Thursday, July 19, 2007

Freedom from Fear


Years ago, I used to believe that God had a perfect will for me, but I could mess it up. By making some stupid choice or not praying fervently enough, I could “miss the boat” or make mistakes for which I would pay dearly.

As I began to study the Scripture, however, I learned that my concept was wrong. God is sovereign over his creation, and that includes me. If He were not controlling and sustaining my life, I wouldn’t exist. Therefore everything that happens to me, good and bad, is part of his will for my life. If I exercise my free will to sin or make mistakes, God uses even those things for my ultimate good—to discipline me, teach me, and mold me to be the daughter He wants me to be.

Knowing this has freed me from the tyranny of fear. Think of Job: a blameless man, a good man, and yet God allowed Satan to afflict him, grieve him, strike his body with disease. What gives God the right? His sovereignty. His role as Creator. God is not cruel as men count cruelty; His ways are just and some of his reasons may be far above our understanding. But even when we are in the fire of testing, nothing can touch us unless our loving God grants permission.

So when, as a mother, I worry that I am warping my kids for life because I tell them “no,” I’ve learned that I’m not the ultimate shaper of their lives—God is. He created them, and He will mold them. He will use me as an example for good (and bad), and my children will use their free will to accept or reject my example. But through it all, God is sovereign.

I was once speaking about God’s sovereignty in a class of women. Later, one mother came up with tears in her eyes and said, “Our son died when he was ten. You can’t mean his death was God’ will.”

My heart broke as I looked at her suffering-filled eyes. “I know it’s a hard truth,” I told her, “but I’d rather live in a world where God controls everything than in a world where certain things are out of his control. How could we know peace if death and sin and crime were beyond the limits of God’s power?”

That would be a fearful world indeed.

In Genesis 50, Joseph told his brothers, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good.” God didn’t merely allow or make the best of a bad situation, he intended everything—the prison, the testing, the years of loneliness—to refine Joseph’s character and to save the world from famine.

David wrote, “Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed” (Ps. 139:16).

Knowing that—that God has plotted the days of this novelist’s life—gives me great peace and takes away fear.

~~Angie

11 comments:

CrownLaidDown said...

Thanks Angie, I needed that...a good and timely Word! Praying for your last few classes...way to go! I'm waiting patiently for my copy of The Elevator to arrive...as I wait, I'm finishing Ted Dekker's Circle series.

May God bless you with more of Him sweet Sister!
In His Joy,
Holly Smith

Susan said...

Is it not possible to thwart His will for our lives through disobedience?

Angela said...

Can little ol' ME thwart the will of the omniscient, sovereign God? I don't think so.

The act of selling Joseph--and lying to Jacob--was certainly a sin, but God intended it to happen in order to bring about the salvation of the world.

David's act of taking a census--see 2 Samuel 24--was a sin, but God intended it because he wanted to punish the nation of Israel . . . and David.

Judas's act of betraying Jesus was certainly a sin, but God intended it to be the means by which Christ would be betrayed and crucified.

Peter wrote, "This man (Jesus) was handed over to you by God's set purpose and foreknowledge; and you . . . put him to death by nailling him to the cross." (Acts 2:23). Free will and God's sovereignty work together.

Man has free will--we certainly choose to sin, so we cannot blame God for our actions--BUT in his omniscience, because he knows us so intimately, and in his foreknowledge, he knows what we will do when confronted with XYZ. Therefore he uses even our freely-chosen sins to work his will. For the believer, we voluntarily enter the School of Hard Knocks, as it were, because He wants to shave off our rough edges.

This is what I tried to illustrate in THE NOVELIST. Most people are unaware of or forgetful of God's working in our lives, but He's there. And nothing that happens to us--even our sins--can surprise Him.

Angie

Marla Taviano said...

^Amen!

Accidental Poet said...

That's very comforting. I say it all the time, to other people: God is bigger.

Kay said...

As far as us me messing up God's plan goes -- I love the stories of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
And Lot.
The angel told Lot to go to the mountain and Lot asked if he couldn't go to this little town instead. The angel said "no problem", so Lot went to the little town. But guess where he ended up in the long run.
I always tell myself, no matter what I do, if God wants me on the mountain, I will end up on the mountain. I can go there the easy, direct way, or not -- that part is up to me.

Lynda said...

Thanks Angie. I used to be in the camp that taught that God's will for my life is a specific dot on the map. How freeing it was many years ago to learn that God is so much bigger than my little plans and ideas. I believe our choices are significant, but we are never outside of God's providential working in our lives. My favorite biblical example of this is the story of Esther. God's sovereign hand is so evident throughout that wonderful story--in spite of people's choices and desires. We serve a great God!

Kerry Krycho said...

Angie-I agree and what peace this brings when we truly know God is in control. There is truly nothing I can do that can take me out of His hand. Before I even sin, He already made provision for redeption. How great is our God!!

Blessings,

Christina Berry said...

Read this last night--Jesus praying for his disciples: "None has been lost except the one doomed to destruction so that Scripture would be fulfilled." John 17:12b

Shows the Lord's intent. Also made me question all those new theories that Judas was saved. But that's a whole 'nother ball of wax....

Johnnie Ruth Hamill said...

God has been speaking to me a lot about his sovereignty. Thank you for another confirmation...

Nora said...

Fear has been an issue in my life. I struggle with it on and off. Since fathers day's Sermon it has flared up again. During a sermon at church the Pastor let slip out of his mouth that parents that did not have a will in place were... Well not very good parents. That we were not taking care of the tough issues in life and our children would pay dearly. I came home feeling like a horrible mom. I prayed and prayed and tried to think of someone I would trust to raise my kids the way I would raise them. One name came to mind. So I began nagging my husband to pray about the issue and consider the couple I had thought of. The thought scared me so bad that my kids could possibly be raised by someone else. I had this sorrow building fear closing off my spiritual lungs. I refused to go on date nights with my husband because heaven forbid something would happen and the kids would get split up sent off to foster homes. My husband and I were praying about it one night. After we prayed he suddenly started playing the "how big is God" game with me that I play with the kids. He asked me "Who loves our kids more than us?" "God" I answered. Who is in charge of our children's well being? "I am I answered." dun dun dun. Wrong. I laughed as I heard the seriousness in my voice sound in my head moments before. I actually believed I was in complete control of keeping my kids safe. I knew better but fear was ruling my thoughts not Truth.

I know your subject on fear varies from my text. But I just wanted to explain how it helped me on my path of healing the damage fear had scared me with this last month. I know God is in control. No matter what happens He is sovereign, and always has and always will love and care for my children. I am as the man in Luke when Jesus asks him if he believes. He answers "I do believe. Lord help my unbelief!" Don't get me wrong I am not saying we won't write out a will. But I am not in a rush to get it done out of a heart driven by fear!

Last night my husband and I went to see transformers. ( NOT FOR KIDS NO WAY!) The kids were home with a sitter we love and trust. I actually got to enjoy the movie with out suddenly feeling like there was going to be a gun shoved to the back of my head. Well I enjoyed the movie mostly their were certain uncalled for dialog that were very disappointing. Lets just say that unless I am ready to tell my son about the birds and the bees and other such thing that according to the word should or should not go along with it, to the disappointment of my eight year old, he will not be watching it not for a long long long time.
Angela thanks so much for keeping up this blog. I can't tell you how many times your words have spoken directly to my heart. I have read many books of yours. I just finished Uncharted! One of my favorites was The Novelist.
Thanks again!