by Joe Leavell
Do you ever wonder if King David had any idea when he wrote his works of poetry to God that they would be read by countless millions for thousands of years? I imagine that, as a king, putting his deepest thoughts out there for his nation to read about his struggles would not have been easy. Imagine this transparent vulnerability being practiced by our own nation’s leaders! The press and their political opponents would have a field day! Some Psalms are about worship and praise, others are requests, but in all of them I am thankful for the example of godly leaders like David and others who wrote honestly about their struggles. I think this is one of many reasons why God preserved these works of art in His word for us today. They leave us with a wonderful example of someone who is open before God in their worship.
Several years ago, I was challenged through the ministry of a class in our church, to write out my own psalm of what I was wrestling through in my understanding of God. The experience was truly helpful to be open with God and to be vulnerable to my fellow believers with my experience of struggling with through the sovereignty of God over our lives. After reading it in front of a group of roughly 100 people, several commented that they could identify with my struggles, and were helped by my openness in the journey. For me, I have also found through the years since that it has been helpful to go back and remember the lessons that I learned, and praise God that I have grown to love God’s sovereignty, even in the midst of difficult circumstances.
If you come to receive counsel from our office, don’t be surprised if one of the exercises that we ask you to do is to read significant portions of the psalms, to journal, or, as the counseling winds down, to write out your own psalm to God. Taking the time to write out my thoughts has personally been of great benefit to me.
In that spirit of vulnerability, I present to you the psalm that I wrote roughly three years ago as I wrestled with the sovereignty of God. What are your struggles? What is your psalm? We would love to hear from you!
Confused…God, where on earth are you leading me?! Why couldn’t you leave me to where I was going? Don’t you recognize that I liked my future and that I was happy with the path that I had laid out before me? Don’t you understand that I had dreams and desires of my own? Don’t you know that I gave myself up for your use thinking that I would get to choose what that service would look like? After all, I had worked so hard and had spent my time planning and developing into what I thought you wanted me to be. I gave my life over to your control, but didn’t you know that was conditional on my agreeing with where you would lead me?
Still confused…I thought my dreams were realized. They were nightmares. My dreams were repulsive because it was me who was trying to make sure that it was my will being done on earth, not Yours. The only thing that didn’t stink about me making sure my dreams came true on my timetable was that I learned that when I try to direct my path I do a really crappy job. I confess to you that I am horrendous at running my own life. The more I try to control my circumstances, the people around me, and try to control the sinful patterns of my heart, the worse things get. I can’t do this anymore. I give up.
Resignation…I get it. You’ve taught me that you’re the one in control. You’re the Sovereign One, the Creator, and the Only Wise God. You’re the King, I’m the vassal. My ways are not your ways and your ways are so much higher than mine. I get it. I’m not in control. You are. But I don’t like it. Even now I want to be the backseat driver. I say to you, “Don’t you want this and this to happen, God? Wouldn’t it be better if you opened this door? Wouldn’t this path be the right one to take?” Recognizing you’re in charge, I’ve resigned to trying to manipulate your decisions over my life. It hasn’t worked.
Fine! Whatever! Do what you want with me. After all, my dreams are done. I have no hope for a life of significance. No more dreaming. No identity. No value. No more purpose. I am defeated and conquered and tired of fighting. It is not celebration of your Lordship over my life at this point, but resignation. Do whatever you want with me, but just know that I cannot imagine being contented by your will.
Clarity…God, I am an absolute idiot! Your word reveals that my identity was never in what I did for you. My identity is found in Jesus! My identity was not even in someone who screwed up his dreams. Knowing Jesus is the best dream realized. My value is not found in some profession or accomplishment. It is found only in You. Through Jesus, You have given me the only purpose that matters…to know You, the power of His resurrection, and to be conformed to the image of Christ. Your will is not some burdensome yolk of bondage that I have to resign myself to. Jesus sets us free from bondage! God, forgive me. I have been looking back at things behind, trapped by the enemy in my cell of self pity. But Jesus set me free.
Forward…forgetting those things behind, I press towards the mark of the high calling in Christ Jesus. From now on, I want to only look to Jesus, the Author and Finisher of my faith. My one aim is to know you Jesus. I want to celebrate that the screw up I was died with you on the cross. The life I now live, I live in You. Help me to spend the rest of my life celebrating and sharing with others the marvelous freedom of your love, your grace, and your mercy. Outside of that, what else really matters?