Pastoral Perspectives

“Your Life is in Your Hands”

I saw the above tag line flashing on a gargantuan screen while I was stopping at a traffic light. Before I could figure out what the advertisement was about, the light turned green and I had to scurry along. This is not the first time I have come across this tag line. Motivational speakers will tell their audience that they need to seize the day because their lives are in their own hands. Doctors will tell their patients to eat well and exercise faithfully, abstain from the forbidden foods and kick the bad habits, otherwise, face death – your life is in your own hands, you decide how long you want to live! Teachers and parents will also tell the young people of today the same thing, “If you choose to bum around and not take your studies seriously, you are not going to make it far in society – your life is in your own hands, decide for yourself which path you want to take.” On one hand, it does make sense to say that we need to be responsible for our actions and there are consequences to the decisions we make. However, as Christians, our paradigm would have to be very different.

My life is not in my hands; my life is in God’s hands. We do not have a say as to when we enter this world and when we will leave. The Psalmist said, “But I trust in you, LORD; I say, “You are my God.” My times are in your hands. (Psalm 31.14, 15a) Our times are indeed in God’s hands. Don’t let pride have the better of us by believing the lie that we define our destiny. Yes, we can work hard, we can plan for the future, we can make provision for our retirement but we must always humbly acknowledge that “many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails.” (Proverbs 19.21) Let’s take heed the solemn warning from James. “Now listen, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.’ Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, ‘If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.’ As it is, you boast in your arrogant schemes. All such boasting is evil.” (James 4.13-16)

My life is not in my hands; my life is in God’s hands. I am comforted by the assurance that no one can pluck me out of my Father’s hands. My salvation is secured and even if I go through the most difficult of trials, I am kept safe in the palms of my Abba Father. Jesus said, “I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand.” (John 10.28-29) In the doctrine of election, those whom God has chosen will persevere to the end, regardless the kinds of testing and temptations they are being put through. We did not choose God. Otherwise, it would be tantamount to saying that the decision to have eternal life is in our hands. It is good that we didn’t choose God but He chose us because if it were the former, how can we be sure that in 5 years, 10 years, 20 years down the road, we will still continue to choose Him?

My life is not in my hands; my life is in God’s hands. This is the sovereign God that I worship. This is a God whose plan for my life is good, pleasing and perfect. (Romans 12.2) This is the God who has the final say as to what can happen to me. Recall that God drew a hedge around Job and limited Satan’s activity in Job’s life. Living in a fallen world, we will definitely not be spared from sufferings but being in God’s hands means God can weave His good purposes into the seemingly random and senseless evil that hits us! Joseph told his brothers who sold him to Egypt, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” (Genesis 50.20) As we journey through life, if we are honest, we have to admit that many things are outside our control – my life is not in my hands. Sometimes, I feel like my life is slipping out of my hands, but it is so comforting to know that I can let my life slip into God’s hands and in there, find security, hope and peace.

My life is not in my hands; my life is in God’s hands. I therefore can learn to surrender everything to him in prayer. Prayer brings our whole world and all our struggles and issues into dialogue with the One who persistently loves us. Prayer wisely recognises that we ourselves don’t have all the answers. This has nothing to do with an unhealthy self-image. It is simply coming to terms with our own limitations. And that has to do with a healthy realism. Messages like ‘your life is in your own hands’ are supposed to help build up one’s self-confidence, psyche up one’s ego but once the lie is exposed, our confidence and ego will come crashing down like a stack of cards.

My life is in my hands. Sure, I want to take responsibility for the way I live my life – I want to exercise and take care of my body; I want to save for the future; I want to make plans where ministries are concerned; I want to dream dreams. But more importantly, my life is in God’s hands. I want to involve God in every area of my life. I want to acknowledge His grace upon my life without which my achievements will not be possible. I want to pray His will be done on earth as it is in heaven. I want to glorify Him in all I do. Knowing that my life is in God’s hands need not cause me to live passively. It actually gives me greater freedom and motivation to live responsibly without being fretful that my labour will amount to nothing when I see Him face to face.

Pastor Kien Seng

November 27, 2011