So I had an interesting chat with my stepfather yesterday, and I’ve been reflecting on it since that time. I was tempted to blog about it yesterday, but decided to sit with it for a little while before raising the matter here.
Please understand that what follows is a recounting of a lighthearted, yet pointed exchange with my stepfather that had some interesting spiritual implications. However, I am not interested in wading into the deep waters of theological debate here. I am simply sharing what happened, and drawing a couple of interesting conclusions from the conversation.
Anyway, everything began innocently enough:
- Me: The Giants are ahead 5-3, and the game is headed to the bottom of the ninth inning.
- Stepdad: The Giants are probably going to lose.
- Me: What? Why would you say such a thing? They just scored two runs to pull ahead in the game. Why would you assume that they are going to lose?
- Stepdad: You’ll see – they are going to lose.
- Me: What? The Giants just scored two runs to take the lead – why would you assume that they are going to lose the game? Where is your faith? [by the way, my stepdad and I meet weekly for Bible study, and were just discussing the faith of David the previous day, so this topic was quite timely]
- Stepdad: I don’t believe that God has control over the outcome of sports games.
- Me: Are you kidding me? God is sovereign. He is absolutely in control of all things. Either you believe that He is sovereign over everything, or you believe that He is sovereign over nothing. But you can’t believe that God is only sovereign over “most things.” If this statement were true, then He wouldn’t actually be sovereign at all.
- Stepdad [shaking his head and smiling]: The Giants are still going to lose, and I don’t believe that God has control over sports.
- Me: I’m not saying that if you’re a Christian that your team is going to win all the time, but why would you believe in a God who is only in control over some things? What kind of God is that?
We did not agree, but decided to fix our attention on the remainder of the game.
Can you guess what happened next?
The Rockies had a rally in the bottom of the ninth inning and won the game! The Giants lost.
Here’s how the conversation continued:
- Me: You see? There was probably someone in Colorado who was praying for the Rockies to win the game.
- Stepdad: I told you that the Giants would lose! [and no, I do not believe that my stepdad received a word of knowledge from the Lord about the outcome of the game]
- Me: I see no reason why that should’ve happened. From my perspective [and my Mom’s, too – she was there], the Giants were well positioned to win the game until you started doubting God’s sovereignty. Shoot – even Jesus wasn’t able to do miracles in His own hometown due to the people’s unbelief in His authority and power. What makes your attitude any different? After all, who wants to worship a God who is only “kind of” sovereign?
We eventually changed the subject, but my mother and I are still convinced that the Giants could have pulled out the win, and were in fact poised to do so.
Here are two conclusions that I draw from this conversation:
- Do you believe in the God of the Bible? If so, then you must also accept His total sovereignty. It doesn’t mean that He only allows good (or bad) things to happen, but it does mean that we recognize and affirm that He ultimately is totally in charge of all things, circumstances, ideas, and events.
- There are consequences for our unbelief. I’m not saying 100% that my stepdad’s skepticism caused the Giants to lose – who knows? (I suppose that the relief pitcher might’ve suddenly had a rough half-inning, unexpectedly allowing several base hits and runs to score, including the winning home run with only two outs left in the game – but can you totally rule it out?) The personal application – for me, anyway – goes something like this: Do I somehow limit the Lord’s ability to work in my life by placing Him in a box, and telling Him what I think He can do and what He can’t?
Dear Lord, thank You for being totally sovereign. I fully believe that You are ultimately 100% in charge of all things, although due to the toxic influence of sin in the world, things frequently happen that are out of step with Your will.
Where my stepfather is concerned, I pray that You would open His eyes so that He can better understand and appreciate the scope of Your total sovereignty and authority. Help him to understand that unbelief is a powerful thing, and that such a mindset invites some unexpected consequences into our lives.
I know that my stepdad loves you in His own way, but I invite You to expand His knowledge of You such that He comes to understand the truth in Ephesians 4:5-6 in an intensely powerful and personal way. In Your name I pray, Amen.