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Out of Control

I love to be in control. Janet Jackson sang, “I’m in Control – Never gonna stop; Control – To get what I want. Control – I like to have a lot. Control – Now I’m all grown up.” And I was singing right along with her, determined to be the master of my own destiny, the ruler of my life and my decisions. No one else was going to tell me what to do!

It’s not all been bad, this need for control. Certainly I have achieved some things, had an impact in different places. I’ve made a mark. But ultimately I’ve learned control is hollow, for along with it comes a need to always know, an inability to let go and trust, the tendency to micromanage everything to try and guarantee a particular outcome, and especially a TON of fear – fear of not knowing, fear of failing, fear of succeeding, fear of a wrong decision, fear of letting go, fear of losing face. Why? Control can’t navigate those things perfectly. They can’t be rehearsed, practiced, manipulated, or perfected prior to execution.

Control is like a dandelion in the field of my heart. I pluck off a leaf, but it can easily grow back. I tear off the entire top, but it just grows back. I pull it out by what I think is the root, but there are still pieces of it hiding deep in my heart, and it grows up yet again, waiting to take back over.

I am learning the importance of leaning into God each and every day, of sincerely asking Him to direct my steps, to guide my decisions, to lay out His plans before me so I can make them my own, and to ask Him to do what He was designed for (and I am not) – to take control of my life on a day-to-day basis. Amazingly, He has shown up again and again to bless me, to navigate me in directions that I would have never chosen to go in on my own. He leads me to places that scare me because I don’t understand how it’s all going to work, or exactly how it’s going to play out. Yet time and time again, it’s in these exact places I discover the most joy, the most abundance, and the deepest sense of peace.

I now understand that it’s not about me taking charge at all to see something great happen in my life or in the lives of those around me. It’s about trusting that God, the Creator of the Universe, the One who knit me together in my mother’s womb (Psalm 139:13), actually does know what’s best for me; and if I lean into Him and trust His direction, even when I don’t understand it, good things happen.

I’m sure you’ve heard it said, “God helps those who help themselves.” I think there’s some truth to that. You’ve gotta be moving to be directed. But there’s a danger to that statement, too, because it assumes you and I know what’s best. We only need to look back at our life and think of the decisions we’ve made that seemed so great at the time, but for which we now feel nothing but embarrassment and shame. We don’t always do so well when we’re in complete control. We don’t tend to be too objective with ourselves.

So each day, I’m making a decision to put God firmly in control. It’s a decision to let go of whatever it is I’m clutching onto firmly in my hands, and instead, offer it up to Him. The more I let go, the more He takes over and directs me perfectly along a path that is so much better, so much richer than the paths I’ve tried to cut out for myself. And because He’s driving, I get to sit back and enjoy the journey.

For Further Thought: We tend to read this verse only at funerals, but it is an amazing scripture for everyday life! Psalm 23 says to us:

The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures,he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right pathsfor his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil,for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

What is a specific situation you are trying to keep control of right now that belongs in God’s hands? Think of that situation, and then read through this psalm again. Open up your hands and let it go into His. Then fight to keep those hands open!

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