A few weeks ago for reasons I don't completely recall, Grace and I were returning home to a dark, empty house--just the two of us. I remember being struck by just how DARK it was that night, and Grace must have agreed. In her always simple yet usually profound way, she said something along the lines of, "Wow, God didn't even give us any starlight tonight, did he, Mom?" At the time, we just sort of laughed it off and stumbled our way to the house together, but that thought stayed with me. The more I considered it, the more I was thrilled at Grace's immediate recognition of God's control of the stars, but . . . I was also crazy convicted over my inability to so quickly attribute to God the power and control that he is due in so many areas of my life.
Seems so easy to realize we aren't in charge of making the stars come out, but then again, is it? I can literally recall times in my life when I've apologized to people when the weather wasn't exactly convenient during an event I had planned or outing I had organized. I've been upset not to be able to deliver up a perfectly sunny day when I invited people over for a picnic or when the fall colors weren't just what I hoped they would be when a visitor from the south joined me in New England in October. How stupid is that? Really dumb. But most of us probably aren't *quite* that bad with the obvious things, right? I mean, we know we can't control the weather and the stars.
But what about all those other areas we pretend we have control over? Our finances. Our families. Our churches. Our friends. The list could go on and on. How often do we silently feel responsible for things that are completely beyond our control? Moms, ever been embarrassed when your small child cried out in a restaurant, or on a plane, or (shudder) in *church* (those little pagans!)? Anyone ever struggle with certain people seeing your house or car and fearing they won't approve if it isn't "nice" enough? Have you ever wanted to crawl in a hole over something someone you're associated with said on facebook or twitter? Let's go a little deeper. Are you ashamed that you have family members or close friends who don't know the Lord, as though this is a reflection of you and your lack of ability to convert them? I'm not proud of it, but I have to admit I've had that moment. As though I have any more control over someone's heart and soul than I do over whether or not we can see the stars at night.
But back to the dark night. . . Later that evening as Grace and I got settled in, we came back around to the topic. We talked a great deal about what things we can control and what things we can't and learning to be content with God's ideas about the things that only he can control. As Grace put it, "So like if God wants it to be cloudy tonight, we shouldn't be grumpy about it. We should just know that he must have a good reason for that, right Mom?" ;-) "Absolutely." But then I added, "But look at all these candles over here. He gave us these candles and a way to light them, and he lets US decide whether or not the candles get lit. What do you think of that?" This led to all kinds of interesting discussions that I hope I handled well, although I'm never all that confident. (This is why I'm so addicted to prayer.) My hope in sharing with Gracie (and moreso preaching to MYSELF) was that we would both learn better to surrender to God all that we can't control without fretting about it, but also that we would not miss the small ways we can add light to the world too. We'll never be able to make the stars come out (or the light in someone's heart ignite), but we can sure light some candles in a dark room (and share the light of Scripture with yearning souls). Gracie reminded me of that so sweetly. I thought maybe someone else could use the reminder as well.