Every New Years, instead of making resolutions, I try to look back over the year and make a list of “lessons learned.” This year I think I can honestly say one big lesson stands out above the rest. Any other lessons I learned either flowed out of this big lesson or led me back to it. It was such a fundamental shift in my thinking, I believe it will change the way I live for the rest of my life.
How It All Started
Sometime this past year I was listening to a podcast in which the speaker claimed the sovereignty of God lined almost every page of Scripture. That, to me, was a fascinating claim, and I wanted to see it for myself.
So there I was, diligently underlining in my Bible reading every word, phrase, or sentence that spoke directly about or in some way implied God’s sovereign work. And I realized I was underlining a lot. Do you know how many times God has said, “I will,” in the Bible? More than I could count. Sometimes I underlined whole chapters, page after page, that spoke of God’s sovereignty. Over and over again the prophets proclaim, “thus says the LORD,” and then the LORD accomplishes all he has said. All he has to do is speak, and it is done. “God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light.” From Genesis to Revelation, the Bible is packed with words that all cry out, “God is sovereign!”
How It Changed Me
After noting the sovereignty of God every day and every time I opened my Bible, the truth started to sink in. If this is true in the Bible, shouldn’t it be true in my own life? I know we believe that “all things work together for good,” but I’ve tended to only look for the “all things” when I need an explanation for why those “all things” weren’t going my way.
But God is really for us in all things. I discovered I was very poor at recognizing God’s sovereign hand in my own life. I was not in tune to his careful attention to detail, his quiet way of working, his beautifully loving means of shaping not just me, but everyone else in my own life. And I knew I didn’t look for his sovereign hand or trust him like I should, because I was way too uptight and fearful about so much in my life.
After looking for God’s sovereignty in my Bible, and underlining the evidence, God started teaching me to underline it in my life. And the recognition of God’s grace brought peace. It brought joy. It built my faith and encouraged my prayers. Truly, God has worked in so many ways this year I have probably forgotten more instances than I remember.
God in his sovereignty also teaches me how much I need to grow. When I fail to trust his sovereign hand, I feel so foolish for forsaking the One Who alone knows my future. When I coddle arrogant thoughts, I despise my pride for thinking I somehow could take credit for the grace of God in my life. Grace kills pride, and that is something we all can be thankful for. I don’t think I will ever get over that truth.