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You’re Not the Boss of Me!

August 16, 2016

“You’re not the boss of me!” The words slipped defiantly from our four year old daughter’s lips 28 years ago. It startled and amused me at the same time. I can’t recall what prompted the outburst, but it must have been a health or safety issue, because I learned early in my career as a mother to heed the advice of those wiser than me and limit my battles with the kids to significant issues.

We often act like four year olds. Our actions, if not our words, rail against God, as we stalk off on our own: “You’re not the boss of me—I control my destiny!”  We want to believe that we are in charge, until we get in a jam. Then we expect our all-powerful God to be a cosmic butler and immediately rescue us in the way and at the time that we demand it. That doesn’t always happen.  Is that how a loving God acts?

The author of Hebrews[1] says yes—that discipline is as important a part of our education as Christians as it was in our upbringing as children by loving parents: “It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom the father does not discipline? . . . Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good that we may share his holiness. For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.” (Hebrews 12:7-11).

A.W. Tozer argues that God refines us by putting us through the fire: “If only we could truly believe that God has an agenda in this world and that we are part of that agenda. Although the circumstances of our life are opportunities for God to defeat the world, the only thing standing in the way is the hesitant Christian demanding that God rescue him from any trouble. But it is trouble that enables God to get the glory. . . The fire burns out the impurities and brings the gold to a state of purification. The more intense the flame, the purer the gold.” (Tozer, The Crucified Life (2011) compiled and edited by James L. Snyder, Bethany House, p. 206). He reminds us that God is with us even when the flames threaten to consume us, just as he was with Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in the fiery furnace. He asks “How many times have we missed the fragrance of God’s presence because we resist the furnace and the tribulation and the suffering before us? We have it all worked out. We read a couple of verses of Scripture and say ‘I believe.’ That settles it . . . We want to be coddled on our way to heaven and have an easy life. . . There is no revelation of God in following that path. There is no experiencing the fragrance of God’s presence.” (Tozer, The Crucified Life p, 207-208).

We can’t save ourselves, but Jesus reminds us that we must put in some effort: “Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many I tell you will try to enter and will not be able to.” (Luke 13:24). Whether you like it or not, whether you accept it or not, whether you believe it or not, the reality is that the only door to God’s kingdom is through Jesus. He asks us to remember that while we have choices, his way is the best way, and we need to be diligent in our efforts to follow him, whatever the cost.

Diane Cieslikowski Reagan




[1] The Scripture texts for the Fourteenth Sunday after Pentecost are Psalm 50:1-15; Isaiah 66:18-23; Hebrews 12:4-24; Luke 3:22-30.

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