I woke up in the middle of the night recently because of a loud boom of thunder. The first thing that came to mind upon waking and hearing rain pour down from the cracked-open sky was whether my basement would flood. I twisted and turned under the covers almost whining in my worry over a basement filled with water. I knew that nothing I could do could stop the basement from flooding. No amount of worrying or hoping. Indeed, even if I had been standing in the middle of the basement with the lights on and my eyes open, I would have had no ability to stop the rain from seeping in, no ability to save the carpet, or keep the drywall from ruin. And this, strange as it seems, brought me face to face with grace and God and my own weakness and lack of control. It would only be by God’s grace that the basement would not flood, and only by his grace that it would.
I am in a season of life in which I am fully aware, almost on a minute-by-minute basis, of my utter lack of control of things that really matter. This is not to say that I have been in control of such things before, but only that I am now understanding my lack of control in a real way. And, I am not sure I can say that I have ever felt more uncomfortable. It is nearly unbearable to sit in a place of vulnerability, to sit with the knowledge that I cannot make the rain come or go.
Experiencing extended vulnerability, for me, means coming up with ways (mostly without this intention) of seeking to manipulate God. Here’s an example: I had this great idea that I could pray better and more effectively if only I had a more comfortable chair. I looked on-line and in catalogs. Would red be good? Bomber-jacket brown? Orange would make a statement! If I had one of these chairs, perhaps my prayers (which, if analyzed would reveal themselves to be polite requests to restore control to me) would be heard and answered quickly. More recently, after having had a friend describe that she writes prayers in different colors and in drawings rather than words, I realized that what I really needed was colored pens. Orange, green, blue, red, purple. For sure, if I had these colored pens, my soul would spill onto paper, God would really know of my desperate need for control, and I would again feel safe and sound.
In my healthy, honest moments, I know that even armed with colored pens and a comfortable chair, I cannot manipulate God, cannot “regain” control I never had in the first place, and am simply a naked soul dependent on God’s grace and mercy. And so, I hold on to this grace, believing when he says it is sufficient for me, even when, or perhaps especially when, everything inside me wonders if it is otherwise, longs to rely on my own ego and strength, and aches for my will to be done instead of his.