There is a tension in my life, and maybe in yours too. It battles against my desire to live for God. It is a force that drives me away from trusting in Him at all times and towards relying on myself. It damages relationships, brings out insecurities, drives us to manipulate others, and inevitably governs my ability to have an intimate relationship with God and others.
Here’s the tension: I want to be in control.
In reality, I have realized that while I am responsible for many things, I am not in control of much of anything. We find ourselves in constant stress and frustration though, don’t we? We want things to go perfectly around us. If you don’t think you struggle with control, think back to the last time your kids acted up in public, or you got cut off on the highway, or your spouse did/said something you didn’t like or agree with - how’d you handle that?
In relationships, true intimacy requires me to relinquish control. You cannot have a genuine, authentic relationship with someone that is controlling. Only when there is true freedom and grace do we get to truly be ourselves and to know and be known by a spouse and by those that we chose to be in relationship with.
Have you ever been around a controlling person? The closer I have come to someone who likes to control others, I believe that they are usually the most insecure person in the room. On the outside, they put on a mask that says they have their stuff together. They seem to exude confidence, swag (I’m writing this from New Jersey so I can say stuff like that), and people around them often feel small or inferior.
It’s easy to point out someone else who is controlling. It gets real when I look in the mirror. I have to wonder, is there anything in my life, where unhealthy control is taking place?
The desire for control is in all of us. When life gets turned upside down through sickness, death, financial issues, kids, marital struggles...you name it. When we feel like life is careening out of control. We start to lose hope. We look to God and wonder how He could let this happen. We grasp onto anything that we can seemingly control.
So how do we overcome this?
First thing we must do is rightly place control in the correct hands. That control doesn’t belong to me, nor you. God is in control. He created all, sustains all, and remains in control of all.
I love this passage in Job, where God has had enough. Job and his friend have spent nearly 37 chapters trying to tell God how things should be done. Here’s how God responds:
God lays it on heavy for 3 chapters. You should go read it. I tried to put myself in Job’s shoes and read the Words of God. Pretty powerful. The Lord ends his attitude adjustment by saying this in Chapter 40:
How small do we try to make God when we try to explain and control the things that only He can explain - that only He controls. Few would say that we set out to diminish God’s power and control, but our actions sometimes prove otherwise.
So here’s some application:
I have found that I am at my best when I am on my knees. Acquiescing control of whatever I “think” I have control of to God. For me, I have to consistently, with open hands, give to God my plans, my dreams, my family, my relationships, my work, and everything that is important to me. I have to do this daily.
Having that prayer time is meaningful. Humbling myself and dropping to my knees is powerful. It is an act of worship that rightly places my heart in submission to God - to His control.
I pray often in these moments that God would help me to want what He wants for me. Help me to want to go and do where He desire for me to go and do. Help me to want to be the man He has called me to become. I then ask for His grace in these areas. I cannot do these on my own. It must begin with God’s movement inside of me. Did you notice that I first pray for my motives? Help me to “want to”.
If you want to see how dark and controlling we can be, ask God to reveal your true motives for why you do things. Even the seemingly good things. It’s scary how deceitful our own hearts can be. And yet, when we relinquish control and the desire to control over to God, He then enables our hearts to love and serve in the ways we were meant to. In our lives and leadership, we begin to relate to people with respect and honor, seeing them as God’s creation in whom He loves as well.
I want to challenge you to be out of control this week. You will see how faithful God is as He works in and through a life that is fully devoted to His plans and His will for you.