Lord of All means access to His eternal purpose and supernatural power, but requires surrender. Suffering is often the road to ‘Your will be done, not mine.’
For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. (Colossians 1:16)
It’s both awe-inspiring and comforting that our God, the Lord of all, holds all things in the palm of His hand. Absolutely nothing in this universe – good or bad – exists outside of the will of God. Everything was created by Him and for Him. While both man and the powers of darkness bend things to their own will, our God still ultimately holds control. It’s an established, unshakeable fact. Anything created belongs to God and is subject to His power and sovereign authority. Everything is created. Therefore, everything is and functions within the limitations and parameters that God has defined.
Our contradictory response to Lord of all.
Human nature is remarkably perverse, as it’s driven by self most of the time. Our perceptions and responses to things change depending on our needs and circumstances. The truth of Lord of all is no exception. On one hand, we’re more than happy that He is in control. He is our God, after all, and having Him in the ‘driver’s seat’ is to our advantage. Serving a God who is bigger than everything else and more powerful than all things put together puts us in a stronger position. Expressions like ‘holy nation’ and ‘royal priesthood’ and ‘set apart for God’ serve to bolster self. It’s all too easy to slide into complacency and to imagine we’re somehow exempt from the ‘bad things’ and ‘deserve’ only the blessings.
But we just as easily resent God when self is challenged or threatened. Free will, of course, is our area of weakness. Enforcing our so-called ‘right’ to exercising our own will instead of obeying God’s will is a never-ending source of conflict. But our greatest struggle is often when things do not go our way. This is especially true in the midst of the storm, when suffering and tribulation batter at our faith and upend all our neat expectations. We’re often angry with God and lash out at Him in our distress. He is Lord of all, and so is able to end things and remove the problems. Yet He doesn’t. In fact, He seems to sometimes even prolong them. When we don’t understand, our very human response is to react with bitterness, resentment, anger, and woundedness.
Lord of all and our fallen world.
Today’s verse is my ‘back to the wall’ reminder that puts things powerfully back into right perspective. When all ‘hell’ is breaking loose around me, I use this verse to ground me. It sets my feet upon the rock and puts my focus on both the Lord of all and the I AM of God. Our God is both sovereign and perfect provider. Nothing can alter the truth or reality of this. The world, the powers of darkness, and the flesh can do nothing to change this, render it ineffectual, or deny it. Our God was, and is, and is to come. He is eternal and without end, Alpha and Omega, and vast beyond the feeble comprehension of man. God simply is, and so His power, majesty, glory, and holiness are as well.
But we live in a fallen world. When temptation rises up to lash out at God for His perceived ‘failure,’ we need to remind ourselves that God did not cause the evil of the world or the sinfulness of man. Free will, with a good dollop of help from the devil, did that. But the Lord of all remains in control because He knew what would happen from the beginning of time. Not only that, but He put in place all that we need to sustain us and bring us through the fire, burnished like true gold. The Lord of all we serve uses every single thing that happens to us, good or bad, and works it to our good – if we let Him.
The struggle between free will and Lord of all.
I’ve been through things – tragedy, devastation, destruction, and suffering. For a long time, my life was a nightmare of generational curses, spiritual oppression, and even spiritual attack on every level that brought me to death’s door more than once. Through it all, free will operated with a kind of desperate defiance that, in retrospect, only exacerbated the problems. I lived in anger against God for a very long time. Lord of all, for me became the ‘great and mighty God of taking away.’ The biggest issue was that I had definite ideas of how I thought the Lord of all should resolve the problems and order my life. My ‘surrender’ to God was determined by what I thought should happen. When He didn’t meet those expectations, free will lashed out.
