It’s Wednesday morning. You wake up. You feel kind of horrible, a tinge of worthlessness creeping around the corners of your consciousness. Later in the day you are talking with a group of people, someone makes an off-handed comment that causes you to become suddenly angry. What do you do? What is your perspective on the way you felt when you woke up or on why you became angry? Do you just chalk it up to “waking up on the wrong side of the bed” or do you get mad “just because of what that person said”? What paradigm do you see the events of life through in order to interpret each day, week, month, or year? Is it a paradigm that leads you into greater intimacy with God?
I would like to put forth a rather bold idea that affects my life every day, almost insanely so: that everything that you feel or experience actually involves God’s attempts to draw you to Himself. It is not simply random situational events that you should try and respond well to. Now maybe this sounds obvious to you at first or maybe it doesn’t, but when you examine it practically, it is normally quite different from one’s usual perspective, even controversial.
When you are suddenly angry at your friend who said whatever, do you actually think, “What is God trying to bring me into for relationship with Him?” Normally not. When you wake up feeling low, do you normally think excitedly, “How is God trying to woo me?” Probably not. Human beings are normally very situational, reactionary, and self-protective. At best, we tend to think of the events in our day as events to which we must try and respond righteously. Now, this isn’t wrong but it is burdening and is a less-helpful way to live. What if you dared to believe that God was in control of your life, so that when that person says some comment to you that causes anger to come up in you, you believed that God was trying to show you some place where you could know Him more. What if your perspective turned the ordinary events of life (and often the difficult ones like getting angry) into entry ways to more greatly know God?
At this point, you might be wondering, how does my anger at someone have to do with me knowing God more? Everything about you is actually about how you relate to God. If you are getting suddenly and sinfully angry at someone, it is not “just because they said something mean and you got mad.” No, if you are getting suddenly and sinfully angry, it is because you do not know something about God. Let me give you a personal example.
Just the week before last I was at home for Christmas. My mom made an off-handed comment about one of my old friend’s mom. She said, “She’ll never be a Christian.” I found myself suddenly infuriated by what my mother had said. Now, in honesty, my mom said something wrong and sinful, condemning a person to never be a Christian. And yet, I could feel in my anger towards my mom something sinful. I was hurt by what my mom said. And even if she told me she was wrong, I did not want to forgive her. These were my cues that my anger was sinful, that I was believing a lie about God.
I knew that this anger therefore wasn’t mostly about what had just happened. It was about something between God and me. I took some time to feel and see what I actually felt my mom had said. Sitting there asking the Holy Spirit to help me, I discovered that I felt that my mom was condemning people, saying that they could reach some certain place where they became unworthy of hope or attention. From there, I moved to realizing how the stuff that God had been revealing to me in general for the past week or two was related to this particular emotion, and that I actually felt that God felt this way towards others and me. So, I looked at God and said, “God, you would never speak this way, you would never feel this way about people. You constantly have hope and belief that people can be more, can change. You are so full of love.” It is not always this fast, but right at that moment when I said those words, my emotions towards my mom changed. I suddenly felt joy towards her and love and compassion.
The point of that story is to give you an example of how often the emotions we feel towards people are actually about ways we feel or believe God is. The point of this blog entry, however, is to use this true perspective coupled with the knowledge of God’s seeking of your heart to define your whole life. Are the events in your life random? Could you dare to believe that when you wake up in the morning feeling bad, that God is graciously trying to show you something you feel so that you can have the Holy Spirit change it, so that He can be with you more in truth? Could you dare to believe that when your anger is suddenly flaring at a friend, that God is trying to show you a way that you do not know Him, so that you can then know Him more? Can you dare to believe that God is more in control of your life than demons? Or even than your own weaknesses?
Even concerning those things that are flagrantly from the kingdom of darkness or from the sin of human hearts, I think we should view our lives this way. Whose agenda do you want to see as superior in your life? Satan's agenda? Your own weaknesses' agenda? Or God's agenda? Even when something clearly of Satan or clearly from human wickedness is occurring, you can still choose to view superiorly that which God is doing. This is not to make the sins or acts of darkness okay. For instance, when I felt anger at my mom, I was sinning, and the idea of simply permitting that sin to continue is wrong. However, only looking at that sin at my mom as something that I should just try and not do or be is shallow and sad. What if I not only looked at it as wrong but also looked at it as God saying, “Look! Look at this way that you can know me more?!”
How different would your life feel if everything that you ever felt, good or bad, difficult or easy, was actually a window through which God was trying to show you ways you can know Him more? How different would you feel if everything that happened to you was actually being employed by God to help you know Him more?
I recently spoke to a friend who was having a really hard time with her family. Quite frankly, it is a very difficult situation that tears most families apart. She has been so burdened down by it and God has such compassion towards her pain and her constant attempts to try and make the best out of the situation. But in all her attempts, I asked her if she ever looked at it as anything other than a series of negative events to just try and get through, to just try and respond to as best as she could and then get by? Even if she is still struggling, it was incredible to watch her face as hope came onto it, as love came onto it, as a lightness came onto it, when she thought of that whole series of events as actually involving God’s attempts to cause her to get to know Him more.
So, the next time you feel a negative feeling in your own self or the next time you are suddenly in a difficult situation, instead of just thinking that it is a random negative burst, try viewing it as God’s pursuit of your heart. Try viewing it as God trying to highlight something for you to see, that you may know Him more. At least in my life, as I have done this day in and day out, I have discovered how incredibly in control God actually is. Events that might seem random to someone are actually all God’s handiwork. For instance, that wrong view of God that was highlighted by my anger at my mom was actually another piece of the puzzle of what God had been trying to show me more generally for the previous two weeks.
God knows how to weave events and emotional bursts in a way that will cause you to learn certain things at certain times. He is so good at leading, so good at teaching, so good at saving. If you will simply look at the events of your life, as small as what you feel each day, you will see God’s hand all over your life trying to pull you into certain revelations, certain pieces of Him you still do not know.
Note: I do not believe God ordains sin. I believe He ordains awareness of sin that has always been present.