We get to be active participants in the story God is writing to save many lives. Because God doesn’t want to shout out directions, he wants to get on the ground and play with us.
How will you get out of the passenger’s seat this week? What are you dying to create? Where do you need to take some ownership or start dreaming again?
He’s not looking for performance; he’s looking for participation.
PC: @fikagatherings via #belovedlife