I hate playing God.
Lately, I’ve been struggling with that as I deal with my dog Marti’s health. Marti began losing weight sometime during my surgery and recovery and when we took her in, they diagnosed her with Lyme disease, with a principal attack on her kidney functions.
Since we found this out, we have been working with the vet to find out if the kidneys are past the point of no return or if there is hope for recovery. Marti is only 9 and until this happened had been in excellent health, so we know she still had some good days in her.
But it’s hard — trying to figure out what the right thing to do is. How far should we go in our doctoring, what is compassionate, and what are we doing for her sake and what are we doing for our sake. So far, she is still lively enough to go for walks and co-star in my children’s sermons. But as our options become more limited, I know there are tough choices ahead. And as I think about those, I struggle with the fact that I hate playing God.
As fall rolls around, I know that for many of us there are similar struggles related to COVID-19 and all things pandemic. Folks are wondering what to do as far as schooling for their kids, how to interact with people who may not have been isolated but are still family, how to respond to situations in our work life that one feels might be compromising and a host of other situations where we feel we are placed in a lose/lose situation.
It’s at times like that when we may struggle with whether we are playing God. Trying to make decisions and choices that are above our pay grade, with consequences that are far-reaching.
As I deal with the decisions and choices I have to make with Marti — which I am not comparing to human life, of course, by any stretch of the imagination, but pets are part of the family — I am reminded of one of my favorite Bible verses. “Be Still and Know that I am God.” (Psalms 46:10.)
This verse is my breath prayer — the one I say when I need to slow down or relax or just breathe. It is what I breathe in and breathe out when I need to clear my head, refocus and find peace in the midst of the turmoil of life.
When I use this verse as the focus of my prayers, it first of all reminds me that I need to BE STILL. In other words, to cease my frenetic worry, or constant motion, or need to have all of the answers right now. To just slow down, focus and feel the presence of God.
But the second thing it does is remind me that God is God and I am not. I can’t play God. Because that role is just not in my wheelhouse. I am a child of God, a disciple of Jesus, and a temple of the Holy Spirit, but I can’t play God. I can simply trust God.
So when I have tough choices to make, I need to breathe in, breathe out and ask God to guide my choices and grant me peace. I find when I do that and I center myself in the Word of God and wrap myself in the stillness of God’s presence, I am usually led to where I need to go. I find as Paul puts it, that “peace that passes all understanding” (Philippians 4:7), which gives me courage in the face of my fear and strength in the face of my weakness.
I don’t know how things are going to turn out with Marti. There is still lots of uncertainty, but I know when the time comes to make them, I won’t be playing God. I will be listening and trusting that wherever the path leads, God will be there, for me, and yes, for my dog. For if God cares for the birds of the air and the lilies of the field, how much more will God care for me.
God of all creation, you care for all creatures of the field and birds of the air, which you made. Remind us that you also care for us and that you are Lord of the universe and it is not up to us to assume we are the ones in control. Help us to trust you with our tough choices, so that we can hear your voice and find the peace that you offer. In the name of the one who is God and yet was fully human we pray. Amen.