It’s July 28th, 2013.
I stuff the last few items into the back of my car, take a deep breath, and catch one last look at my childhood home in the rearview mirror.
I’ve packed my entire life into my little Hyundai Sonata; anything that doesn’t fit has to stay behind.
Over the past few weeks, I’ve said goodbye to the friends who have walked with me for the past 4 years. I’ve been trying to put on a brave face, all the while choking back tears with each parting hug.
I’ve been dreaming of a grand adventure for years now… but the past few years have taken a toll, and I’m a broken shell of the girl who once dreamed of blazing her own trail in a new land.
I smile and talk about how excited I am to set out on this new adventure; “I just need a change of scenery,” “I’ve got to get away from those harsh Minnesota winters!” and “It’s the perfect time to go on an adventure and try something new!” It’s not hard to believe, after all I’m a brand new college graduate… The world is my oyster!
But there’s a truth that I know deep in my heart; I’m not setting off on a grand adventure, I’m running away.
I’m running away from a life that has spiraled out of control, from relationships that have been beaten and battered, and from the darkness that has been following me for years. I’m leaving behind everything I’ve known, running as fast and as far as I can.
The place I’ve set my sights holds nothing for me; no friends, no job prospects, no real plans… just a temporary home in a basement apartment that I found on Craigslist. All the same, I take a deep breath, get in my car, and start heading west.
It’s three years to the day since I set out to make Denver my new home… And if there’s one thing that these past three years have taught me, it’s that I serve a God who is sovereign.
We are a people who love to be in control, or at least the illusion that we are in control. We like to think that we control our own lives, and because of the gift of free will, to some degree we do. But if we could see the big picture, I think that we would find that we are nowhere near as “in control” of our own lives as we like to think. And the beautiful thing is, we can take comfort in that!
Earlier this week I was able to attend a concert by Hillsong United, and we sang an older song called “All I Need Is You.” In the bridge of this song, it says “You hold the universe, you hold everyone on earth.” I’ve sung this song many times, but I’ve never really stopped to think about those simple yet powerful words. God is sovereign over all things, there is nothing that is beyond His control, nothing that extends beyond His rule.
“Lift up your eyes on high and see who has created these stars, the One who leads forth their host by number, He calls them all by name; Because of the greatness of His might and the strength of His power, not one of them is missing.” (Isaiah 40:26)
Just think about it for a minute; the very same God who holds the stars and galaxies in His hand is also present and involved in our lives with a degree of intimacy that I can’t even begin to wrap my mind around. He’s not just there observing; He is actively involved in every single aspect of our lives. And as if that isn’t hard enough to comprehend, multiply that by the approximately 7.4 BILLION people on the planet today.
“Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside of your Father’s care. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered.” (Matthew 10:29-30, NIV)
We may know and confess this to be true, yet there are times in our lives where it can be hard to feel or believe it. Sometimes our lives take a turn that was never a part of our plans, painful things come our way and our world starts to fall apart… In these moments we may be left asking and wondering “where is God in all of this?” We can feel like God has abandoned us, like He couldn’t possibly be present in our situation. Even Jesus, the Son of God himself, felt this way in his darkest moment on the cross, as He cried ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’ (Matthew 27:46)
I won’t venture to go into the theological implications of this verse of Scripture, but suffice it to say that Jesus knows what it’s like to feel abandoned, to wonder where God is in a situation… Yet, at no point in time did God lose control of the situation, and at no point in time was His plan and purpose hindered or thwarted.
What I’m coming to learn is that the seasons of my life where I am left struggling to see how God could possibly be present, where I’m feeling abandoned and alone, are often the seasons where God is most at work in my life. Three years ago, when I got in my car and started driving west, I didn’t see or feel God in that moment… In fact, I couldn’t have felt much further from Him. I was running away, but unbeknownst to me God was bringing me to the place and to the people that He wanted to use to restore and renew my life.
I thought that I was taking my life into my own hands, but in reality I was still firmly in the hands of my Heavenly Father.
I thought that I was running away, but in reality God was leading, guiding, and drawing me closer to Himself and to the plans that He had for me all along.
I thought that I was leaving everything behind, but in reality God in the process of giving me more than I could’ve ever asked or imagined.
“Always, and in everything, he is wise: we shall see that hereafter, even when we never saw it here […] Meanwhile, we ought not to hesitate to trust his wisdom, even when he leaves us in the dark.” (J.I. Packer, Knowing God)
Maybe you’re in a season of life where God feels distant, and you can’t see Him at work in your circumstances. Maybe you’ve been running from something, from your circumstances or from God Himself, and you feel like you’ve run too far to ever turn back. Let me tell you that where you are today is no surprise to God; He sees you, He loves you, and He has a plan for your life. That’s the beauty of the sovereignty of our God; no mistake, wrong choice, or attempt to run from Him can take us beyond the reach of His sovereign hand. No matter what, He is still sovereign, He is still in control, and He still holds the power to change and transform our circumstances, and more importantly, our lives.