Here is something for you to ask yourself…
Is God ‘enough’?
Perhaps you’re thinking to yourself “come on now, that’s an easy one! Of course He is!”. Or maybe you are in the middle of a really difficult time and all you can see is the challenge ahead of you. Either way; take a moment to really ponder that question.
Recently I’ve encountered situations where I can’t seem to obtain the control I feel I need over my own life. Sometimes it feels like I am being swept along and I’m just there for the ride. For some of us this is a very unpleasant sensation. We desire control over all circumstances to feel like we are maintaining balance in life.
Recently, my wife and I had a month where everything seemed to slip out of our grasp. Both of our cars broke down, and we all know that when vehicles decide to break they aren’t cheap to fix. So we ended up with a couple of huge unexpected expenses. Then both of our kids got sick. My wife must have been into emerg 3 times with our 6 month old who was having a hard time breathing. Then our sump pump broke, and I found myself doing emergency plumbing during a major snow thaw. It felt like the ‘interruptions’ that took us off track were constant. It was as though there was always something biting at my heel and it got to the point where nothing really surprised me anymore.
Eventually my wife and I decided it was time to regroup. We decided that on one particular day after work I was going to grab a bottle of wine on my way home and we were going to put our feet up and relax. It felt as though we had just missed each other. With all that had been going on in the previous weeks we had been pouring ourselves out to our children, our work and others. We needed to make time for US.
Some of you may know that I’m a Police Officer. My work is unpredictable at times. On this particular day I was suppose to be done my shift at 6pm. At 5 o’clock I sent a text to my wife to let her know that I was on time. It went something like: “Hey baby, I’m on time! And I cant wait to see you!”. I couldn’t wait to go home and see my beautiful wife, cuddle on the couch...relax. Fast forward about 40 minutes. I sent her another text: “Gonna be late, got a call”. As you can imagine; my mood changed drastically. I felt SO angry! I’m thinking to myself, “can I not just catch a break!?”.
As I’m driving to this call, white knuckled and ready to loose my temper, these questions start running through my head. “God, I thought you liked marriage? Because right now doesn’t seem like you do.”. “Have I sinned or done something to offend you? Have I upset you in some way Lord that you are punishing me?”. I just didn’t get it. I didn’t understand why. I ended up being at least 3 hours late and by the time I got home we were both exhausted.
Before bed that night I took some time to talk to God. I started praying, and I wrestled with Him for a while. It wasn’t long before He asked me just one question. He said: “Luke, am I enough? In these unpleasant circumstances, when nothing is working out, AM I ENOUGH?” I must say that I struggled with the question. When hardship endures, when things aren’t pleasant, when I look at some of the ugliness that life can present; is that what I truly feel in my heart?
In the coming days I reflected on this question. It challenged me, and it struck the core of who I am. I realized I wasn’t putting God first in my life. My desires and my need for order came before God and my relationship with Him. Any time something happened that felt out of my control it frustrated me and created an attitude of resentment towards God.
While I was thinking about this, I came across a passage in 2 Corinthians, chapter 11. Paul is speaking to a church here…
“They say they are they Hebrews? So am I. And they say they are Israelites? So am I. Are they descendants of Abraham? So am I. Are they servants of Christ? I know I sound like a madman, but I have served him far more! I have worked harder, been put in prison more often, been whipped times without number, and faced death again and again. Five different times the Jewish leaders gave me thirty-nine lashes. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked. Once I spent a whole night and a day adrift at sea. I have traveled on many long journeys. I have faced danger from rivers and from robbers. I have faced danger from my own people, the Jews, as well as from the Gentiles. I have faced danger in the cities, in the deserts, and on the seas. And I have faced danger from men who claim to be believers but are not. I have worked hard and long, enduring many sleepless nights. I have been hungry and thirsty and have often gone without food. I have shivered in the cold, without enough clothing to keep me warm.
Then, besides all this, I have the daily burden of my concern for all the church. Who is weak without my feeling that weakness? Who is led astray, and I do not burn with anger?
It struck me that after Paul lists the many challenges and trials that he faced while a being a Christian, he says “then, besides all this”. Paul is basically saying ‘the things that I just listed aren’t my point, so listen up!’. He then goes on to state how concerned he is for the church as a whole and for the individual people in it. It’s a daily burden for him. He acknowledges the trouble he has been through but wants us to know his main concern is not for his own life. His hearts desire is to see God move and to see people saved. He says he burns with anger when people are led astray.
Later, Paul goes on to write in Philippians 1: 21-24
“For me, living is for Christ and dying is even better. Yet if I live, that means fruitful service for Christ. I really don’t know which is better. I’m torn between two desires. Sometimes I want to live, and sometimes I long to go to be with Christ. That would be far better for me. But it is better for you that I live.“
Paul longed to be with Christ. It wasn’t a fleeting thought. He didn’t say ‘Some day when I’m old and have lived a full life it’ll be nice to meet Jesus.’ No, Paul knew that his life was not his own. He knew that God was the only thing that mattered. No matter what he went through; his focus, his thoughts, and his heart always belonged to God. Serving Christ was his only purpose in life. I love the line “For me, living is for Christ.”. It encourages me because like Paul, we are all called follow Jesus. We are all called to give our lives and hearts to Him.
As you reflect upon the question I asked earlier, are you truly living for Christ? In every situation, every challenging moment, in every breath; is God enough? Or does the state of your relationship with Him hang on how good things are going?
For me, this is a constant walking-out. I know that new challenges will arise. Parenting will always be tough, our cars will break down again, and I’m sure I will end up being late a few more times in my career (I’ve only got 27 more years to go). There will always be the temptation to fall back into a mindset of self-servitude. I don’t think that it’s wrong to feel anger or disappointment in the midst of unpleasant circumstances. But dealing with emotion is especially important when we tend to distance ourselves from God in our efforts to gain control of situations.
In conclusion, I encourage you to consider this story the next time you come up against something that tests you or stretches you. Put God at the front. Let the truth of His goodness and love overshadow the difficulties you face. I can’t guarantee that everything will get better or work out the way you want it to. But He will never leave you, and He will always give the strength and courage you need to press on. He is and always will be enough.