What is the balance between God’s sovereignty and my responsibility? I’ve asked myself that question many, many times – especially in the last couple of years.
- When I moved apartments earlier this year, I knew God was in control. But how much was I supposed to stress myself out by looking for apartments, and how much was I just supposed to let God do His thang?
- When my two sisters, three brothers, two parents, and extended family are planning a Christmas get-together with people in five states and two countries, how much should I try to make everything happen just the way I want it – and how much should I let God be God?
- When I was car-searching, was my insistence on getting a car that was cute God’s way of directing my search?
And, of course, I process this topic all the time when it comes to singleness. How much am I supposed to DO to get a man, and how much am I supposed to WAIT for God to bring the right one?
I think the answer to that question is different for different people in different times in their lives, but right now, I keep coming back to Proverbs 16:9: “In their hearts, humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps” (NIV).
Basically, that verse and a few more in Proverbs (3:5-6, 5:21, etc.) say that I can plan, make lists, and try new things – but, in the end, God is still going to have bigger plans, better lists, and more wonderful things for me. HIS thoughts are higher (Isaiah 55:8-9), and the more I put my hope in HIM (instead of my own thoughts), the less stressed/worried/anxious I’ll be.
However, what I struggle with ALL the time is balancing the extremes of
- wanting all the control over my life
- doing nothing at all, if my efforts are going to be useless anyway
In the first scenario, I make lists, plan far ahead, coordinate with people, keep schedules, and try to prepare for every eventuality. I am simultaneously comforted and stressed with the efforts to maintain control. In the end, when I do my thing, God gets the glory.
In the second scenario, I decide that whatever I’m trying to do is too hard or too boring or too overwhelming, so I don’t try. I am simultaneously comforted and stressed with the effort to let go of control. In the end, when God does His thing, God gets the glory.
I don’t have the magical solution for finding the balance between TRYing and WAITing; I’m sure I get it wrong often. But I have learned a few things that have been comforting recently – especially in those moments I ask myself, “Should I go out speed dating? Or should I staying at home to eat ice cream while lounging in my pajamas? I wonder which will be more effective in finding a husband”:
- When I put my hope in my plans, I am often disappointed; when I put my hope in Jesus, I am never disappointed.
- WHAT or HOW I plan/try is less important than WHY I plan/try. Am I planning/trying in order to be in control, be recognized, and be amazing? Or am I planning/trying in order to point myself and other people to our need for Jesus?
- All my efforts to get a man – to get/do anything in this life, really – should be to please God, because Jesus made every effort in His life, death, and resurrection to do so (I John 2:6).
But I do have a list of things I’ve tried to get a man. Clearly, none of them have worked (yet).
|Writing in my journal about how much I want a man|
|Creating online dating profiles|
|Deleting online dating profiles|
|Going on offline dates with online men|
|Telling God how much I want a man|
|Telling God how much my man needs me|
|Talking to God about dating|
|Talking to my sisters about dating|
|Talking to my friends about dating|
|Not talking to anyone about dating|
|Not talking to boys|
|Talking to boys|
|Hanging out with girls|
|Hanging out with boys|
|Traveling to different countries|
|Traveling around my country|
|Settling down and not traveling much|
|Learning to cook|
|Learning to flirt|
|Learning to not flirt|
|Being strong and independent|
|Being needy and in need of protecting|
|Putting myself “out there”|
|Staying home and eating ice cream|
|Gaining weight (see line item about ice cream)|
|Dying my hair|
|Not dying my hair|
|Cutting my hair|
|Not cutting my hair|
So either I’m not trying the right things, or God has a plan that’s bigger and better than my efforts. I can live with that second option. Most days.
Now excuse me while I go re-activate my eHarmony profile.
2 thoughts on “My Valiant Efforts”
For all your actual temporal needs: Matthew 6:33, 34. If you have a perceived need that is not an actual need, maybe God will provide for it, maybe He won’t. PS: I recently quit my pint-of-ice cream-nightly habit, and I feel a whole lot better 🙂
Hehe, thanks for the ice cream advice, Johnny. That’s too funny.