Seeing God's Sovereignty in Little Moments
The youngest of my three daughters is smack in the middle of my favorite age—two! From the moment her feet hit the ground each morning, she runs around with impossible energy, ready to explore and conquer something new each day.
I knew it was coming, but still the time to start potty training seemed to creep up all too quickly. This is admittedly the least favorite task in my most favorite child-rearing stage. I had been telling myself that since I had successfully potty trained my two other children, this time would naturally have to be easier.
That was mistake number one. Now that my other two daughters were in school, the schedule was broken up with pickups and drop-offs, so we didn’t have the whole day to just focus on potty training. That meant I had to make my time really count. I was determined she would “pee-pee-potty” that first day.
I started pumping my daughter with apple juice, got the Elmo training toilet seat out, along with the exciting new “big girl undies,” and of course, the most important thing of all—the candy reward jar displayed on the bathroom counter. I didn’t actually count, but I’m pretty sure I repeated the phrase “pee-pee-potty” somewhere in the hundreds of thousands that first day.
I followed her around the house, never letting her out of my sight the entire time. We drank juice, talked about going potty, sat on the potty with nothing happening, sat on the potty drinking juice, and then talked about going potty some more—and it worked! With only one accident in a three-hour period, she went potty twice!
After giving myself a big pat on the back, the inevitable happened. The phone rang, and it was an important call I had to take. My daughter had just gone potty, and I knew it would only be a few minutes, so I took the call. As can be guessed, in those few minutes she managed to have a huge accident on our beige carpet. I had been following her around like a crazy person for three hours to capture the two tablespoons of urine in the toilet, only to have her go “number two” on our living room carpet! I can laugh about it now, but, as you can imagine, it was anything but funny at the time.
I pretty much had an adult tantrum that afternoon. As I was cleaning up her giant mess, I began to long for the days in the working world where people took themselves to the potty and I could exercise other parts of my brain. These didn’t seem to be the types of challenges I needed in my life. It threw me into a full blown pity party about what I was called to do as a parent.
A couple of days later, God—in all of his goodness—got me thinking about him and one of his attributes: his sovereignty. Since God is the supreme authority, all things are under his control:
He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. (Col. 1:17)
The Westminster Confession of Faith puts it this way:
God, from all eternity, did, by the most wise and holy counsel of His own will, freely, and unchangeably ordain whatever comes to pass. (WCF 3.1)
For most of us, this truth is something we are aware of but don’t think of on a daily basis. I tend to consider God and his sovereignty when big things happen: if my husband loses his job or someone close to us is severely injured or even when something wonderful happens that is so obviously from God’s hand. In these momentous life events, it is more natural to pause and look for the deeper meaning or purpose.
Yet, what about the other moments in life—the little, insignificant moments that God would seem to be way too big to care about, such as a mother potty training her two-year-old? When I’m elbows-deep in the muck of life and wondering why it has to be so frustrating, irritating, and exhausting, God’s hand is still on my life—I haven’t traveled out of his reach. Since God is in control of everything, he controls even these frustrating moments in my life and he uses them for my good:
For all things work together for the good of those who love him. (Rom. 8:28)
I had an “ah-ha” moment as I reflected upon and confessed all of the sinful thoughts I had, due to my very eventful potty training experience. Many of the sins I struggle with daily and ask God to deliver me from are exposed in these very irritating moments that I wish he would just remove from my life.
I often ask God to make me more patient, long-suffering, and humble, so that I could serve my family more joyfully. And it is in these seemingly purposeless, mundane incidences of our lives where we find his sanctifying work.
As much as I’d prefer to wake up tomorrow morning with an Amazon package on my doorstep filled with items that would magically make me fully sanctified and blissfully patient, long-suffering, and humble—that’s not how God operates. He works in and through our lives in the everyday moments in which our sin smacks us in the face and exposes our hearts. These moments remind us how incredibly small we are and how little we can control. They drive us to the feet of our Savior as we ask for his strength and mercy.
As exhausting as this hour/week/day/month has been in your life, you can take heart and remember that, even though the frustrating parts of life haven’t been removed, you have not been forgotten in your condition. You have an ever-wise, loving, and gracious Father who is molding you according to his good will and purpose. Rest in the infinite wisdom of your Creator who is committed to making you more and more into the image of your Savior until you reach your final home and are fully perfected in Christ.
Shepherding a Child's Heart by Tedd Tripp