Saturday, March 29, 2014

Tools in the Hands of The Master

I write a lot about control... our lack of control, how the demand for control hurts us, etc.  There are things we do have some semblance of control over, and then there are things we have no control over.  For example, we have reasonable control (one would hope) over our own actions.  We do not generally have control over outcomes, however, and we most certainly do not have control over someone else's actions.

This becomes particularly frustrating when your life situation is such that you are forced to deal with people who are something of a thorn in your side.  They are not respectful.  They are passive-aggressive.  They are manipulative.  They are gossips.  They look for opportunities to push your buttons in front of others as way to try and establish their alleged dominance.  And yet... for one reason or another, they are part of your life.

I've wrestled with this kind of situation a lot.  Anger is the typical response.  Anger at them, anger at myself (perhaps for feeling like I should have handled something differently), but if I am honest, there's a lot of anger toward God.  There is a sense of hopelessness and helplessness, like in spite of what I do to establish and improve my life, this person is always there to throw a wrench into it or exploit my weaknesses.  They are there to be a thorn in your side, to make sure nothing goes smoothly, to be like a fly in your face.  The demand for "control", to finally have your life be the way you want it, is strong... and that is where a lot of bargaining ("God, haven't I dealt with this enough?") and resentment come in.

But this is also where the demand for control only hurts us.  Perhaps the first step we must learn is that our life is not our own and that we can rest and leave in the hands of God all things, particularly the things and people we cannot control.  God will deal with them.  In good time, He will.  And in the meantime, He is perfecting you through suffering.  They are an unwitting tool in the hands of the Master.  Every manipulative, selfish, childish, harmful, abusive thing they do, though itself bad, is ultimately just helping you become more like Jesus.  All of the chaos and peacelessness they sow in your life is ultimately a tool in God's hands to bring you to a place of greater inner stability and peace.

That is one of the great victories through the cross.  No matter what the enemy does, the Lord of all things uses it to accomplish good: to redeem, to perfect, to establish, to love, to save, to embrace, to embolden.  They may laugh at the moment, but God gets the last "laugh" with everything they have done.  Every selfish act, every passive-aggressive word, every ego-centric power-play is ultimately a gift to make you more into who God wants you to be, a gift to perfect you.

Not only can I learn to accept that I don't have control over this person or these situations, it is my hope to find peace and joy within it.  Rather than seeing these people as giants who can thwart and diminish all my plans, I can see them as both the sad fools and unwitting instruments of my redemption that they really are.  I can see them as tools in God's plan for me, and though I may not like it one bit, I can receive them from His hand.

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