Thursday, March 26, 2009

Putting things in perspective....again

As I was driving this afternoon, I was surprised by a new perspective on my relationship with God. Some time ago, I was involved in a business venture that was completely frustrating. A competitor approached us and asked for help in running his business. You see, my family has been in the travel business for more than 20 years, and I, myself, have been involved with the agency for the last 15. We have seen the industry go through a number of big changes and have managed to survive, and prosper, through them all. This competitor, although a businessman, did not have any experience in the travel industry. So, as he was waiting out his contracts, he asked us if we would help.

We arranged a situation that was mutually beneficial and had a plan to help him recoup as much money as possible (or at least not lose any more) and then absorb his business once his contractual obligations were fulfilled. It was a good plan. It should have worked for both parties. What we failed to factor in, however, was his inability to truly relinquish control. For nearly a year we tried to use our experience and knowledge to make changes in the way the business was run. But, we were handcuffed at every turn. I was given the task of managing the office, but not given the authority to do so. He came in every day and questioned everything and still played the role of boss. The employees were confused and didn't know to whom they should listen. On top of everything, he had also created a hostile work environment where the employees were terrified to do anything for fear of being yelled at or made to feel stupid. It was awful on more levels than I can say. It was one of the most frustrating experiences of my life. I would come home every day completely exhausted from the drain of it. I couldn’t understand why he would ask for our help and yet ignore every suggestion and resist every change. Didn't he come to us? Aren't we the ones who have experience and knowledge?

hmmmmmm. What does that sound like? Yes. That sounds exactly like they way I often handle things in my own life. I will have moments of clarity where I know that the best thing to do is place my life, my plans, hopes and dreams in the hands of the One who made me. I know, in my heart, that He knows what's best for me and what will only cause me pain. He created me with a purpose and a plan in mind. Who better to allow complete control of my life than the One who holds everything in His hands and does all things well?

Ouch.

I'm just like that business owner who couldn't let go. I know that the best thing for me is to give complete control to the Father, but I don't really do it. I hold onto pieces and gradually take back more and more. I'm a person who likes to have control over situations. I'm very cautious and I like to know where I’m going. I like to have a plan. And, I actually like to have a number of back up plans, just in case the original plan doesn't work out. I do not like to leave control over my life in the hands of anyone. And, too often, that includes the One who created me.

I was talking to my cousin today and she was telling me of her plans. Then, she said, "but, God looks at our plans and laughs, right? So..who knows?" And, she's right. "In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps" (Proverbs 16:9). Psalm 2 says, "Why do the nations conspire and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers gather together against the Lord and against His Anointed One. 'Let us break their chains,' they say, 'and throw off their fetters.' The One enthroned in heaven laughs; the Lord scoffs at them all."

I've often wondered at the Israelites and how they could go astray so many times. I have never understood how they could walk across the Red Sea on dry land and then turn around and worship another god. But, I do it too. Days like today remind me that I am just like them. I pray that each day I get closer and closer to staying true. I pray that one day I will really let go of the things I hold so tightly and find the freedom the comes with giving them into the Father's hand. Maybe having a visual and an emotional association with this failed business venture and overbearing owner will help me remember to not be like that in my relationship with the Lord.

At least I know the Lord has a sense of humor and can laugh at me in my attempts to do it on my own. That's strangely comforting...to be seen as a stubborn child who is loved so much by her Father that He lets her make her mistakes and catches her when she falls.

Praise God that He loves us like that! Where would we be without His grace?

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