by Charles R. Swindoll
Isaiah 45:5-9; 46:8-11; Daniel 5:18-21
The bitter news of Dawson Trotman’s drowning swept like cold wind across Schroon Lake to the shoreline. Eyewitnesses tell of the profound anxiety, the tears, the helpless disbelief in the faces of those who now looked out across the deep blue water. Everyone’s face except one—Lila Trotman. Dawson’s widow. As she suddenly walked upon the scene a close friend shouted, “Oh, Lila . . . he’s gone. Dawson’s gone!” To that she replied in calm assurance the words of Psalm 115:3:
But our God is in the heavens;
He does whatever He pleases.
All of the anguish, the sudden loneliness that normally consumes and cripples those who survive did not invade that woman’s heart. Instead, she leaned hard upon her sovereign Lord.
As you read these words . . . does that seem strange to you? Does it seem unusual to refer to a tragic death as being God’s pleasure? Honestly now, do you think God’s control over us is total . . . or partial? Let’s allow His Word to speak on this deep subject:
You have enclosed me behind and before,
And laid Your hand upon me.
Your eyes have seen my unformed substance;
And in Your book were all written
The days that were ordained for me,
When as yet there was not one of them. (Psalm 139:5, 16)
Woe to the one who quarrels with his Maker—
An earthenware vessel among the vessels of earth!
Will the clay say to the potter, “What are you doing?” (Isaiah 45:9)
I am God, and there is no other;
I am God, and there is no one like Me, . . .
Saying, “My purpose will be established,
And I will accomplish all My good pleasure.” (Isaiah 46:9-10)
He does according to His will in the host of heaven
And among the inhabitants of earth;
And no one can ward off His hand
Or say to Him, “What have You done?” (Daniel 4:35)
There are more. Patiently, repeatedly, in a dozen different ways the Word makes the point. Accept it or not, God’s calling the shots. He’s running the show. Either He’s in full control or He’s off His throne. It’s as foolish to say He’s “almost sovereign” as it would be to say I’m “almost married” or Kennedy was “almost president” or the surgeon’s gloves are “almost sterile.”
If you’re trying to grasp all the ramifications of this great truth . . . don’t. You can’t anyway. Feverishly toiling to unravel all the knots can turn you into a fanatical freak . . . it will push you to the edge of your mental capacity . . . it will result in endless hours of theological hairsplitting. The finite can neverplumb the depths of the infinite . . . so don’t waste your time trying.
It was a glorious day when I was liberated from the concentration camp of fear . . . the fear of saying, “I don’t understand the reasons why, but I accept God’s hand in what has happened.” It was a greater day when I realized that nobody expected me to have all the answers . . . least of all God! If I could figure it all out, I’d qualify as His adviser, and Scripture makes it clear He doesn’t need my puny counsel. He wants my unreserved love, my unqualified devotion, my undaunted trust—not my unenlightened analysis of His ways.
One of the marks of spiritual maturity is the quiet confidence that God is in control . . . without the need to understand why He does what He does. Lila Trotman bore such a mark as she faced the ways of God that were “unsearchable . . . and unfathomable.”
What marks your life?