“The kingdom can feel like it’s shaking, but you know it’s unshakable. It’s the details that are shaky.”
These wise words came across the internet from a dear friend recently in response to my description of our frazzled lives. I told her that my chemotherapy treatments have been reduced because of low red blood cell counts and are now unaccompanied by steroids. The steroids, while aggravating, gave me three days of energy I could count on. Instead now I have nearly three days of being flat on my back after each treatment.
I went on to share my euphoria over the pending sale of our house which happened on the first day of showing it to four different buyers – and the resulting panic as I realized we have to have some other place to live on July 1. We looked at apartments, found a decent one, and then were told we were on an 8 – person waiting list! Where will we be living on July 2?
Of course, the realization of “out of the house in 45 days deadline” led to “How will I ever get all this sorting, packing and cleaning done in time?” “What will I do with all these books?” “The community wide yard sale is in two weeks – how will I every be ready?” “Look look at this full-page, single-spaced list of people and businesses to contact with change of service and change of address notices. How can we change the address when we don’t yet have a place to live?” And then came, “Look at those cobwebs! and “It’s going to take hours to clean out this shed” and “What do I do with old pesticides? How do I handle left-over latex paint?” (It turns out you – and your adult son – mix it with kitty litter or absorb-all, let it dry, and then put it in the trash.)
Details, details, details. That’s when I admitted to my friend, “The kingdom is looking shaky right now.”
And that’s when she came back with the great line quoted above. I saw the truth in her statement immediately. The kingdom of God is always safe. Of course, it is the details that are shaky, not the kingdom. And then I wondered, “Aren’t the details the stuff that makes up our lives? Isn’t the kingdom filled with details?” And then I saw again, “Of course.” But we don’t know what God is doing with those details.” Which is scary! Which makes this control addict feel out of control. Which led me to understand (again) that trusting God with the details is the definition of faith. Recognizing that God is in control and trusting that God is working all things out for my good (Jer. 33:11), Psalm 34:10, Romans 8: 28) is the definition of faith.
As I was writing this post, the phrase “The devil is in the detail” came to mind. I researched the phrase and found the meaning: The small things in plans and schemes that are overlooked can cause serious problems later. Even the grandest project depends on the success of the details. “Yes,” I fist-pumped! That is why I’m so anxious. What have we overlooked in the myriad of areas we are dealing with? What should we do differently?
Ironically, the source of the phrase “the devil is in the detail” is an earlier phrase “God is in the detail” created to express the idea that whatever one does should be done thoroughly. After mulling all this over, I’ve decided to toss out the phrase “the devil is in the detail” and revise the meaning of “God is in the detail.” I’m choosing to believe that God is truly in each detail, working each out in a way that I can’t begin to understand or appreciate. I know that several months from now, I will be able to look back and marvel how God took care of the details and how the details that frightened me the most are also the ones that taught me the most.