Thursday, February 9, 2012

The Sovereignty of God

I had a blog post all ready on attribute #5: the sovereignty of God. To be honest, this is an attribute I'm sometimes uncomfortable with, so I had this whole thing written out, balancing our free will and choice with God's omniscience and sovereignty - that He is in sovereign control, that His plan cannot be thwarted, but that he allows us to choose the narrow or the wide, obedience or disobedience.

But I really felt like none of that was what God wanted me to share. This isn't a blog post about theology - it's about His attribute of sovereignty. So, instead, I'd like to share one of the most powerful moments in my life when I have seen God's sovereignty.

The verse in Acts says, "And [He] has determined their preappointed times and the boundary of their dwellings. As one theologian puts it, "Divine sovereignty means God is God in fact, and in name, that He is on the throne of the universe, directing all things, working all things 'after the counsel of His will.'"

For some, the way life happens is just by chance, by karma (or, by the way, the biblical principle of sowing and reaping??), or by fate, as if fate were something God-like, the work of the universe, the stars aligning, etc. But, as Christians, we believe in God's sovereignty. Jeremiah 29:11 is often quoted, but I love that it says He knows the plans He has for me. Regardless of my circumstances or what is before me - whether good or bad - I can trust that it's within God's sovereign plan for my life. Not to be cliché, but I can truly have a hope for my life because I know that He works all things to the good of those who love Him. That doesn't mean life will always be good; it means regardless of what I face, it will strengthen me, sanctify me, conform me, and refine me. Anything He allows to happen, anything the enemy tries to do, or anything I choose in my flesh - He knows, and He works according to His plan for my life.

So, my story. I never blogged this story because I think, at the time, it was too real to process. In the summer of 2010, Hal and I took a mission trip to Guatemala. I am not exaggerating when I say within two days of our trip (Day 8 and 9), there was a volcanic eruption in Guatemala City, an earthquake, landslides, and a tropical storm. Because "news" in a third-world country isn't delivered quite as quickly or (I can't believe I'm about to say this...) accurately as it does in the U.S., we had no idea what was going on. We knew about the volcano; we knew nothing else. And so, our team takes off in a fifteen-passenger van to drive back to Guatemala City because we think it's okay to do so. The eruption is over and (supposedly) where we are going in the city, the volcanic ash is not too bad.

Unfortunately, we were heading into the middle of a tropical storm (what had been a hurricane and was now "on land") that was causing landslides on the highway. This highway was the major highway in Guatemala, so it was our only route to the city. However, because it was cut out of the side of the mountain, the falling boulders from the wind and rain of the storm could literally send your vehicle over the other side of the mountain. With only two lanes of "road," there was little wiggle room even to swerve. As we drove, there were moments when huge boulders would fall literally a few feet in front of our van, but we would brake just in time, or these rocks would fall just seconds after we passed. We crossed two bridges that - not long after we passed by - completely fell because of the force of the flooding waters. Did I mention the highway is laid out next to a river, as well?

When we arrived in Antigua (because we could not actually get to Guatemala City), we learned that the officials had closed the highway only half an hour to an hour after we completed our trip because so many had died or were injured. At that point, the number we heard for the death toll was less than a hundred; by the morning and the next few days, we would learn that it was over two hundred. Just on that road - not from the volcano, not from the earthquake; just from landslides and flooding on the same road we took, on the same day we took it, at the same time we were traveling.

For 11 hours, we were on this road. What was only about 280 miles took 11 hours because we could only drive 10 or 20 miles an hour, in case we needed to brake; not to mention, we could barely see because of the sheets of rain. I seriously prepared myself to be in an accident or die. At the time, I don't even think we knew the severity of the storm. But we prayed that God would protect us.

I truly see that day as miraculous. I've never experienced the full wrath of a natural disaster. But I see God's sovereign hand, acting in that situation. When the possibility - even the likelihood - of death was so near, He saved us.

God's sovereignty is real. However, we have to submit to Him, to bring our hearts into alignment with His plan. Will He let us get off path? Absolutely. We get to choose. Choose today to rest in the sovereignty of His will, to find peace in the comfort of His plan, and to submit yourself to His path and His boundaries.
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