Dealing with a Divergent God

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I finally watched the 2014 film, Divergent, which was based on a science-fiction book of the same name. The story is set in a post-apocalyptic, dystopian society where everyone is expected to choose one of five subcultures to live and work with. Each subculture, or faction, requires strength in and conformity to specific attributes, such as bravery, selflessness, intelligence, etc. The faction system is designed for control and predictability. However, as with all systems, there are flaws, one being when a person doesn’t neatly fit into any one category because they have strengths in all five areas. A person who doesn’t fit just one faction, but instead could fit many, is called “divergent.” Divergents, like the main characters, are a threat to the system because they can’t be pigeonholed into others’ preconceived notions, and they can’t be controlled. They are freethinkers who approach problems and solutions in ways others don’t, and quite frankly, can’t. Their thoughts and abilities far exceed the parameters of the five factions.

If you’re human, like me, you rather enjoy some measure of control and predictability in your environment; you rather enjoy your compartmentalized systems. The flaw in your system, though, is that God is divergent. He doesn’t think or act like you do. He doesn’t conform to your system. Deep within us, we want a God who isn’t sovereign over us, but is subject to us, a God who is predictable or at least fully understandable by some stretch of our imaginations. Instead, we have a God who is wild, uncontrollable, incomprehensible, paradoxical — in short, He’s divergent. In fact, His ways diverge so much from ours that He’s said higher than the heavens are above the earth are His thoughts than our thoughts and His ways than our ways {Is. 55:9; Ps. 103:11}. The farthest object observed from planet earth is more than 13 billion light years away. God is saying His thoughts and ways are more than 13 billion light years above ours.

While we can only see a few options for solving our most difficult problems, our Divergent God, who towers more than 13 billion light years above our circumstances, sees our end from our beginning, and God foresaw our darkest days before we ever took a breath is the same God who orchestrates our brightest moments, loved us from before time began, and has promised to work all things together for our good. If we have committed to being submitted to such a God whose thoughts and ways are so above, then we’re choosing to give up any semblance of control. We’re choosing to give up what we thought our stories would be so we can fully embrace what He’s still writing out in our lives. When we follow the calling of a Divergent God with complete obedience, we relinquish the option for things to make complete sense. We have a God who is both full of wrath and full of mercy, a Man of War and Prince of Peace, a Lion, a Lamb, and a Shepherd. He’s above. HEART CHECK: Will you trust God is divergent when He seems silent? Will you obey His commands, even if they seem to counter human logic? Does a Divergent God have to make sense to your five senses, the five factions you believe His thoughts and ways should fit into?

God’s thoughts and ways are paradoxical to human logic and expected experiences. When a Divergent God wants to set us free, He makes us His bondservants. When He wants us to see Him, He causes blindness. Ask Paul. When a Divergent God wants us to follow Him, He chases after us. Ask Jonah. When a Divergent God wants someone to speak for Him, He chooses a stutterer, and to showcase His power, He’ll send you with a dried up stick! Ask Moses. When a Divergent God sets out to exalt your position, He takes the pathway through a pit and wrongful imprisonment. Ask Joseph. When a Divergent God wants to save His children, He does so by sending His Only Son to die!

As long as we are in control, God can’t be. In the film, the divergents make others uncomfortable, so they try to purge their society of divergents altogether. The divergents threaten the system of control, but in so doing, they save countless lives. Living in submission to a Divergent God is uncomfortable, and sometimes we want to get rid of HIS way, altogether. He threatens our systems of control, but but in so doing, He saves countless lives.

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When I Don’t Want God to Be God

1. fear is misplaced faith

Likewise, anxiety is misplaced divinity – something else is God.

4 a.m. – I still hadn’t gotten any good sleep, a daunting reality when I reminded myself the day’s alarm would be blaring in less than 2 hours.

5 a.m. – I jolted awake, somewhat confused because it’d been more than a year since a wave of panic had washed over me like it did in that one sweeping moment. Yet, also somewhat aware of where those overwhelming anxieties were stemming from.

I realized I didn’t want God to be God in HIS way, I wanted Him to be God in MY way.

Having survived years of abuse and working with a number of trauma survivors, I’m well aware of the brokenness life can bring. What heightened my awareness this week was sending all four of our children off to school where they’re no longer under my watchful care. I whispered, “God, please help me to trust You’ll protect my children.” Then, it hit me: what if God protects them the way He protected me? Tears spilled down my face as I realized I didn’t want God to be God in HIS way, I wanted Him to be God in MY way. I don’t want God to allow a fraction of the pain in their lives that He allowed in mine. I want His protection to look like mine would. I want Him to prevent our pain, but He’s determined to purpose our pain.

When I’m honest with myself, I have to admit there are times that I don’t want God to be God. That’s what the heavy dose of panic coursing through my veins was really about. It was really about whether or not I am willing to embrace God’s allowance of affliction over my preference of protection. Do I desire my Savior to also be sovereign? Quite often, at the root of our anxiety is a difficulty in trusting the sovereignty of God, a difficulty in relinquishing all illusions of control to an all-consuming God who won’t reveal all of His plans to us. Notice I mentioned we seek to retain “illusions of control” because our striving with God says nothing of His enduring omnipotence. He’s still in control. He’s still God.

At the root of our anxiety is a difficulty in trusting the sovereignty of God.

Our enemy uses the truth about our experiences to speak lies about our God. His native language is deceitfulness; he’s the father of lies (John 8:44). And, he is still feeding us the same lie he fed Adam and Eve all those years ago: we’d be better gods than God himself.

I’d have to agree with the saying that “fear is misplaced faith,” and I’ll add that much of our anxiety is misplaced divinity. We’ve made something or someone else God – usually ourselves. When we allow our emotions to escalate unchecked, when we listen to the lies about God’s goodness, lies about His character, about His steadfast mercy and love somehow not being what’s best for us, we’re choosing to exalt potential problems over the Prince of Peace. God foresaw that we would experience anxiety, but He calls us to submit those worries to Him because if we don’t we are essentially making a God of whatever or whomever we trust more (1 Peter 5:7). If I trust myself to handle my situation, protect my children, etcetera, more than I trust God, then I’m essentially saying I don’t want God to be God; I want to be God. If God isn’t God, then someone else will be. Quite often, that someone else is self, evidenced when we would rather be the person in control than let God be God. But even the most terrific person will make a terrible God.

If God isn’t God, then someone else will be.

If you are struggling with anxiety, first, know that you are not alone. Know that the God of the universe looked ahead in time, knew you would be burdened with this struggle, and specifically called you to cast all of those anxieties on Him because He cares for you. Second, know that help is available through Christ-centered counseling and medical interventions. You weren’t meant to bear this cross alone. I’ve already prayed for those reading and wanting more help; I believe God for you. Below is a list of resources for anxiety management and finding a skilled therapist in your area.

Click HERE: Anxiety Relaxation Techniques

Click HERE: Find a Psychotherapist (U.S.A. or Canada)

Click HERE: Therapist Locator (outside U.S. or Canada)

 

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