There are times in my life where it seems like life itself is out of control. Many may not know it, but there are certain things in my life that I like to control. Some things I feel I am a control freak about may not seem like a big deal: the need to be in the driver’s seat, the need to hold the TV remote, or the need to have more creme and sugar in my coffee. Other things I feel I am a control freak about are a big deal: the direction of my life, the health of my family, the way my children behave, the direction of the ministry I am responsible for, the financial well-being of my family, the way my children behave (yes, I know I repeated it! I have 3 kids all under 4 years old!), and the list could go on!
I think back to the Old Testament when God interacts with a guy by the name of Abram (Genesis 12). God asks Abram, whose name will soon change to Abraham, to leave everything Abram knows and follow him! Not a big deal right … wrong! What God is ultimately asking Abram to do is let go. Let go of all that you know, your family, your country, all of those things you are familiar with – all that you have built up in your life, all that you have in your CONTROL and follow God! You know the crazy thing? Abram does it! He ultimately turns over all control to God and does what He asks!
God doesn’t stop there! God speaks to a young woman by the name of Mary. She is planning her wedding at the time and we all know how people can be when it comes to wedding planning! I can only imagine the joy and excitement that Mary has at this time of her life. She and her family were likely the talk of their social circles! They were counting down the days to the special day when Mary would be given away to the man that she loved. She probably thought that she had everything under control, she had it all planned out, there might have been some hiccups, but she probably even thought about how to navigate those. Then, God shows up! God tells her that she is no longer in control – the plans she thought she was going to have are going to look a little different. Even before this planned-out wedding, she would become pregnant with a baby. If you haven’t figured it out yet, the baby’s name is Jesus! There are many amazing things that happen in this encounter with God, but for this blog I want to focus on the amount of CONTOL Mary let go of!
I don’t want you to hear negative, but the reality is that when you have children, you lose control over many things! You lose control over the ease of decision making, you lose control over the speed in which you can move, you lose control over your own well-being in order to protect, provide, and love them! I know this because remember I have 3 kids under 4 years old! I know I sound ungrateful, but please understand that I love my children and would do anything for them, but the truth still stands. When you have children, you lose a certain level of control over your own life! The amazing thing with Mary is that even with some of her concerns, she replies to God by saying, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord: let it to be me according to your word” (Luke 1:38aESV).
God doesn’t stop there! Jesus is born and roughly 30 years later begins his ministry to share with the world God’s love for them! He decides that he isn’t going to do it alone, so he walks around and speaks with 12 men. Each encounter has a similar conversation, “Do you want to leave everything you know, everything you have built up in your life, everything you are familiar with, and follow me?” (My paraphrasing.) The outcome is the same with all 12! They left everything they knew, everything they had built in their lives, every ounce of CONTROL they thought they had and left it to follow Jesus!
If you have been in church for a period of time or have read through the Bible, you know that it is because of these moments in history that we today are able to be in a relationship with Jesus Christ. You also know that it is only through a relationship with Jesus Christ that you will be able to stand face to face with God our creator! You also know that as a Christian (Christ follower) that is the ultimate goal: to love God above all else and to share that love with others. What you might not know is the level of CONTROL you will need to give over to God.
I find myself writing this blog because of this struggle of CONTROL over my life. I am not doubting my faith in who God is and that I need his love, grace, and mercy more than anything else in my life. What I am struggling with is the fact that I constantly want CONTROL over my life. When my wife is sick, I want the control to make it better. When my children struggle to sleep through the night because of bad dreams or leg cramps or whatever, I want the control to help them! When I see a car accident happen on the highway, I want the control to stop it. When I hear of marriage struggles, of relationship struggles, of neglect or abuse, I want the control to stop it all! But…
It is in those moments that I find myself wanting to curl up in a ball in the corner and make it all go away, but I cannot! There are times that I have tried that, and it only makes things worse! I have found throughout my life that it is in those moments that I can do nothing else but run to the one who CAN – God! Believe me, it is totally counter to everything in my human body to do just that, because ultimately what God is going to ask me to do is to let go! Let go of the CONTOL I think I have, let go of the negative things that are happening around me, let go of the things that ultimately are not, and never were, in my control and give them to Him! I am speaking from personal experience, this is easier said than done!
I think about the time the Apostle Paul writes the very famous verse in Philippians 4:13“I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” (ESV) Many take this verse out of context. Paul wrote this when he was in prison for teaching about the love and mercy God gave us though his Son Jesus Christ! Talk about not in CONTROL! Last time I checked you have minimal control if in prison, yet Paul says He can make it through today because his strength comes from God!
I, like Paul, have had to remind myself that God is in control and that I can make it through today because of Him! I have to remind myself daily, and sometimes multiple times a day, of that fact – otherwise, I find myself curled up in the corner! Please don’t hear me say this is something done easily! My human side screams to hold on to the control, but my heart knows I need to lay it at the feet of the cross daily! In my heart I want to be like the great people of Scripture and give all CONTROL I think I have over to God! It may be through gritted teeth and with a clinched hand, but I have to give it to Him! Paul also says, “When I’m weak, than I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:10b). How could he say this? He can say this because right before, Jesus reminds him, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
Understanding that I CAN’T, but that He CAN, gives me CONTROL to give everything to Him!
What CONTROL do you need to surrender to Jesus?