God Is Still In Control
My friend Debby Thompson tells of a joyful family sailing adventure that turned terrifying:
Suddenly, without warning, three independent storms converged in uncharacteristic fashion and created the perfect storm. Black, eerie darkness descended, and we were the victims of a phenomenon at sea that no meteorologist could have predicted.
In the blink of an eye, our lives were in grave and serious danger. Being 10 nautical miles out, there was no hope of shelter. Gale force winds, 60-75 miles an hour, threatened to crash us into one of the rocky islands. Howling wind swirled in a 360-degree motion; vicious waves soared 16 feet high; visibility was reduced to 50 feet. Lightning danced all around our craft, and our overwhelming feeling was one of utter helplessness.
The look on (my husband) Larry’s face confirmed our desperate plight. He was using all of his strength to steer the boat upright and to keep us alive. He cried out, “Oh Lord, SAVE US, PLEASE, SAVE US!”
Have you been in such a place: totally out of control. Perhaps in a true life-threatening encounter. Or financial despair. Losing a job or worse, losing a loved one. Or, if you love a prodigal, you know what it is to feel out of control.
All of us love to be in control, especially of our own lives. But the reality is, we are not in control. Gratefully there is one who is: Two names He goes by are El Shaddai and El Elyon.
We first learn about El Shaddai in Genesis 17:1,2: When Abram was 99 years old, the LORD appeared to him and said, “I am God Almighty; walk before me and be blameless. I will confirm my covenant between me and you and will greatly increase your numbers.”
Surely Abraham had no power to make this happen. But God was more than able to make him the father of multitudes.
We find this name of God used 48 times, most often in the ongoing conversation between Job and his friends. Job said: “But I desire to speak to the Almighty and to argue my case with God” (Job 13:3). Of course, when he got the chance, he quickly discovered that God really is the Almighty-all powerful and all sufficient.
For those of us who-occasionally or often-feel powerless to do the impossible tasks God has given us, especially to walk through a prodigal experience, this strong name of God is foundational. Even in the most desperate days, we have the assurance that our God is in control and He is able to do whatever is needed. Nothing is impossible for Him.
We can pray in the name of El Shaddai and see Him do more than we ask or think or imagine in response to our requests. Nothing is too difficult for Him.
The literal meaning of El Elyon is “God is the high one.” Synonyms would be sovereign and ruler. In other words, He is in control.
This name of God appears throughout the Old Testament, but most often in the book of Daniel. Here we read the story of Nebuchadnezzar, the mighty ruler of the Babylonian empire.
Though he acknowledged the power of Daniel’s God, Nebuchadnezzar still believed he was in control. Thus God’s word to him: “You will be driven away from people and will live with wild animals…Seven times will pass by for you until you acknowledge the Most High is sovereign over the kingdoms of men…”
And that is what happened. After seven years of living as an animal, the King looked to heaven and was restored. He said, “Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and exalt and glorify the King of heaven, because everything he does is right and all his ways are just.”
Where is your life out of control?
A child on drugs? Lost a job? A pregnant daughter? In foreclosure? A son in jail? A cancer diagnosis? Or just myriad small details adding up to one big mess?
Then it is time to acknowledge, in reality, life is out of control. And to turn to this Most High God, to El Shaddai the Almighty, who is, in reality, in control. No surprises, no indifference, no “oops” for Him. He knows. He cares. He is able.
His name is a promise. You can depend on Him to be in control.
In His Name,