This past week has been a busy week for me. I moved back into my college dorm a week early to help the new freshman class move in and feel welcome. On the last night of freshman orientation, the night before classes started, our student-led worship service was held. Student-led meaning “all the band members are students and both of the speakers are students”.
After the service opened with worship, the first speaker came up. She talked about Psalm 139 and how God knew us before we were formed in our mother’s womb. She put emphasis on the fact that we are all here for a reason. Psalm 139.16 says: “Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them”. God wrote our days before we were even formed in our mother’s womb.
The next student speaker came up. He spoke about Jeremiah 29.11 that states: “For I know that plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope”. He talked about how God has a plan for each one of our lives. He knows that plan and it’s not going to harm us. His plan doesn’t set us up for failure, rather the complete opposite. The Lord declares that He knows the plans, even when it feels like He may not be listening or even around. The Lord wants to prosper us, not destroy us.
The speaker then said something that really stuck with me. We have heard both of these passages of scripture more than most. We have heard countless messages on them, been to VBS programs based on them, and could recite them back to anyone. We know the words that were written on the pages by the Psalmist David and the prophet Jeremiah. But are we really being obedient and walking in these truths? Do we really live as though we believe there is a higher being (God) in control of our entire lives? Amidst the memorization and countless messages of these two passages of scripture, are we submitting to God, who has written our days in His book and knows the plans He has for our lives?
This is something I believe every human being struggles with. No one wants to submit to someone else leading their lives. No one wants to admit that there may be someone who knows what’s best for you, besides yourself. Look at a baby for example. Babies just want to put everything in their mouths and play with everything. So, picture a baby that is just learning to crawl and comes across an electrical cord. Having no idea what this object is, the baby takes the cord and tries to put it in his mouth. Immediately, the baby’s mom grabs the cord out of the baby’s hand. The baby isn’t too happy about that and begins wailing because he wants the dangerous electrical cord back. He thinks that putting it in his mouth will satisfy him, but mom knows best in that he cannot play with such a thing, even if it means her son has to suffer as a result.
We are just like the baby. We are afraid to submit to the authority of God (and those God has placed in authority over us) because we are scared they may mess up our plan. We are scared that they may take away that one thing that we think is best for us to have, when in all actuality it is very dangerous.
When people are placed in authority over us (by God), we sometimes doubt their leadership. We sometimes think, “how can they be any better at that position than us?” or “there’s no way I’m going to listen to them, they have no idea what they are doing let alone knowing what’s best for me”. We let our own selfish ambitions, the jealousy of a co-worker getting a raise and promotion, take over. We lose complete respect for them, and in turn, we lose our reverence and fear for the Lord because He is the one that put them in authority over us in the first place. We are too busy reacting, rather than responding appropriately, to see that the Lord has a plan for our lives too! Just like He has a plan for the person He promoted and put in authority over us. All too often, we are so wrapped up in ourselves that we can’t recognize that it was GOD who placed them in authority over us. As a result, when we decide we’re not going to obey them because of jealousy, we are in actuality disobeying the Lord. When we disrespect our authority figure(s), we are disrespecting the Lord. We are saying: “God, you really have no idea what you are doing putting them in such an authoritative position! I can’t believe you would do this!”
Church, as we are called to higher standards and holy living while here on the Earth, we are also called to respect and obey those that God has placed in authority over us. 1 Peter 2.13-14 states: “Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and praise those who do good”. We are commanded to obey those God has placed over us. It is a hard thing to do sometimes because of our human nature, but with the strength of the Lord, all things are possible.
Pastor Aaron shared a powerful message about Peter’s words in 1 Peter 2 just this past Sunday! You definitely want to check out what he had to say about submission to authority. http://painesvilleag.com/exiles-in-hope
Do you need to learn to submit to those God has placed over you? Listen to the podcast for our current series at PAG, “Exiles in Hope,” to hear a more in depth teaching about submitting to the authorities God has placed over you. Friends, join me in honoring those over us. Next time you hear someone bashing an authoritative figure, skip out on joining in the conversation and instead set the example by helping them recognize that God has placed them there for a reason.
Writer, Blogger, College Student