For a long time, I struggled to understand. I wanted to serve God, but with free will expectations. Real surrender is a very different thing, however. It is, quite simply, setting free will aside, no matter what. We easily delude ourselves into believing we’re fully yielded to the Lord of all when His will lines up comfortably with ours. When it doesn’t – when conflict arises – we fall back into our wrong expectations and lash out at the only one who is able to save, heal, deliver, and empower us. It was only when I was utterly broken by my own attempts to ‘have a life’ that I saw the truth. The greatest power our free will has is when we lay it down. We need our Garden of Gethsemane moment when, like Jesus, we can truly say ‘not my will but Yours,’ irrespective of the consequences.
Surrender to the Lord of All.
When we’re at the absolute end of all that we, it’s heartbreakingly painful to yield. Our instinct fights against it, but it’s the place – literally – of laying down our lives. I often think of Daniel in this context, and of his response. ‘Okay, Lord, if it’s Your will that I be lion lunch, so be it.’ Our instinct is to kick and scream and fight every inch of the way. We’re like Jonah in that respect, and are then surprised to find ourselves in the whale. As human beings, we’re wired to be visionaries. It’s a God-given ability to enable spiritual discernment and prophetic understanding and guidance. But self hijacks this. Free will uses it to formulate our own ‘vision’ of how things should work out. Then we fight tooth and nail to make it happen, believing we’re in the will of the Lord of all.
The reality is that our sufferings are often the result of free will. Of course, Satan works against us as well, and I know the reality of aggressive, life-threatening spiritual attacks. But we inadvertently open doors to empower these attacks, or our responses often prolong them. Yes, God is absolutely in control. He works everything to the good of those who love Him. But He also respects our free will. Sometimes, the only way we can learn to let go and let God is when we’re so broken that we’re all out of self. It’s a harsh truth but it’s not one of condemnation. The Lord of all is faithful, and He will protect us and guide us through it, even when it may seem He is not there. There is only one ‘right’ response, which we learn from Job. ‘Though He slay me, yet will l trust in Him.’
The eternal purpose and power of the Lord of all.
I cannot speak for others, but I can say with absolute certainty that my life changed when I changed. There was a single, distinct moment when I saw the I AM of God with vivid clarity. It was a revelation of the Lord of all and His eternal purposes. I realised that His will is perfect. His purposes and plans are perfect. God’s power is greater than anything this world or Satan can bring against me. Everything rests in the palm of His hand, and my will is of no relevance or meaning at all. It was a moment when I saw that God’s will is really all that matters, irrespective of what the consequences may be. In that moment, I accepted that I would rather not live if it meant living outside of His eternal will and purposes.
It didn’t remove the difficulties we all face, but it changed my perspective. I do have to remind myself of today’s verse now and then when things seem ‘too much.’ But His grace daily empowers me to look to Him, even when I don’t understand. Self still rises up, and my frailty and weakness still lurk to distract me. But the Lord of all is there, always faithful to respond to my cries andlead me forward. I know that when the time is perfect, He will command the storm to ‘be still.’ He has taught me that His purposes are eternal. They are not limited to or governed by what happens in the world. We may never fully understand what these purposes are, but the assurance is simply that they are – real, perfect, immovable. Everything, in the hands of the Lord of all, has eternal purpose.
Finding the Lord of all in the storm.
The hardest thing is to look beyond the hurt, the anguish, the struggle, and the exhaustion. When the assault has driven us to our knees, it seems impossible to look up. But look up, we must. In that place of darkness and despair, we can learn from Jesus who has experienced everything we have or will. If we call on the Saviour and He will give us grace and strength to yield. ‘Not my will, but Yours be done.’ This is the moment where we crucify self. It’s the moment where we acknowledge that even if we are utterly destroyed, His purposes will work to our good. My life is a testimony to the truth of this. The Lord of all will supernaturally empower our prayer to bring us through, by His grace and mercy, to a place of victory we could never even imagine.
Lord of all, help us to surrender all, to lay down our free will with willing and rejoicing hearts. Even in the storm, give us the grace to look to You. When we don’t understand or cannot comprehend, guide us to the place where we see beyond self and circumstance to Your perfect will and eternal purposes. Thank You for the assurance that You are both faithful and all-powerful, and that our lives rest in Your hands.