Saturday, November 19, 2016

The Sin of Control

            I am a control freak. Always have been. I have tried to manage my life in such a way that the results I hope to achieve is the outcome I receive. Unfortunately, life has a mind of its own and very rarely do the results I try to dictate happen. Often that which I try to control has the exact opposite reaction that I had hoped for in the first place! This condition of mine has caused me lots and lots of unwanted stress.
   Take these past few days for instance, they have been extremely stressful. So many things have been out of my control and there is nothing that I could do about it. One thing after another happened and there was nothing I could have done to control the outcomes that resulted. It is what it is. However, I find my heart in turmoil over these events. I have prayed and asked the Lord why these things have been happening and what lesson did He want me to learn from all of this? There must be a lesson because nothing happens to us without a reason, and the only explanation I came up with was I needed to learn something from all of this.
“Be still and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations. I will be exalted in the earth.” Psalm 46:10 ESV
            I heard a radio announcer say that she had been reading this Psalm and came across the definition of “Be still”. She said she was surprised and blessed to learn that it didn’t mean to rest, like we often think it does. It means to let go. To let something fall from your hands. These words of hers hit me hard and it started a little digging of my own. I found out that what she said was true.
            I pictured me standing on the shore of a lake, holding onto a rope attached to a boat out in the middle of the lake. I am holding on tightly to this rope, not wanting the boat to slip away. The boat starts to sink and it starts to pull me with it. If I don’t let go of the rope I will be pulled under and drown, but if I let go of the rope then I can walk away safe and sound. I won’t be hurt by the burns the rope will cause to my hands if I just let the boat sink.
            Being still means that we have surrendered the results to God. We recognize that what happens in this life is out of our control. For someone like me this is a hard lesson to learn. I like results. I like to put forth effort and see the results of my work. I’m a competitive person so it goes hand in hand that I will also be results driven. But, this attitude is an attitude of sin, and it wasn’t until today that I saw my desire to control for what it truly is.
            As Christians, we believe that God is sovereign. We say, pray and sing that He is in complete control of everything that happens. We believe that he is the Author and Finisher of our faith. We believe that He can and will move the mountains that stand in our way. Yet, every time I try to control the outcome I take upon myself the role of God. I take God off His throne and put myself in His place. (Yeah, I said “Ouch” too!)
            We believe God is sovereign yet we try to control the consequences, the actions and the results of our decisions and actions. We try to dictate the way others will react and how our life will
turn out. We believe God is Omniscient, yet we try to control the way someone reacts to us, or we try to manage the outcome we want. A control freak is someone who has a strong need to make other people do what they want their way. They want to control the outcome, the actions and even the reactions of others through various methods. Some of those methods are guilt, discipline, anger, manipulation and even, in my case, prayer! The reality is that every time I try to control what happens I take over the role of God and become my own god. I take God off the throne and I sit in His seat. I can’t control the outcome, only He has the power, ability and wisdom to do that.
            A farmer plows his field in preparation of the harvest. He tills the soil, prepares the ground and plants his seeds. He tends to the seeds by fertilizing them and providing the nutrients that they need to grow. He puts the work into making sure that he has a successful harvest. But the outcome, the results of his labors, is completely out of his control. He can do the work and plant the seeds but the harvest is up to God and God alone. The farmer can’t make the seeds grow. Only God can give them the increase.

            Psalm 46 is a reminder and a reprimand to us that we are not God. Life is going to happen. Mountains are going to be moved into the sea and the earth is going to tremble under our feet. But we are not in control of any of it. (vs. 1-4) We cannot make the earth stop trembling nor can we dictate which sea we want that mountain to get moved to. All we can do, all we should do, is flow in the presence of our Almighty God, like a peaceful river, glad and rejoicing that all the results are His to handle and not ours to control. He alone will be exalted among the nations and He alone will be exalted in the earth. “The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.” (Psalm 46:11) He doesn’t need our help. Amen?