These words, or a variation of them, litter the landscape of modern Christianity. I hear them in podcasts and lyrics. I read them in books and blogs. There are many variations: Letting him have control of my life. Giving God permission to work. Allowing him to change me.
I like those words, because in those words dwells the concept that I have control. God longs to work in my life. All he needs is permission and that permission is the key I alone possess. While this may paint a picture that makes me feel good, it is not the portrait depicted in God’s word.
When I read the Bible, I do not discover a God who seeks permission. Did God consult Job before the whirlwind? Did he seek Joseph’s consent to use him to save a nation? Did he ask Jonah if it was OK to draw the very people Jonah hated to God’s heart? I see a God who calls Abraham to leave his home, Ruth to leave her people, Hosea to marry a prostitute and Paul to be shipwrecked, beaten, whipped and stoned. I doubt any of them signed a release form.
This is just as true of me today as it was of them. God is in my life whether I like it or not. He didn’t ask me if he could be there. His love compels him to walk with me. So I have a choice. I can fight with him or I can walk with him. That much is up to me, but little else.
From my office window, I can see a popular trail that runs through former ranch land. Just off that trail, an old metal gate sits atop a small hill. It is latched, draped in barbed wire, wrapped with a heavy chain and secured with an enormous rusted padlock. There is no opening that gate. The amusing part is that the gate stands alone on the hill. Any fence that existed disappeared long ago.
I picture God and I at this gate. I am standing behind the gate, feet spread in a defiant stance, both hands on the cold metal. “You can come this far, God, but no further. There are certain areas of my life that I am not willing to allow you to be part of right now. I will let you know when I am ready to let you in.” As something brushes past me, I feel a tap on the back of my shoulder. I turn around and find myself looking into his smiling face. With a mixture of love and amusement in his eyes, he says, “You mean these areas?”