Is God sovereign even over my own sin?

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If you ask me to share my favorite attribute of God, I would respond without hesitation: His Sovereignty over every detail of life. As pastor and Bible teacher RC Sproul explains:

  • “If there is one single molecule in this universe running around loose, totally free of God’s sovereignty, then we have no guarantee that a single promise of God will ever be fulfilled.”

As this fact about God has sunk root in my consciousness, I have grown less impatient when delays happen during the day, whether in traffic or in lines at the store. I’ve been able to create a possible scenario like: ‘Maybe God is preventing me from being involved in an accident’.

That kind of application is easy.  But what happened the other day shifted my mind to ponder other areas within God’s sovereign reach.

During this particular ‘occasion’ my pride intersected with my sin.

First my area of boasting:  “I’m the kind of gal who stays within bounds of food choices so that my body feels (and looks) lean”

Next my fall: But the FOOD looked SO good that I served myself a larger-than-I-should portion.  And like Eve in the garden, I took and ate.

Finally my sin: (not that my pride was not sin) “Yikes, now I feel uncomfortably full.  Oh, no!  I HATE this feeling- and it’s my fault.  How could I have done that!  I can’t stop obsessing about this feeling of fullness.  Why didn’t I stick with a smaller portion?” Self…self…self…self………down into me, away from Mike, away from happy thoughts about God that lift the burden of ME off my shoulders.

When it was time, to bed I headed:

  • to tossing and turning
  • to restless sleep interrupted with thoughts of ME
  • to the next morning with a soulful, self-absorbed greeting of God
  • to my walk, while listening to a John Piper sermon
  • to light and freedom from God, via a new thought!

hope light

Could it be that God is sovereign over even my own sin?  That this ‘lapse’ is part of His plan for growing me to depend more and more joyfully and comprehensively on Him for everything?

I had never even considered that His sovereignty extended to MY own sin. I wavered and the thought began to mist away.

But reason, in the form of a syllogism, rushed in to defend and grow this tiny flicker of hope:

Either God is sovereign over everything or He has no control over human and natural events

God IS sovereign over everything

Therefore, He has control over every human and natural event

What follows is mere corollary:

  • My sin/mistake/bad thing/poor judgment/lapse/evil/hurtful word/thoughtless or deliberate cruel action/ugly thought is part of the ‘everything’ that God has planned or ordained to unroll according to His purposes.
  • If I don’t FRET when traffic interrupts my plans, then I shouldn’t FRET when I act in ways I don’t like
  • Caveat – this does not mean that when I do bad stuff, it’s NOT bad stuff.  It IS bad and sinful.  And as my husband reminded me, Jesus has paid for each and every sin. Therefore, it’s not only POINTLESS but a display of lack of faith as well as a symptom of FALSE PRIDE to beat myself up.  Kinda like carrying out the old Catholic church ritual.

From those thoughts on my early morning walk, came the heart-lifting reminder and sure word that God is working ALL things for my good and His glory and even this humiliating/image-busting “it’s not like me to do….XYZ” event is in His Hand.

So I let the overeating of the previous evening go.  Just like that.  I haven’t yet processed the notion that all those years of self-absorption with food, débuting with 9 years of bulimia and the 32 years since then have been sovereignly allowed/planned by God. But this kairos moment is another reminder that God has called us to reason from His truth.  As Abraham Kuyper so reassuringly proclaimed:

  • “There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry, Mine!”

one square inch

My ‘stuff’ is included in that ‘square inch’; God IS working all the misery of my own doing as well as the misery that intersects my life from other second causes.  The God who created the universe and all that is in it IS the First Cause, or He is No cause. We can’t have it both ways.

My comfort is further bolstered by this account of wandering souls, stuck in misery of their own making:

Psalm 107: 10 to 14 –There were those who dwelt in darkness and the shadow of death, prisoners in misery and chains because they had rebelled against the words of God and spurned the counsel of the Most High.  Therefore, He humbled their heart with labor; they stumbled and there was none to help.  Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble; He saved them out of their distresses.  He brought them out of darkness and the shadow of death, and broke their bands apart.

How to use Logic to make a decision

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There’s a meeting I SHOULD go to, but I don’t want to.  And I feel guilty.  What to do?

As I was pondering this, I started thinking about why I feel guilty?  Doing so brought up some pre-suppositions that actually govern my life.

Since this is my 4th year of teaching (i.e. learning) logic to 8th graders, it occurred to me that I ought to flush out these unspoken major premises and see if they are legitimate principles for making decisions in my life.

What kind of meeting is the one I am angsting over?  A monthly women’s group.  The focus for November is to pull together baby scrapbooks for new moms from the Crisis Pregnancy Center.  Most of these brave mothers are financially strapped and providing a partially-started book is a tangible way to show love.  What a great cause!

Here are my selfish reasons for not going –

1)    I don’t like going out at night once I’ve come home from work

  • It means rushing dinner
  • It means missing an evening discussion with my husband
  • It means missing out on prized and precious reading time

2)    I don’t like doing crafts

3)    This is optional: I have no particular role to fill accept as attendee

So why would I go? – Here are some reasons

  • People expect me to attend
  • I like people to think well of me
  • I feel guilty when I don’t do what people expect of me
  • What people think of me is important to me

So my syllogism looks like this:

Premise 1 – I should do what I imagine people expect me to do

Premise 2 – I imagine that the women of the church expect me to attend

Conclusion – Tf, I should go to this meeting

*

If the above syllogism is sound (valid in form and true in its two premises), then why don’t I use that same reasoning for serving in the nursery?

After all, I did serve once.  I didn’t like it.  I haven’t been back and  – yet – I don’t feel guilty.

What is the difference?  I think it can be found in premise # 2 – I don’t imagine that the women of the church expect me to do nursery.  But the women’s group is different.  I attended most of the monthly meetings last year and haven’t since July, all for reasonable conflicts.  But I don’t have a conflict this time.  I just don’t want to go.  But the leader of the group and I interact occasionally.  There is no one with the nursery with whom I interact on a regular basis.  So I don’t feel ‘accountable’ to any particular person.  But this gal is different.  I know I would miss out on an occasion to encourage her in her service.

Hmm, now that I have thought this through, I actually want to go.  I want to go in order to support the sponsor of this group.  And that is a positive reason, not a reason born out of guilt.

Here’s the new syllogism

Premise 1Attending events in order to support and encourage the leadership is a good reason

Premise 2I can support this women’s ministry by attending in November

ConclusionTf, I will attend in November

 

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