I was sitting on a rumbling plane in Chicago, waiting for the painfully slow pilot to push us back from the gate. No one seemed to be in a hurry that morning. Not the airline nor the stewards. Even the ground controllers outside my window appeared to be dragging their feet.
I blinked the grit from my eyes. I wasn’t faring much better. The stale air blowing through the circular vents overhead wasn’t helping. Everyone seemed sluggish…except for the four-year-old boy seated behind me in 22 F.
The squirming tyke with his high-pitched voice was chattering nonstop, barely stopping for breath, peppering his Dad with question after question.
“Why are dese seats so big?”
“Will we get ice cream on dis plane?”
“Will we be flying into outer space?”
I found myself smiling at his Junior Asparagus style voice and contagious enthusiasm. I set down the book I was trying to read as God impressed a directive into my heart.
The boy had apparently pressed his face up against the window, for his voice sounded muffled and mushed. “Why are dose men waving deir arms?”
“They signal the pilot and other workers where to go,” his father patiently replied. “The plane is big and there’s a lot going on. The men help the pilot see all around him so we don’t bump into anything.”
The boy squirmed. “What are dose little trucks for?”
“Those trucks bring different things to the plane.” I heard a smile in the father’s voice. “Some bring fuel. Others carry our suitcases.”
The boy grew silent for a moment when another vehicle must have caught his eye. “What about that one, Daddy? What’s that truck for?”
The father looked at the open-air truck carrying spiked pallets. “I’m sorry, buddy. I have no idea what those are used for.”
The boy was quiet.
The father leaned in. “I wish I could tell you the answer. Are you upset I don’t know?”
The little boy giggled. “Don’t be silly. I don’t need all the answers. I just like asking you questions and having fun with you!”
And then I knew why God had me eavesdrop on their sweet conversation. The boy in 22 F was teaching me, and anyone else who was willing to listen, a beautiful lesson.
We are an answer-driven people. We want to know why.
Why did I lose my job? Why is my health failing? Why is my friend battling so hard when he has given his life to God? Why does it seem like the cruel people flourish while the good guys barely scrape by? Why was my child born “different”? Why doesn’t my spouse love me anymore?
We want answers. They give us a false sense of control. When we beg God to know the ‘whys’, what we are really saying is, “I need to know the plan. God owes me the details. I want to be the one in the driver’s seat.”
I’m going to let you in on a little secret. Are you ready?
In the big scheme of things you and I have no control. None. Control is an illusion. Period.
I can’t control how my boss, or anyone else, will treat me. I can’t control or understand how good and bad falls on both the just and unjust, nor can I control it when airlines lose my luggage, when a loved one dies, an unexpected diagnosis, or a thousand other things the human heart hopes to never hear.
We can beg and plead for answers all day long. Sometimes we get them. Sometimes we don’t. But in all of our crying for answers, we can miss out on the most important part of walking through the unknown…that is experiencing the God Who is walking through it with us.
A friend recently asked me if I thought my recent struggles with my voice and gastroparesis were due to an attack by the enemy or because God is closing a door in a specific part of my ministry. I told her I had searched and prayed for months but honestly, I had no idea. And that’s okay. I’ve learned to be content in not having the answers. Instead, God has taught me how to redirect my focus into the joy of simply being with Him. In knowing Him in a deeper way, a relationship that isn’t dependent on answers because my trust isn’t based on what He does but is grounded on Who He is.
I want a relationship with my Father the way the little boy in 22 F looked up to his. ” I don’t need all the answers. I just like asking you questions and having fun with you…”
To feel wholly and completely loved, even during the times when questions flood our hearts…there’s nothing better than unshakable faith in a Father who is working all things out for our good and His glory.
I couldn’t help but think of Chaka Heinze’s talk on purpose, on embracing our God-given names and living as Imago Dei, as I read Tara’s post. Our value is not dependent on what we do, or even on having all the answers, and our purpose is immutable.
If you missed last Saturday’s Wholly Loved conference, I want to encourage you to come to one of our upcoming events. Because when we live wholly loved, everything changes, and our lives become characterized by hope, peace, a joy that’s not dependent on our circumstances, and surrender. The uncertainties of life don’t have to rock our world. Or, invite us to come to your next church event.
Let’s talk about this. When has uncertainty or perhaps a difficult time drawn you closer to God? What helps you stay close to Him or draw near to Him when you’re going through a rough or uncertain patch? What are some ways He’s drawn you to Himself? Share your thoughts, encouragement, and wisdom with us, because we can all learn from one another!