The God Who Provides Office Space, Or Our Moldable World

My mom’s a big believer that God has everything in his control. If she’s in the market for a new car, she will trust God to lead her to the perfect one. If she sees a free chair on the side of the road she interprets it as God’s direct provision for her, proof that he cares about her and her situation. I’m using actual examples.

This is of course not her original idea. You’ll hear all the time that God blessed so and so’s ministry by providing a building to lease. I naturally ask if that means that God also provided the Muslims with their new mosque or the atheists with their office space. Or if a movie is successful does that mean God has blessed it? Because you hear all the time of ministries that are growing, and the ministers claim it’s God blessing and ordaining their work.

I don’t throw my disagreement in my mom’s face nor do I bother challenging her – it’s not a boat that needs to be rocked. Though I disagree that God controls what job you end up in or that he provided a cheap dining room table on sale, I don’t really have the God’s control idea figured out. I can point out what I think he doesn’t control, but I have difficulty identifying what he does control.

Ultimately, though, as much fun as it is to speculate and try to crack the equation or solve the puzzle – we don’t know. And we won’t. It’s not as though a couple more years of serious hard thinking on the subject will gain us much.

You know what I realized the other day? Though we had God present on this earth for 30-plus years, he didn’t answer those sorts of questions. He didn’t even give any clues.  I don’t think Jesus was even interested in answering those sorts of questions – I think he was far more interested in talking about what power we do have. As far as I can tell, Jesus was a more practical type in this regard.

So instead of explaining all these things that above and beyond us, he focused on what we can do. Which is to say, quite a bit.

From day one I see God’s investment in us as people who can, well, do something. He gave us a blank earth upon which to build, develop and create, and he molded his church out of lowly, left out and second-class citizen types of people. Jesus commissioned his disciples and sent them off to do miraculous things. It’s really quite stunning.

Have you spent much time debating about what God orchestrates and what he doesn’t? Can such conversations gain us much? Why do you think Jesus didn’t address this issue?

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14 Responses to The God Who Provides Office Space, Or Our Moldable World

  1. Charlie: you ask some good questions and raise a few as well. As for me, what God controls/doesn’t control; what He provides/doesn’t provide is really not for me to answer or to even know the answer. aren’t there just some things that are beyond our ability to know? Maybe we are to just accept what is and express our gratitude to God for what is He has given us. That is not discounting “giving God the glory” but simply accepting His goodness and provision for us. I prefer, as hard as it is, to simply trust that He will bring all things to completion in His time. Is that too simplistic?

  2. Su says:

    I’ve had those conversations in the past, and came to pretty much the same conclusion: God has other things for me to do. And I imagine that Jesus didn’t address it for the same reason– he had too many other things to talk about. It’s hard for the human mind to take that and go with it, though.

  3. jay @ bethegospel says:

    ooooooooooo, good topic man! I read about christians in other countries who were threatened with their lives when it came to christmas services. Their prayer was probably “let us live a few more weeks to tell a few more people about you.” And as i go through my google reader my wife was watching Toddlers and Tiaras which is about kids and beauty contests. What caught my eye was a woman in a halter top wearing lots of mascara praying and asking God to help them perform well today.

    Two different prayers offered for two different reasons. What you said about your mom and the free chair made my mind go in this direction.

  4. David says:

    I don’t know – it’s pretty easy for me. When I hear God I do what he asks of me. Jesus said “the sheep know His [Father] voice. He also said “I do what I see the Father doing.” If we don’t hear God it is fruitless.

    So many churches are caught up in trying to act like Jesus, that many don’t know what the heck he is actually doing. They measure success in nickels and noses, and not in terms of obedience to God.

    God does care about things likes cars and furniture – even beauty pageants. It is not about control at all. God has set creation in motion, and for those that know him, he communicates wit them – well, if they want to listen. He has created a destiny for each one of us, but it is on His terms, not ours.

    So what happens when I don’t want to hear his voice? I don’t hear it.

    We are the children of God, and our Father cares about us, loves us and wants us to fulfill our purpose on earth – which for these that belie is His desire. No father wants bad things for his kids.

    • I think God has little interest in controlling all things, but is actually far more interested in seeing what we do with all the things he as set into motion.

      And a great reminder that God is our Father, and therefore doesn’t desire disaster for his children.

  5. Chris says:

    This is really interesting. It’s true, we have no idea what real persecution means.

    Think about this.

    Step 1 – People pray: “let us live a few more weeks to tell a few more people about you.”
    Step 2 – God hears this prayer and the people live on because they are faithful.
    Step 3 – The people continue to pray for God’s blessing and remain faithful in telling others about Him..
    Step 4 – God lengthens the lives of the people for their continued faithfulness.
    Step 5 – The people are blessed because of their faithfulness and now begin to thrive with long life and material blessings.
    Step 6 – The people being blessed by God are now comfortable and begin to ask for things like winning football teams, and the ability to persevere through “persecution” at the office. But they continue to remain faithful and try to tell others about Him. Their original motivation.

    Question. Where did it all go wrong? Or did it go wrong? Are the blessings on a nation really a blessing or a curse? Was telling others about Him initially enough to receive the blessing? Was it simply because of obedience that they were blessed?

    Personally, I think if we aren’t grateful for the material blessings we receive then we insult God. But at some point it seems like there is a sense that we have to give back and to share to also not squander the blessings we receive from God. Material things in and of themselves are not intrinsically bad. It’s how tightly we hold them.

    • I enjoyed seeing and understanding the roots of these desires for God to take control of football games – and I think your right that we often go astray when not simply having gratitude for the overwhelming blessings we are given.

  6. Amanda says:

    Hey man,

    Just saw your site, browsing through it, definitely some food for thought :).

    One thing though. You said Jesus doesn’t concern Himself with answering these kinds of questions… but I think He does. He seems to imply that GOD is directly involved in the provision of all good things for us.

    Mt 10 “28 Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell. 29 Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. 30 And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.”

    Mt 6:25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your lifee?”

    My own belief at this time is that “every good and perfect thing” comes from above- originally it is from GOD, regardless of the means (including the actions of self and others, what seems to be chance, etc.) by which it comes to me.

    As for bad things- IDK where GOD lies in allowing/disallowing them. But I trust Him that if He chooses not to intervene in something there is a greater reason for it, and He is still working it out for good according to His Will. (Very small summary of a very big topic, for which much more could be said.)

  7. welcome Amanda – thanks for taking the time to rebuke me by pointing out those verses! 🙂

    Interesting that Jesus refers to birds twice (and even more interesting in light of that odd Arkansas news story about 5k birds falling out of the sky!)

    I definitely appreciate that you simply trust that God is working it out – I’d never blame you for that.

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