For the next two weeks I will be off work from my day job to remodel a bathroom from the ground up–literally. The floor will be removed and all the underground plumbing, wiring, and duct-work will be replaced, along with any rotten wood we might find under this 1906 house. A new floor and all new bathroom fixtures will go in to complete the project. I have given myself a few months of lead time to prepare mentally for this task.
If anything can go wrong it usually will. That is the classic statement of Murphy’s Law. I find it to be a bit too pessimistic as well as unrealistic. Theoretically anything can go wrong–depending on how you define wrong. A literal application of Murphy’s Law would mean you would never complete anything because you would spend all your time putting out fires.
The flip side is what I all Pete’s Law. I used to get very frustrated and angry doing car maintenance and household projects because I worked under the assumption that everything should go as planned without a hitch. I have learned better through the years. Now I work with this modified or re-written version of Pete’s Law: Do not demand that everything go as planned because it probably won’t. Not everything that could go bad will, but you will be very lucky to get through any project without a hitch. And when a problem arises don’t tell yourself how terrible it is because it isn’t. Not only that–telling yourself how bad things are just elevates your blood pressure and anger levels. Oh, and another thing–don’t attempt to do something you don’t know how to do or have the proper tools for. If you can’t hire someone to help at least talk to someone who knows what they’re doing.
So yesterday we gutted the bathroom, and right off a water pipe snapped off in my hand when I was disconnecting it. I could not find my water shut-off tool, so by the time I was able to turn off the water using other tools, we had a wading pool in the bathroom. Then a few hours later as I was cutting out the floor, which by the way works best using a chain saw, the starting rope broke. I know enough not to try and fix this problem because the saw is borrowed and I can’t afford to ruin it. So while we were making the dump run we went to drop it off at the local mower shop. The bad news was that every mower shop in the county was closed Monday July 5th in lieu of the 4th.
All of the above events were unforseen and un-planned. By me, that is. I had a blueprint in my head of how the job should ideally go, and it did not go as I wanted it to. You might say I was surprised and mildly disappointed. My reaction could have been more extreme, but it was a reaction nonetheless. Here is where the sovereignty of God comes in. If you are an atheist or agnostic you do not believe there is a God who is in absolute sovereign control of all which comes to pass. But as a Bible-believing Christian I am convinced that God works all things after the counsel of His will (Ephesians 1:11). He knows the stars by name and the number of the few hairs left on my 57 year old head. He not only knew for certain in advance that the starting rope on the chain saw would snap and the water pipe would bust–He decreed these events from all eternity! Should I slip and break a leg today or cut off a finger it will be unpleasant but God will still be God.
Now you might think this a dumb way to think about God. But as a Christian the other alternative is to believe God is not in control, or that He really doesn’t care. He reacts just like us–or not. We are then left to chalk it all up to so-called natural law or to fall back on the old bumper sticker slogan, sh– happens. But who do you lean upon for support if you do not believe in the sovereign God of the Bible? If God is not in control of everything, then when real tragedies strike all we can conclude is that they are meaningless random events in the universe.
Solid biblical theology is the best therapy for any problem that is too big for you to remedy using the tools and abilities God has given you. I was able to get the water shut off and cap the broken pipe and have the water back on by 3 pm. But the saw will have to wait until the mower shop opens in about an hour from now. Should I break a leg or get jolted by 110 volts today, God will still be God and I will trust His providential hand over every event.