I have heard this one cliché used by Christians since I was a boy. They say something like, “I just decided to turn it over to God.” Usually the phrase comes up when someone is struggling with a complicated issue. They will talk about reaching the end of their rope and then in a moment of clarity they say, “I just turned it over to God.” The rest of the story usually is about some happy ending to their problems.
The other day I heard it again and I had a small mental meltdown. The problem I see is that the phrase can mean nothing. In other words, I was struggling and I came to the point that I am no longer going to worry about it and let God work it out. I know that sounds nice, but is incredibly impractical and might actually be a bad idea.
My fear is that this phrase and others like it might actually be promoting an attitude of apathy. I will just let God handle my issues, and I will avoid any real work to change.
Giving your life to God is not a passive decision.
1. Turning it over to God means I will seek his will as found in his word. Some things are crystal clear in his word. There are some passages about how to handle forgiveness, sin, marriage and other difficult subjects that must first be read and understood.
2. Turning it over to God means I will pray intently about my struggles. There needs to be a day by day searching for God’s will, asking for his guidance while living in his forgiveness. Trusting God is connected to a commitment to prayer.
3. Turning it over to God means I will listen to the wise counsel of other believers. This can be a pastor, a professional counselor, or just an older believer. Trusting God means listening to those wiser voices who might have a different perspective than our own.
4. Turning it over to God means I will take the necessary actions to bring my life in line with God. Once we have sought God’s leading in his word, in prayer and in other people then we commit to go where he is leading. I have had countless people sit in my office seeking my advice. Then I offer it to them and watch them walk out the door to ignore everything I said. Later they return and ask me for more wisdom and I really wonder why.
5. Turning it over to God means trusting that my actions will not be in vain and he will bring about a positive ending. I may have to work for years to see any results. I may spend months beating my head against the hard wall of defeat. Even if there are no immediate results we keep doing the right thing, knowing that in the end God will make sense of it all.
The problem with most people who say things like, “Turn it over to God” is that they want to skip to number five on my list. They want to sit back and do nothing while waiting for some miraculous result. That is not really turning your life over to God, that is laziness.
I firmly believe in the concept of turning your life over to God, but only in healthy and Godly ways. If you are struggling I hope you will hand over the issues of your life to God and then push forward until you see some results.