God is in charge. God is in control.
I’ve read many variations of those sentiments in the last week and, I’ll be honest, I’m not sure what they mean.
- An honest affirmation of someone’s faith in a God who ultimately has this whole crazy world under control in ways that don’t seem apparent to us now.
- A way to avoid investing in the process of making anything better or different. If God is in control, I’ll let God work this one out.
- Something we just say when we don’t have much else to say.
I’m uneasy with any of those responses these days. If they work for you, I certainly can’t take that away from you. But, they don’t work for me. I just don’t know what they really mean when we get down to specifics and how they provide comfort to:
- The three gay students who contacted me last Wednesday, anxious and fearful about their future.
- The freshman student at a local university whose personal space and safety was violated with a pencil scrawled note shoved under their door that threated his “kind” of person in this “new” America.
- The Muslim women accosted in her car by people screaming at her to get out of their country.
What does it mean to them to say, “God is in charge.” “God is in control.”?
Help me out.
And if you stick with that line of reasoning do we backtrack through human history and offer the same balm to all victims of threat or violence based on their race or creed or orientation? I don’t know that I have a right to say that.
So what does it mean? I don’t presume to have the final answer. But, let me offer a few guiding insights that I use to frame up my response in times such as these:
- God created the world in love, for love. That is my starting point. If you don’t agree with me on that, we will necessarily come to different conclusions. It’s simply my starting point.
- Love cannot be coerced or manipulated. For love to be love, it cannot seek to control the other person. In fact, love gives up a sense of control, of being in charge. And love does so for the sake of the other person’s freedom.
- Therefore, love can be rejected. Hatred and indifference and division can be chosen in relationship to others. They are not God’s desire or God’s intent for the world. But, based on a world designed in love, for love, hatred and indifference and division are possible. We see this being played out in myriad ways throughout history and certainly in our time.
- The presence of hate doesn’t diminish the promise of love. God, in my mind, has not chosen and will not choose a different path than love just because it doesn’t work out in all times and in all circumstances.
- God, in God’s wisdom or foolishness (I wonder sometimes), chose for that love to saturate a love-starved world through people like you and me.
What that means for me is simply this: Yes, God is in charge. God is in charge of the design of the world, the intent of love planted within us, the redemption that comes when we stumble and fall, and the decision to make us co-creators of a more loving world. Again, sometimes I wonder about God’s wisdom or foolishness in that decision. But, I believe the invitation stands.
Therefore, in the words of American poet, Clarissa Pinkola Estes,
Ours is not the task of fixing the entire world all at once, but of stretching out to mend the part of the world that is within our reach. Any small, calm thing that one soul can do to help another soul, to assist some portion of this poor suffering world, will help immensely. It is not given to us to know which acts or by whom, will cause the critical mass to tip toward an enduring good.
What is needed for dramatic change is an accumulation of acts, adding, adding to, adding more, continuing…
It’s Monday. What movements of enduring good will be part of your charge today? Peace. Kai