“If one has the answers to all the questions - that is the proof that God is not with him. It means that he is a false prophet using religion for himself. The great leaders of the people of God, like Moses, have always left room for doubt. You must leave room for the Lord, not for our certainties; we must be humble.”
I was collaborating with a diocesan leader on a project recently and my friend was feeling particularly nervous about an upcoming event. We talked through some of his concerns about various team members’ work and at one point he said, "I know as the leaders, we are checking everything. But who’s checking us?" I was struck by his question and offered that all of the meetings with others and feedback we were gathering was one place, but ultimately I had to answer honestly. "No one." My colleague let out a big sigh and said, "Well I hope you’re more confident in yourself than I am feeling in myself right now." I chuckled but didn’t actually respond because the truth was, I wasn’t. Still holding on to my anxiety while eating family dinner that night, I was only partially paying attention to my five-year-old’s horrible dinner behavior. Realizing the chicken nuggets hadn’t been touched, I reminded Norah for the 14th time to start eating and she replied quickly, "Why? Are you the boss of me?" Startled by her brazen challenge, I replied "Of you? Absolutely." And without missing a beat she asked, "Well who’s the boss of you then?" My eldest answered practically that it was my wife, which could be the theme of a whole other post, but my five-year-old’s simple yet profound question seemed to build off of my conversation earlier in the day. Who’s the boss of me? I quickly corrected my eldest that my wife was not my boss and said wisely, "God’s my boss." The five-year-old wasn’t finished. "So what does God tell you to do every day?" She wasn’t being a smart aleck. She really wanted to know. I quickly changed the subject.
As children, it’s clear, if not desirable, what the structures of authority are, who’s checking us, who’s setting standards and ensuring compliance. As we grow older and gain more responsibility, it becomes increasingly less clear who the boss is. More honestly, however, perhaps it’s not that it is less clear, perhaps it is that it’s less comfortable for us to acknowledge. If I truly believed my answer to Norah’s first question, then I probably should’ve been able to answer her second one. As a disciple, how willing am I to acknowledge the Lord’s lordship over my life? Beyond the lip service, how would someone observe that in my life over the course of a week and other than Sunday? If that last question made you sweat, join the club. I don’t know about you, but I want all the grace God gives and I am not nearly as inclined to the constraints or restraints it might put on my desires. As we continue through this Lent, how honest can we be about who we believe is in control? I don’t think God seeks to be a boss, but I do think He wants our partnership. I’m not sure I could reflect on any other productive partnership in my life where I acknowledged the relationship but didn’t listen to what the person was asking. Prayers that your Lent is a time of great partnership with the Lord.