Long before the days of mandatory seat belts and car seats, some road trips we’d take Dad used to sit one of us kids on his lap and let us “drive”. Once we were out of the city and onto the highway we’d clamor to see whose turn it was to “drive”. The lucky child would then climb over seat of the ’68 Malibu, into the front and slide behind the wheel onto Dad’s lap and grab hold of the steering wheel.
Of course unbeknownst to us, Dad was controlling the wheel with his left hand. This explains why any time we would begin to turn our gaze downward he would urgently exclaim “Keep your eyes on the road!” Having been reminded of how critical it was to focus on the demanding task of driving our eyes would snap back up to where we were heading.
I’m not advocating this practice but I have to admit I did the same thing with our boys. Before anyone sends me scolding messages it was only on carefully chosen, rarely travelled back roads of Saskatchewan.
When I allowed my firstborn to “drive” he was always very cautious and responsible, taking his duty very seriously. Not so much with the middle child. With a glint in his eye he’d suddenly try to swerve and take us into the ditch just because it looked like fun. I had to be ready at any second to grab tightly on to the wheel to straighten us out and keep us from having to walk home.
There is in this a very limited and partial picture of God’s sovereignty in our lives, but it may not be what you think. The obvious parallel is that we are “driving” our lives, but that God is truly the one in charge of where we are going. But if you read into this that since he’s in control he will keep you from hitting the ditch, as it were, and your life will work out as you think it should you are missing what’s really important.
The more profound picture is that you and I are not really in control of where we’re going, but we’re sitting on our Father’s lap. Even when the road gets rough and we can’t imagine how we can bear any more . . . You’re sitting in your Father’s lap. Forgive me for the paraphrase, but even when I drive through the valley of death itself I’m sitting in my Father’s lap.
I’m typically a pretty laid-back, easy-going kind of guy, which only makes fact that lately I have become rather easily frustrated all the more perplexing. It hasn’t even been over important issues. It’s been relatively little, non-life-changing things and with the people I care the most about, and it’s driving me nuts. My insides start churning and I get these little conversations gong in my head, it’s even kept me from falling asleep some nights.
So finally I asked God where this was coming from; I don’t like this, I don’t want to be like this, I can’t stop this – Help! I’m not sure what I was expecting but it certainly wasn’t what God gave me.
Frustration occurs when something we desire is somehow blocked, whether it’s a thing (tangible or intangible), a plan, or an action (initiating or ceasing). Normally we think that some person or circumstance is the cause of our frustration. But what God showed me is that the frustration of my desire was sent from him. Or if you’re not comfortable with that phraseology, he at times allows our desires to be frustrated. Why? First to remind us of what our primary desire should be: for Jesus. And second to sharpen that desire for Jesus. Let me illustrate.
If I have been sitting around the house all day just being lazy by supper time I’m usually not too hungry and not really interested in good healthy meal. And even if I do eat a good meal it may taste good but not spectacular. Conversely if I’ve been working all day, and haven’t had time to stop for lunch come supper time I’m looking for a real meal and the same food I would be ho-hum about other days now tastes fantastic.
Romans 8:22-25 talks about looking forward to heaven and speaks of eagerly anticipating that which we don’t yet have. You could say it’s sort of a holy frustration, a desire heightened and sharpened because it’s not yet met. The truth is any frustration, if we will humble our pride before God (see James 4:1-10), can lead us to the same outcome: a sharpened desire for intimacy with Jesus. That’s the sort of thing Paul is talking about back in Romans 8:28 when he says that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love him and are called according to his purposes.
So we can say thank you Father, for sending me frustration.
It’s that time of year again when people resolve to do all kinds of things they know are good for them but haven’t been able to make themselves do. Getting deeper into the Bible is one of those. I have marvelled at the passion that the author of Psalm 119 had for the law. I’ve found it helps to understand what he meant by “law”.
Vine’s Expository Bible Dictionary says the Hebrew word is “primarily signifies direction, teaching, and instruction.” It comes from a verb meaning to throw or cast, specifically and arrow which was used figuratively meaning to point out or teach. In this understanding, says Vine, the law “is not restriction or hindrance, but instead the means whereby one can reach a goal or ideal.” The Old Testament Law was given as a means to teach and to point and lead people to God. Unfortunately the means became the end ultimately becoming a burden. The question remains why was the Psalmist so passionate about the law? I think an illustration is in order.
One of my favorite places in the world was always my Grandparents farm and I loved making that trip. We’d leave Edmonton on hwy 16 crossing the North Saskatchewan River and then taking the second exit onto hwy 14a. That would take us past refinery row. I loved going past all those huge tanks because I knew that meant we were on our way to “the farm”.
That road curved eastward becoming hwy 14. Shortly thereafter we would pass a little country school we kids were certain must be the one my mom’s youngest brother attended even though we were still two and a half hours away. We were just so excited to get to the farm.
Then I’d count off the towns; Tofield, Riley, Holden, Viking, Irma, our excitement building as each one fell behind us. And then Wainwright! The last town before the border. And of course we had to look for the famous buffalo.
Then as the farm land rolled more and more into hilly range land I eagerly waited for the tell-tale sign we’d crossed over into Saskatchewan – the bump and bounce as we left the smooth Alberta highways. Woo hoo! We’d be past Marsden in just minutes and hugging Grandpa and Grandma in no time!
I loved that drive, not because it in itself was so wonderful, but because of where it took me. I love the law, the Bible, because it takes me to God.