It may not compare to a movie like Frozen for kids today, but growing up my all time favorite Disney movie was Aladdin. I loved the fun songs. My imagination soared with the characters on the magic carpet. But most of all, I was captivated by the fast-talking, majorly entertaining genie. And with a voice like Robin Williams behind a character, it’s hard to go wrong!
The genie could do it all…he even put on a complete musical number just to tell Aladdin that he’s never had a friend like him. Come on, it’s been a while…you know you want to watch it…
I loved the genie – his wit, his style, and most importantly, his ability to grant your any wish at your command. Now that’s somebody I could hang out with! And who wouldn’t – genie’s purpose is to serve his master.
I don’t know if I’d say that lovable genie and the movie Aladdin is the culprit, but this does resemble the way we can sometimes convince ourselves that God operates.
I was asked this question once in school: Is God still God even if there were no creation? That is to say, is God validated by His creating us, or does His almighty power, presence, and love simply exist as inherent realities? Most of us would probably end up thinking “yes, of course God exists outside of us – He does not need us to be God.”
And that – I believe – is truth. God is simply God. With or without us.
But it seems that in our actual daily living, we can easily switch that around. We end up making God depend on us. We at times come to God with our prayer requests, but in the back of our minds we have our desired outcomes. And so we wait, expectantly, for our “wish” to be granted.
Whether we realize when we do this or not, it’s a dangerous place to be. God becomes subservient to our lives. And in these moments, our God becomes a god – an idol, cast in our image. A projection of who we want God to be, but not who He necessarily is. And not the God He’s revealed to us through His Word and in the life of Christ.
For example, we often run to Jeremiah 29:11 as a most comforting and inspiring verse, which it is! But have you ever considered what it means in light of verse 10? Try reading the two verses together. “This is what the Lord says: ‘When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my good promise to bring you back to this place. For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'”
That changes the game a bit, doesn’t it? God is telling His Israelite people that they’re going to remain captives, prisoners, in Babylon for another 70 years. A whole lifetime of living in a foreign land. Removed from their homes and customs. Not what they wanted to hear.
Then, and only then, God speaks those famous words of promise. He knows their plans. He will provide hope and a future. It might not look like they want it. It won’t be easy or comfortable. It’s not their wish come true. But God will be in it all. Producing hope. Preparing a future. When we don’t know, God does. Where we can’t see, God is. He’s been there long before us, and He’s sticking around long after us. God’s in the verse 10 moments of life just as much as the verse 11 moments.
God doesn’t show up with three wishes to make our lives in the “here and now” turn out happily ever after. But you know the beauty of it all? This great, big, all-powerful God chose to show up in our time and space and serve us. Not to give us whatever we wanted, but to provide exactly what we needed. Deliverance from evil. Freedom from the power of sin and death.
He did this by taking on the form a Jesus. The One who had it all but put it all aside for our sake so that He could rescue us. (Ephesians 2:6-8) The God who has ‘cosmic, phenomenal power’ but chose to enter in to our ‘itty bitty living space’.
That’s the God we have. He doesn’t need us at all. But He’s chosen to create, live, die, and rise again for each one of us. So remember, in our highest of moments, God knows our plans. In our lowest of moments, God knows our plans. And in the midst of it all, we have everything. For we have Christ. Because of the cross, our most crucial wish has already been granted.
Enjoying the Journey,