I would’ve married the boy I had a crush on in second grade. My hair would’ve stayed bright blonde for my entire life. I would always hear appropriate theme music playing in the background as I go about my day (like in a movie). I would’ve had kids at an earlier age. I would own a big dog that doesn’t shed or drool.
I’m going to take a moment to breathe a sigh of relief that I don’t have control of my life. (Although I would still like that dog).
Nobody wants to be labeled as a control-freak. But can we be honest for a moment? If you dig deep enough, we all face this struggle. Even my 1-year-old daughter has control issues!
Desiring to be in control is a reality of the Fall, so it could be easy to justify our tendencies as part of the human condition and make it an acceptable sin. I’ve tried excusing this issue. I’ve tried denying it, too. In the end, I have decided it’s more helpful to just address it. The problem is that my control issues are the symptom or the reaction; the roots are something much uglier.
For me, there is one deep root that makes my control issues rear their ugly head — thinking that I know better.
I could make a long list of the ways that life in China challenges this issue in my heart. I’d love to have control over communications at my school. I’d love to organize when the water or electricity is turned off around the city. I’d love to be able to reset the traffic light patterns in my neighborhood to help deal with the constant gridlock. I would love to give my host country my opinions on their central heating system, their use of concrete for indoor walls, their uneven brick sidewalks, and many other things. I’m sure I know a better way to do things around here. (What gives me that notion? Crazy talk, right?).
The worst is when this root of thinking that I know better gets into my spiritual walk. Why are you sending me to do that, Lord? I would be better used in this way. Why did you put me on this team? I would serve better with those people. Why did you give me this portion? I want that one!
For me these kinds of conversations with myself or in my prayers have led to hard seasons of obedience when I had to learn that the Lord’s ways are better. I want control because I want to choose what is convenient, what is comfortable, or what is beneficial to me. That isn’t how God chooses to do things.
I love how the New Living Translation renders Isaiah 55:8, “My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the LORD. “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine.”
His ways are far beyond anything I could imagine. Anything? If you could be inside my head (which it’s best you can’t be), you’d know that my imagination is quite active. Over the years I have often imagined what the next season would look like. Where am I headed? Who will be going with me? Even this past summer I was trying to scheme a way for everything to fall perfectly into place in my life in 2016.
So far on the journey of my life, things have always turned out greater than I could imagine. Not because I set my expectations or dreams low. Not because life turned out to be convenient or comfortable or seemingly beneficial for me. But because I wasn’t in control. If I were in control, I’d make a mess of everything. The One who made me, knows better than I do. And He is the one in control. Therefore I can rest in His plans and relax in His sovereignty.
How does your host country challenge your desire to be in control?
When have you wrestled with the desire to control what the Father is doing in or around you?
How have you learned to let go of control in your life?