“Have you ever thought of how different life would be if we didn’t take God into consideration when making life choices?” I recently asked a friend of mine. Sometimes I can’t help but think that maybe—just maybe—doing things without first consulting with God might make life less complicated. It will definitely be more convenient…
Her reply to me was this: “Think about how much more painful things will be for you. God’s way may be longer and more complicated, but He protects you from all sorts of pain and heartache that will be so much more unbearable than what you are going through right now.”
Such wisdom! It is truth like this that makes me grumble and pout a little about having to be obedient to God but then go on to thank Him once again for His unfailing faithfulness to us—we who are weak, fickle, shallow, and sometimes really, really dumb.
I woke up this morning with the song Nothing is Impossible in my head. The first part of the chorus goes:
Through You, I can do anything
I can do all things
For it’s You who gives me strength
Nothing is impossible!
It’s a great song. But it also reminded me of how we need to keep God’s parameters in mind when we sing songs like this, or quote Scripture like “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:13), and “Ask and it shall be given, seek and you shall find” (Matthew 7:7).
What exactly are we asking for and seeking? If it goes against God’s nature, we can be quite certain that His answer will be “No.” But oh psh, let’s not focus on that. Instead, we love to think of how God can bring us through anything and everything if we just trust Him, forgetting that we also need to be entrusting that “anything and everything” to Him before we dive right into them, head first.
In other words, it would be a mistake to think, “I can do whatever I want. It doesn’t matter what God thinks, and if things go bad, then I’ll ask Him for help.”
God is not a lifeguard, just sitting and waiting for us to drown so that He can pull us out of trouble. He’s more like a swimming coach; there to give us wise counsel and instructions on how to do things right, so that we don’t drown.
Will He rescue us if we start to go down? Sure He will! After all, what kind of swimming coach will just stand by and watches his student drown because he or she didn’t listen to him? But isn’t it better to learn lessons without first having to go through the trauma of a near-death experience?
Just as it is preferable to learn to swim through rough currents by first listening to my coach’s instructions and warnings, and then continually listening for his voice while I’m in the midst of the danger so that he can talk me through it, it is also wise for us to first hear what God has to say in every situation and decision we arrive at in life.
While God will never give us anything more than we can handle, we usually have a choice of what we get ourselves into. Most—not all, but most—of the challenges we face are based on our own decisions, and the more we ignore God, the deeper we find ourselves sinking into disaster. Then we get upset at God and say, “You said I can do all things!”
Yes, “all things through Him,” which means that we must first involve Him. As human beings, we like to take into consideration the parts that benefit us and gloss over the parts where God says, “Listen to Me.” We like the part in Psalm 37:4 that says, “And He will give you the desires of your heart,” but we prefer to mumble past the initial clause to “Delight yourself in the Lord.”
We tend to focus on God’s blessings and favor, but we don’t like it so much when God wants to discipline us and mold us into the people He wants us to be for His glory. To cut things short, we like to take the short cut in hopes of getting all the perks of the scenic route.
Tough luck; it doesn’t work that way. God is a God of love, but He will do whatever is necessary for us to get over our stubbornness and learn to do things His way, because at the end of the day, doing things His way, as difficult or tedious as it may seem, is always the better way.
Dr. Ben Gutierrez, a professor of Religion at my university, once stood in front of our student body and emphasized to us how important it was that we do things “God’s way! God’s way! God’s way! God’s way! God’s way! God’s way! God’s way! God’s way! God’s way!”
At that time, I wondered when he was going to stop, but his method sure worked. Until today, I hear his voice in my head going, “God’s way!” and I’m reminded not to be foolish and try to take matters into my own hands. As smart as we may think we are, God always sees what’s ahead and wants to protect us from getting more hurt than necessary.
So listen to the Swimming Coach! He knows the ins and outs of the undercurrents and danger zones. If He says, “Don’t go there,” trust His wisdom, and don’t go there. If He says, “I know another way that is longer, and more tiring, but you will be safe,” go with His suggestion. If He says, “Wait,” then by all means, wait. Because we know that He will not benefit from misleading you; He only has your best interests at heart. Together, you can conquer rivers, channels, and oceans. And nothing will be impossible!
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