So, what does four year old Bud have to do with God’s sovereignty? Glad you asked. Bud was about four when he gave me a really helpful analogy for understanding a theological concept that has confounded the greatest minds of Christendom. Sadly, Aquinas, Augustine, Luther, and Calvin didn’t have Bud to help clarify the tension between sovereignty and free will. But thankfully, we do. So keep reading…
Here is the story behind my personal defining framework for the Lord’s sovereign rule in the Universe:
One morning many years ago, as our family was scurrying about grabbing some breakfast, Denise handed me a new jar of jelly and asked me to open it. With a little effort, I turned the lid and broke the seal. The jar was essentially open. However, I handed the jar to Bud and said, “Son, open this jar for your mother.” After a few false starts, Bud triumphantly removed the lid. He held it up and proclaimed, “I DID IT! I opened the jar. Dad couldn’t open it. But I did.” Uh huh. I remember thinking, “Well, son there’s a whole lot more went into that you know.” But mostly I just enjoyed his excitement and celebration.
As I thought about the scenario later that day, it occurred to me that I am a lot like Bud in how I relate to the Lord. I tend to overestimate how much I am actually doing in shaping my achievements and failures while I consistently underestimate God’s role in them. In the above story, it is important to note that Bud actually did do something. He just didn’t do as much as he thought he did. From his perspective, his efforts accomplished a great feat. From my perspective, he was a small but significant part of a bigger story. Even though, he didn’t realize it, with or without him, that jelly jar was going to return to Denise open. I would see to that. I truly didn’t need Bud to make that happen. But I chose to allow him to participate in the activity. I think our Heavenly Father takes that same initiative as He manages the interests of His creation. It isn’t that our efforts aren’t real and have genuine impact. However, our contribution to life’s outcomes are fairly minimal. His omnipotence juxtaposed against my impotence is sobering but heartening. When I recognize that I am as clueless and weak as a four year old, I can rejoice in Him being absolutely invested and powerful. His plans for the ages don’t depend on me but I am blessed that He has chosen to include me. That’s pretty good news.
But dang…it’s Fortnight. Go out there and have some jelly on your biscuits. Just remember where it all came from.