As I began to write this, I was under water. Lots of it. My bedroom floor was flooded with several inches of water. Water was streaming down the wall and pouring down from the top of my closet.
There is a burst pipe somewhere in the wall. My plumber has been aware of this for nearly a week but he can’t seem to find and fix the problem. He has drilled, he has cut, he has replaced pipes and at the end of the day, I now have a hole in my roof through which I can see outside.
I live in an apartment complex and my neighbours’ hot and cold water pipes are all entwined with mine. Isolating the issue hasn’t been easy. This has become my routine: I mop, I change the wet towels on the floor, I put out buckets, I lay down newspapers, I mop again, change towels again, I mop some more...and on and on.
I am thoroughly fed up. I grumbled about it to God. “Lord, I can’t take this anymore! Don’t you see I have to be sleeping in my couch because of the leak and the noise from incessant dripping? Don’t you see I have a backache from sleeping on the couch? Don’t you care?”
We often think God is only interested in one area of our life: the spiritual things. We think: “God wants me to be saved and have eternal life in heaven where we will live together forever.” While, this is true, it’s not the whole picture. God is interested in your life, here and now.
How are you living?
Jesus said He came that we may have more abundant life (John chapter 10, verse 10).
Yet we Christians sometimes put God in the box neatly labelled the “God Box”. We have a box for family, one for friends, another box for work. There is a box for hobbies.
There is even a box for things we’d like to do some day, our hopes, passions and dreams. We have a box of fears and insecurities. Then there’s that hidden box you don’t admit having: the one that contains the things we hope people never find out about us. If we keep boxes like these separate from the God Box, we are compartmental Christians.
The Bible says, His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness (2 Peter chapter 1, verse 3).
What about the big stuff?
If we accept that we have a loving God, one who has shared in our experiences of pain and problems (Hebrews chapter 4, verse 15), however small they are, what about the big things? What about cancer, job loss, financial difficulties, betrayal by a friend, depression, death of a loved one?
As I write this, people in some islands of the Caribbean have been under water. Lots of it. Hurricane Irma has destroyed property and killed 30 people in countries like Antigua, Barbuda, Turks and Caicos Islands, British Virgin Islands, Saint Maarten and the Bahamas. Irma has also badly affected parts of Florida.
Some of these same countries have felt the effects of Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Jose. Hurricane Maria is also now on its way, following a similar path to Irma, and these countries are bracing for it. A girlfriend residing in Barbados told me her family in Tortola have lost their house and their family business (a bakery). Her brother and his family are living in a shelter.
I’m sure most of these people feel thoroughly fed up. They probably grumbled about it to God. “Lord, I can’t take this anymore! Don’t you see I have to be sleeping in a shelter? That I don’t know where my family is or how they are doing? That I lost my house and all my possessions? That I am running out of food and water? Don’t you see I am in pain? Don’t you care?”
God can handle all floods
Our Father cares about the small stuff and the big stuff. Don’t take it on on your own. Your shoulders are not strong enough to handle the burden. And guess what? You don’t have to.
Hebrews chapter 4, verse 16 encourages us:
“Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”
It is just as much a sign of faith to trust God that my leaky pipe gets fixed as it is that He will restore you after a natural disaster, give you comfort when you are grieving, heal your father of cancer, bring you a relationship breakthrough, cause your daughter to give up drug addiction or cause your son to find salvation. It is just as much a sign of faith to trust God when you are curled up in a corner in a shelter, wet and cold and huddling for warmth, as it is to trust him to give you money to help pay your utility bills or buy gas.
But it is difficult for us to grasp this truth for one main reason.
The root of the problem
Compartmental Christians have a compartmental God. Our view of God is too narrow.
When we compartmentalize our lives, we stretch out our hand to God and say: “Here! You can have the God Box.” Giving Him that God Box means we’ll go to church on Sunday (or Saturday), choir practice on a Tuesday night, Bible study on a Wednesday night, Youth Group on a Friday but 24 hours a day we will live completely defeated lives at home, at school, on the job or at our business. We’ll stress and worry about how to manage that difficult co-worker or family member or the heavy workload or that strange noise in the car engine or the medical bills.
We live this way because at the heart of it, deep down, we don’t really think God really cares about all that “other stuff.” We think that once He has the God Box, He’ll be satisfied, so we get to be our own gods over the other boxes. After all, why should He care about them anyway?
Let me tell you: I do a horrible job of being a god over my boxes. It makes me feel frustrated, hopeless and lost. This is because I emotionally and physically cannot do it all. And God cares about those boxes because He wants all of you and He cares about every minute detail concerning you! He even knows how many hairs are on your head (read Psalm 139).
Here’s what to do: put all the other boxes into the giant God Box and hand it over to Him!
Giving God the boxes you’re holding back doesn’t mean all of a sudden life gets rosy. In fact, things may seem to get worse for a while. When I surrendered my leak problem to God, the leak got worse, (which I didn’t think was even possible!). The plumber came out and turned off both my hot and cold water pipes. He’ll have to come back tomorrow (Monday) to try and find the leak in the wall.
There is still a leak. Now no water running down my wall but I don’t have any in my pipes either. I have to fill buckets with water I got from my neighbours. My problem still isn’t fixed but I feel so much better. I feel resilient and re-energised. Because I know in my weakness, God is giving me His strength (2 Corinthians chapter 12, verses 9–11).
The problems you face, whether small or large, will never overtake you. 2 Corinthians chapter 4, verses 8–10 says: “We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies.”
Jesus tells us to take heart, He has overcome the world (John chapter 16, verse 33). In trusting Him with the other boxes, I become more like Jesus, which is how He wants us to live 24 hours a day. It’s part of fulfilling my purpose. So these temporal, earthy things serve a bigger role. Overcoming them is part of a bigger picture. It shows I can bring faith to every challenge that happens to me or in me.
We can know the type of God we serve when He tells us in Isaiah chapter 41, verse 10 that we should not fear that He will strengthen us, help us and uphold us with the right hand of His righteousness. There is no qualifier in that verse about the scale of the problem.
So what now? Hand it all over. Step back. Put down the mop. Trust God.
Sharma Taylor is a corporate attorney with a Doctor of Philosophy Degree in Law from Victoria University of Wellington in New Zealand. This year, she is committed to pursuing God even harder than before.
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