“Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths you are there; if f I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.” Psalm 139: 7-10
I like control, don't you?
I mean, I don't have to author every plan - but I like knowing that someone has a plan, and I absolutely am euphoric when that someone shares the plan with me! Y'all, I don't even have to edit it; I can play "follow the leader" provided that the leader is right, has thought about future implications of the plan, has considered a plan B, and has taken into account whatever I think needs to be accounted….Ha!
Yea, I really like control.
More than once, our good God has provided me with lessons about my dependency upon control, and true to form, I may or may not have learned the lesson as deeply as I should have. Each time I feel the gentle sting when I fail to rely on my faith and choose to believe in my ability to control, I am reminded of the first time God whispered,
"Why do you fight me?"
I was 21 years old and working at Kanakuk as the leader of the Kitchikomos, a group of girls serving 300-500 kids three meals a day. We weren't counselors, but we were adopted by one cabin each session and invited to participate in different activities with them. A cabin of nine-year-old girls adopted me and wanted to learn how to water ski.
One of three "adults," I chose to jump into the lake and assist the girls as they readied themselves for the boat to take off and whisk them over the waters of the lake.
The cold, and I do mean cold, water shocked my system after I jumped in, a distinct contrast to the warm, muggy Ozark day. I swam away from the boat, caught the ski rope, and encouraged the first fresh-faced nine-year-old cherub to jump in and swim to me. One of the camp counselors slid two skis into the water, pushing them in our direction.
Now, a nine-year-old girl might weigh 60-70 pounds - maybe. If she just stands up and keeps her hips back, the boat will have no issue pulling her out of the water and letting her fly atop its glassy surface. But the girls don't know that, and they fight for control.
Their body weight is supported by the life vest, the skis, and my hand on their backs. They are connected to the boat by the ski rope, and yet every ounce of those sixty to seventy pounds is fighting against every single mechanism there to help them. It didn't matter my approach with each girl; they each had to wrestle with the skis, fight against the life vest, beg me to hold on tighter, and if I didn't, one or two would grab onto me!
Each girl needed to feel in control.
One by one, each baby girl finally trusted the skis, the vest, the boat, the rope, and the fact that either the boat or I would be right next to them again if the girl failed to get up on her skis. We would be there ready to reload their feet into the skis, reposition the rope, repeat simple instructions - "little bend in the knees, a little bend in the elbows, just stand up and make sure your hips are forward." Then, when each girl finally did trust, off she and the boat of giggly, squirmy, delightfully screaming nine-year-olds would go - leaving me treading water in their wake.
After one of the last rookies took off, yelping in satisfaction, I repositioned my ball cap, shielding my eyes against the glare of the afternoon Missouri sun. As I settled, I heard the clearest, deepest, inaudible voice ask, "Why do you fight me?"
Treading water alone in the lake made me feel small - but when I heard God's voice in my soul surrounded by nothing but the lake's waves, I was finite.
My efforts -futile.
I looked at the nearby bank where rocks let the water lap against them or momentarily overtake them, where tall reeds rhythmically swayed with wind and waves, where sunlight surrendered to shade. Then, I looked back at the horizon; the boat full of sweet girls danced atop the sunlit lake, and I knew I was just like those little girls - fighting against every element God had given me to trust - for something finite, like control.
I don't think you can even call me a recovering control freak—deep sigh.
I still fight for control, for authorship of the story, so the characters' lives end the way I wrote it to happen, and I still find myself alone in that proverbial lake shaking my head when I hear his probing question again, "Why….. do you fight me?"
But I remain thankful that our good God hovers while I fight against the rope, the skis, and the life vest until I re-learn to surrender, to trust, and to believe in the ancient words:
"Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths you are there; if f I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast." Psalm 139: 7-10
Note to Reader: We all bring our different life experiences when we read any kind of literature - but especially Scripture; consequently, the body of the work will resonate uniquely with each of us. My goal is not to put the Holy Spirit in a box by saying or implying - "Here's what these words mean…" Instead, I hope you read each devotional knowing that God wants to speak to you too. Our experiences may be different, but we can all learn from each other's lives. God will meet you where you are, the same way he meets me if you ask him.