Giving control of our lives over to the Lord is probably one of the hardest things we as Christians face. While yes, loving people who can’t always love you back is hard, something inside of us yearns to bless others with the joy of feeling cared for. Control, however, is something our heart has desired from day one of our existence.
I grew up in a household where control was always established. My parents were the head of household and we didn’t have a choice in the matter: what they say, goes. No matter the cost.
Somehow, even though I wasn’t actually taught to rebel, there was a keen sense of independence in my heart that surfaced at quite a young age. I wanted to do things myself and I didn’t care what my parents said, if something was dangerous, hot, or I shouldn’t talk to strangers. If my parents said “Don’t”, I did. If something was dangerous, I was attracted to it. If something was hot, I didn’t believe them and burned my mouth when I shoved way too many pizza rolls in my face at once. When they taught me “Don’t talk to strangers”, I made friends with every single one of them. It was a repeating pattern in my life, and I could tell there were times where it frustrated the heck out of them.
However, the desire of my heart wasn’t necessarily what we would think of as control. I wanted control of a situation so I could be free to learn from it, not out of selfish ambition. I knew from when I was little that the best way I learned was from experience. I loved learning at the zoo because I got to experience the animals and sights around me. I loved learning science at school because I got to experience knowledge through experiments and other lab procedures. I loved dancing because as I practiced and learned, I became better and more experienced. While my pursuit of knowledge was good for me, the underlying method of obtaining it was almost always when I was in control; and friends, this never has a healthy outcome.
In the Garden of Eden, Adam wanted knowledge. He wanted to be like God, knowing both good and evil. However, if we rewind all the way back to the very beginning of the interactions that Adam had with God, we find something very interesting: from the start, Adam knew that God was in control. He woke up in a world created by God. Animals were brought to him by God. He was named by God. His perfect mate Eve was given to him by God. He was told by God to work in the Garden of Eden and mind its upkeep. Everything was designed and controlled by God.
However, there’s something else to this story! Even though God was technically in control of everything around them, He gave Adam and Eve a choice: He knew that even though setting both the Tree of Life and the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil in the garden would present temptations, it was far more worth it to offer them free will, have them choose their own path, and have to redeem them, than to have them running around like servants having no say in the matter. What’s creation good for if it has no choice but to love you? Is it really then love?
Lately I have been struggling to give up my selfish desires to the Lord. I have been planning my wedding for a little over a year now, and as this period in my life finally comes to a close, I am just starting to realize how this might have negatively impacted me. Because the phrase “it’s your wedding, you get what you want” has been rolling around in my head for so long, it’s almost gotten to me; everything has been revolving around me and Joe, which can do quite a number on a couple after a while!
Not always being in control of everything, like how many things might go wrong on the wedding day, how many guests actually show up, what Joe is going to say during his vows, and what the maid of honor and best man speeches are going to be like, has really got me in a tizzy. It was hard enough having my bridesmaids plan my bridal shower without knowing a single detail of what was going on!
Therefore, when I think about how God calls us to trust and obey Him in all areas of our lives, it really hits me to the core about how many issues I have with this. Why is it so difficult for me to just give them up and say “God, I know you got this, so here you go!”?
Going back again to the Garden, I think the reason why we have such a hard time with this is truly because of sin seeping into every single human’s life through what the Bible likes to call “The Fall”. When Adam and Eve chose knowledge instead of God, they were choosing to have control over their own lives. Even though God offered them literally the world, they wanted more. Isn’t it so easy for us to fall into this trap too?
When we choose to go out and get drunk instead of staying in and spending time in the Word, we choose control.
When we choose to indulge in impure relationships instead of saving ourselves for the one God is bringing us, we choose control.
When we choose to go on shopping sprees that we can’t afford instead of tithing to the church and giving out of joy, we choose control.
Friends, this is SO hard for me to write about because I struggle with ALL of these things! It really sucks because I do what I don’t want to do. Just like Paul wrote in Romans 7:15, “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.”
So, this week, in the midst of the temptation to have every area of our lives under control, I pray that we can take that leap of faith across the gorge and breathe; hand over that one thing in your life that you know God’s been asking for for a while, but you haven’t had the courage or strength to give it up.
Trust me, God ALWAYS gives you the strength to get through tough times. If I can get through planning a fourteen-month engagement separated from my family and fiance by over one thousand miles and somehow not lose my sanity, you can do anything!
“Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.”
~ Colossians 2:7 (NLT)