Sunday, December 12, 2010

Playing God

See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland. 

-- Isaiah 43:19

Maybe you've had one of those days. Or weeks. Or maybe you've been dealing with tough times - with your health, job or family -- for longer than you care to remember. Whatever the case, it just doesn't seem fair. In fact, there are times when you wonder if God is in control. Or even if He cares.

Maybe - you think - you could do a better job or running things than The Almighty.

If that's your story, it also happens to be the plot of Bruce Almighty, the 2003 hit movie starring Jim Carrey (as Bruce) and Morgan Freeman (as God). Carrey plays a Buffalo, New York-based TV news reporter who's desperately trying to land a top gig as an anchorman. But when he learns that his rival beat him for the job, Bruce loses his cool on live TV...and in spectacular fashion.

Bruce becomes furious at God because he thinks the situation is unfair. And eventually, God (Morgan Freeman) gets tired of his whining. In response to Bruce's defiance, God allows the obscure television reporter to assume His divinity and see how well he can do with running the world. Of course, Bruce abuses his new powers by using them for his own selfish purposes. He soon grows tired of listening to the millions of prayers coming from around the world. So out of his own misplaced sense of fairness - and maybe laziness - he says YES to every one of them! Needless to say, chaos ensues. And Bruce fails at playing God. Even his girlfriend (played by Jennifer Aniston) leaves him.

Bruce Almighty is only a Hollywood movie. But it still offers a few kernels of Biblical truth. And maybe the biggest truth - which we find in the Old Testament book of Isaiah -- is that God's ways aren't our ways. In fact, God specializes in the unlikely by using the least qualified people to do His will and accomplish great things. For instance, God chose a lowly shepherd boy (who later became King David) to slay the fearsome Philistine giant Goliath. Paul - the Apostle to the Gentiles who wrote many books of the New Testament - was originally a legalistic Pharisee who specialized in arresting and killing Christians. And even Jesus' 12 apostles were a motley crew of characters including fishermen, a tax collector and even a terrorist.

Why does God choose these people instead of the experts, the intellectuals or the otherwise highly qualified? The short answer is that HE CAN. Accomplishing the impossible by using the unlikely demonstrates His power and omniscience. After all, if we could always save ourselves, we'd soon believe that we don't need a Savior.

But of course, we all DO need a Savior - even when life seems to be going fine. So whether life is good or your life is falling apart, are you finished playing God? Let's follow the lead from someone unexpected (Bruce) when he prayed to the Almighty:

"Okay, You win. I'm done. Please, I don't wanna do this anymore. I don't wanna be God! I want You to decide what's right for me! I SURRENDER TO YOUR WILL!"

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