As a child, I knew everything. Good behavior earned cookies while bad behavior earned spankings. I also knew what the word “behavior” meant, at least in relation to the idea of cookies and spankings. I understood circumstance to the sum of my choices, thus I bore full responsibility for my own destiny.
Growing up, I realized this was not the case, that there was no neat cause-and-effect relationship that guided the happenings of life. Rather, randomness played a much larger role than I anticipated, and I think that part of growing up is learning to find the balance between these random happenings while still resisting the urge to devalue my own choices and the consequences therein.
In other words, don’t give up, but be wise enough to discern when it’s not your fault.
This is not easy. I think that my default is to assume that all things happen because I make them happen, that the sovereignty of God is more a global and general idea than something which touches the workings of my daily life. It is usually not until my carefully made plans have been toppled over that I realize in awe and respect that I live in God’s world, not the other way around. Yet my disappointment in these moments pales in comparison to the sheepish embarrassment I feel when something I’ve not touched at all with my controlling hands works out better than I’ve planned. It is then that I come face to face with my delusion that I know best, and see my own plans as small, my momentary protests as grains of sand on the beach of God’s sovereignty.
I (in the global sense) was created to exist. I was fashioned from dust to live in unbroken communion with God. It was I (still global) who made everything far more complicated, putting in a bid for God’s sovereign crown, thus upsetting the apple cart of the created order. Centuries and generations later I (globally and specifically) am still recovering, still insisting that I sit on a throne far too large for me, rejecting my original design as simple and unimportant.
The real question is, if I was offered sovereignty over my own life, how long could I stand it before I realized that it was far too much for me to handle and place it back in God’s hands? I suppose that length of time is different for everyone, and perhaps it is that length of time that in turn measures our independence and pride. The irony of it all is that I sometimes want to be in control SO THAT I might be able to finally rest and cease to worry, and yet I ignore God’s invitation to that now.
In the end, all questions of submission and sovereignty come down to this: is your God for you or against you? Or more so, where do you think your God stands? In this particular instance, perception creates reality. We may not craft our destinies by the sum of our actions, but how we experience that destiny, the world outside of our control, is up to us. God gives us that choice, as He won’t inflict his peace on those who demand to create their own, no matter how unreliable it may be.