A Lutheran Says What?

Sermons and random thoughts on God, the world and the intersection of the two

The devil is in the details? November 21, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — bweier001 @ 5:38 am
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So I will admit that here on day 20 into “nablopomo” I am starting to run out of stuff to say. Let’s suffice it to say that I am now officially reaching and considering getting “guest bloggers” here at the end. 🙂 Which I am sure would GREATLY increase the interest in this blog (thank you both readers-mom and dad!).
So I did go trolling with friends for ideas and this is what I came up with: Why do we let ourselves get caught up in inconsequential crap in our lives. You know the details such as what to write for a silly blog post? Just sayin’ and calling myself out immediately.
Now, full disclosure, I am a detail person. Just ask the people who have the misfortune to work with me in anyway. Given a task or an idea, I will immediately start thinking about every little detail to the point of distraction and almost losing sight of why I am actually thinking about the details. I can lose the big picture fairly quickly.
But I also think that there is some comfort in worrying about the details. Thinking about what colors to use in a project or what font for a lesson plan is easier and controllable. I can decide what color of paint to buy for a reflection station for worship but I can’t control if people connect with the larger idea, the community gathered for worship, or God who loves them deeply. When I plan out confirmation curriculum, my overall motivation is for youth to think deeply about the connection of God and community in their daily life but I can get caught up in worrying if I remember to get every material that I think will make that happen. In reality, it makes me wonder if I think I can somehow control the movement and work of the Holy Spirit. That’s fairly arrogant when you stop and think about it.
But there is another side, I think. It’s the human need for stability, control and predictability. Now we all need varying degrees of these things and they are not bad, but it’s frankly not realistic in the chaotic and broken world in which we live. But many of us (myself included) think that we can actually control our environment. We get stuck in details that we can control because it keeps us from the realization that there is a whole realm that we can’t. We can’t control the natural disasters that hit indiscriminately, the financial ups and downs of a global market, the future of our relationships with spouses or significant others (or our children), our health as we age, or the myriad of other big issues that overwhelm us and boggle our minds. We don’t like the unknown and it fills us with fear and deep uncertainty.
So we fill our lives with what we can control and often that is tangible, material things. This need for stability also drives our consumer culture. If we have enough stuff or resources we can mitigate any future challenges or so we believe. I think this is what fuels people who are workaholics-if they work hard enough then they can have some control over their future. We will fall for every vice if we think it will give us some semblance of control.
But here is reality-we aren’t, and were never, in control. God is, and I don’t mean that in a trite or “God has a purpose for everything” sort of way. God is in the chaos-more than that, we know from Genesis 1 and God hovered over the chaos and made something dynamic, living, giving and good out of it. Chaos is not our human “go to” and yet it is where God is at work and present. My struggle everyday is how to live in the knowledge of God’s presence in what I can’t control and to open myself up to what God might be creating where I see only chaos. I have to remind myself that God sees and has a bigger picture than I do. God sees what is truly important when I can’t. For this I am grateful and hopeful that someday I will really believe this and let go of details.