Date: Friday, July 12
Scripture: Acts 10:34-48
Verse: The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astounded that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on the Gentiles, for they heard them speaking in tongues and extolling God. (Acts 10:45-46a)
When I was fresh out of seminary, I thought I had figured out how God worked. I had a Masters of Divnity degree, literally the mastery of the knowledge of God. I was pretty sure God worked through reason and logic, and given enough time I would be able to figure most of it out. Then I got appointed to my first church. A woman in the congregation was diagnosed with cancer. We prayed and had healing services, and after her surgery they decided they did not need to do chemotherapy because the cancer was completely gone from her system. Another couple in that small church had a baby I baptized in the NICU in the middle of the night because he was never supposed to be well enough to come home from the hospital. Within months I had seen evidence of some miraculous healing. Another woman in the church did some crazy stuff giving away groceries to families who had been laid off by the biggest employer in the area. Her family was worried about her. She knew she was doing what God had called her to do.
At first I was weirded out by all of this that made no sense but was obviously of God. God wasn’t fitting into my seminary-trained, logical box box where I was trying to squeeze him. I began to think about God differently. I began to realize he was out of my control.
Control is a seductive illusion. We like to believe we are in control of people around us, our circumstances, and seek to control our own emotions. Additionally, we try to control the work of God in our lives and the world around us. One of the great keys of life is learning to sort between that which is within our control and that which is beyond it.
I wish I could tell you I learned back then to be comfortable when I am out of control, and trust that God was always in control. But I’m still learning. I’m getting better, but I still struggle to give up on those things I cannot control, and only focus on those I can. More importantly, I grow ever more comfortable with God being far beyond my control. I have become fond of saying, “Any god that fits in my mind, is no god at all.”
When Peter saw God shower these Gentiles with the Holy Spirit, reliving his own Pentecost moment, there was a renewal of his sense of being out of control. God was doing something that did not fit his paradigm. He needed a new one. Kinda like me those first couple of years out of seminary.
Prayer: Remind me again, Lord Jesus Christ, it is ok to surrender to control to you. Amen.
Action: Open yourself up to be surprised by God.
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