‘Closer To the Ground,’ Knowing God is Sovereign
“The closer to His sovereignty that you step, the closer to the ground your face will be in worship, gratitude and humility. Faith to be immovable and unconquerable will find its place in the sovereign will of our God.” – Jeff Beard
I’ve been mulling this quote over, in my mind and soul, since I heard it Sunday in a sermon.
I couldn’t even tell you what the sermon was about, really. I was fidgety that morning. Antsy. Distracted by many things. So I wasn’t paying close attention. But as always, when the word “sovereignty” came up, the cacophony in my brain quieted down for a bit, and I laser-focused in on what was being said.
I don’t know anything about Mr. Beard, other than he was a mentor to the pastor of my church, and he wrote this quote on the inside of a book (by R.C. Sproul) that he gave my pastor several years ago.
Whoever he is, his words have occupied a lot of my brain this week. I find the sovereignty of God to be a tough thing to grasp. And sometimes, a tough thing to accept.
Sovereignty of God is the biblical teaching that all things are under God’s rule and control, and that nothing happens without His direction or permission. Nothing takes God by surprise. He is sovereign in both principle (de jure) and practice (de facto).
All things. The joyful things; yes, absolutely. But also the hard things.
We learn from stories like Abraham and Sarah, Ruth, and Job — and even Jesus’ experience in the garden where he prayed right before his crucifixion — that God is sovereign. What He wills, happens. And what He permits happens, too.
Oh, my soul: sometimes knowing that the hard stuff has been allowed, or permitted, by God is so hard to bear. Especially when in the throes of the hard things of this life.
However, when we — or, I — step back and really think about it, when I really delve into the truth of what this means, I realize that it is exactly His sovereignty that provides hope. Because, were He not sovereign over all things, then I fear that the senselessness of evil would threaten to drown out the grace and mercy of who He is.
And His grace and mercy far outshine the deepest choking darkness. This I know is truth, because I’ve lived it. But here is where Mr. Beard’s quote got me: “The closer to His sovereignty that you step….” That’s hard stuff.
It’s hard, because I find myself — and maybe you do, as well — not wanting to step closer to His sovereignty, but rather distance myself from it. Or, maybe a better phrase is this: I try to fly under His radar. I don’t want to get too near. I don’t want to look into His eyes; I don’t want Him to look into mine. Cynicism, stoicism and hard-heartedness is easier than either the enfolding joys or the damning griefs.
Don’t love too much. Don’t draw God’s attention to your soul. I pride myself on being immovable. Unconquerable. Sinfully proud, that is.
But that’s where I found Mr. Beard’s words to be the most interesting. He asserts, essentially, that the only way to truly be immovable and unconquerable, is to be nestled within God’s sovereign will. To step closer to His sovereignty, not to run from it. Or hide from it. In faith, no less – that very odd, at times elusive concept, or act, of trust. Complete trust. Trust in the sovereign God, who directs and permits. All things.
And when we step closer to God, the result is worship, gratitude and humility — the exact opposite of the sinful pride of cynicism and hard-heartedness and stoicism — the three default modes I quickly run to for safety.
It is my sovereign God who is the safest place of all, and who will truly cause me to be immovable and unconquerable when I step close to Him and fall on my face and worship. Our God is in the heavens; he does all that he pleases.