Handling It

Feb28I frequently hear people say that God won’t send us more than we can handle, and I’m coming to think that’s a terribly unsound bit of theology.

I have been very distracted the last few months. With the end of our sabbatical looming, I felt the pressure of questions unanswered, decisions pending, the future in general waiting to be sorted and straightened out. And, armed with almost a year of rest, prayer, and reflection, I set out to “handle” it.

The problem is that, in truth, we are utterly powerless. From the next breath we take, to our next meal, to next week, we don’t really control anything. But we are so deceived about the scope of our abilities that we actually think we determine our own destiny.

And so we struggle and scheme and worry, trying to handle things. We lose sleep, our minds churn, we fret and frazzle ourselves devising endless scenarios and solutions.

In the past weeks I have been a foolish sheep, scrambling off on my own to discover “greener” pastures. I have been Martha, worried and bothered by many things. I have been Peter sinking in the water—focused on the waves, the wind, the storm.

I got so busy trying to figure things out that I forgot my most basic responsibility: to keep my eyes fixed on Him—to surrender, to trust, to rest. I forgot to let Him handle it.

Now, I know what you are going to say. “I can’t just do nothing. If I stop now everything will come crashing in on me. I’m barely keeping my head above water as it is.”

I understand. I, too, am a problem-solver and a fixer. I have this optimistic idea that if I just try hard enough—work, think, even pray hard enough—that I will be able to unravel all the uncertainties and see the path clearly before me.

But the truth is, that simply is not within my power. My sole responsibility is to keep my eyes, heart, mind focused exclusively on Him—and sometimes that’s even a bit more than I can manage. All those other things that clamor for my energy and attention are diversions.

I am not saying our various roles and responsibilities are unimportant. I am simply suggesting that the surest way to excel in those areas is to stop striving so hard and simply sit at Jesus’ feet. It might seem like we are shirking our duties, but in actuality, spending time in His presence is the only way to be the best spouse, parent, worker, friend, we can be.

I am not saying He expects me to be inert. I think He asks me to come to Him minute by minute, moving when He does, only as far as He shows me and no further. He desires me to be utterly dependent on Him, and patient with His process and His timing. Every decision, every step should be His call.

This is not particularly comfortable. We prefer to have a bit more say in the matter. How tempting it is to step in and take control! “Don’t worry God, this is a no-brainer. I’ve got this one; I’ll take it from here. I can handle it.”

I believe God sends us things we can’t handle every day. But we are too stubborn to realize it, and we exhaust ourselves trying to manage in our own strength. We miss the joy, confidence, and peace that could be ours if we just kept Him as our center and our focus, and allowed Him to handle things.