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Head Bowed and Open Hand

Paul Tripp
Paul Tripp

I wake up everyday with a plan. I know exactly what I want to accomplish, how I want to accomplish it, and when I hope to complete it. I think ahead about the things I need to accomplish and how they need to be approached. I envision the end when I'm in the middle of the process. I naturally think schedules and deadlines and assign myself completion points because it helps me to work more efficiently. I like being busy and I don't mind the pressure of being responsible for what seems more than I can do. I go to bed rehearsing what needs to be done and I wake up with the list corrected and in better order. I don't mind getting up early and staying up late. I wake up every day with an agenda. There's never a day when I don't have a plan.

Now, you're probably thinking, "Paul's poor wife! This man is obsessed!" I am committed to responsible living and I don't think responsible people have a lot of free time. But there's a problem with all of this. I do make a really good pseudo-sovereign. You know, I love me and have a wonderful plan for my life. And I can struggle with the sovereign God who I claim to serve, but who's not signed on to do anything he can to make my plan work. Here's where our agendas tend to conflict. While I'm investing my energies to make sure my work is complete, he's exercising his grace to make sure I'm complete. While I'm working toward success, he's working towards my holiness. While I'm committed to a disciplined and orderly day, he's committed to use whatever's needed to advance his work in and through me.

But it's not even that simple or obvious. The reason it's so easy for me to be snookered by my own self-sovereignty is that the bulk of what I'm doing is work for the kingdom. I tell myself that it's all about God, his kingdom, and his glory. You see, the problem with the kingdom of self is that it's a costume kingdom. It so deftly masquerades as the kingdom of God. So, self- aggrandizing plans for success masquerade as godly discipline. Impatience with others masquerades as a leader's zeal for the kingdom of God. Holding too firmly onto personal plans masquerades as godly focus. It's quite easy to think you're serving God when you're actually serving yourself. It's quite easy to confuse your plan with God's plan. It's quite easy to praise the fact that God is in charge while living as if you are. It's quite possible to thinking you're building his kingdom when actually you're using his building materials to erect your own little kingdom. It's quite possible to do all of this because the kingdom of self so easily morphs into the shape of the kingdom of God.

This is why we need more than a system of redemption. This is why we need more than theology and rules. This is why we need more than a set of wisdom principles. This is why we need a Redeemer. What we need to be rescued from the most is us! We need to be freed from our hold on us. We need to be freed from our desire to dominate us. We need to be liberated from imprisonment to our agenda for us. We need a Redeemer because our greatest struggle in life exists inside of us and not outside of us.

So once more today I confess to my allegiance to me. Once more I confess to my desire for self-sovereignty. Once more I pry open my hands and let go of the tight grip I have on my life. Once more I entrust my day, my schedule, my plans, my life into the hands of the One who is sovereign. Once more I rest in his power, wisdom, grace, faithfulness, and love. Sure, I keep planning, but with the hope that each day I'll do it more and more with my head bowed before his glory and my hand open to his will. 

 
Originally published November 23, 2011.

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