According to the Merriam Webster Dictionary, control is “to have power over” something. As humans, we love to have control over the things that we do. We love to have a plan. We have grown up hearing advice like this:
“You can do anything you set your mind to do!”
“Follow your heart!”
Nevertheless, when things don’t go the way we’ve planned, we can feel disappointed, unfulfilled, anxious, sad — even angry. We might have pictured our lives differently than they’ve turned out to be.
But what does the Bible say about control? Are we called to carefully determine every detail of our lives, and expect them to come true? Are we called to strive for a planned life? Not quite.
I. Let Go.
For Christians, the process does not start with our “plans” or desires. We are called to deny ourselves.
And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” Luke 9:23
“And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh, with its passions and desires.” Galatians 5:24
Yikes! That sounds hard! But don’t worry. It doesn’t end there. When we commit our lives to Christ, and let Him take control, He not only reveals to us the things we should “let go” of, but He is with us every step of the way.
“And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:20
God’s intent is not that we would live a life of discontent, sorrow and shattered dreams.
“The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.” John 10:10
A life worth living is a life with Christ. After all, it is the life each of us was created to live. There is nothing more fulfilling than living inside God’s will!
Do you want this rich and satisfying life? If so, what are some other things that you can do to let God “take the wheel”?
II. (Fully) Obey
Often times God tells us to do things that don’t seem logical, or normal! Sometimes He commands us to take a plunge at something we are completely new to. It can be scary!
Nonetheless, whenever God tells you to do something, do it. Be diligent. Follow through.
It can be something as simple as praying and reading your Bible each morning to something as radical as leaving your job or serving as a missionary on a faraway country.
Whichever the case, don’t try to find a middle ground between your current desires and God’s will. Half obedience is disobedience.
In the Bible, we can see what can happen if we don’t obey God. The result isn’t pretty.
In 1 Samuel, God told Saul (a young man whom the Israelites chose as king) to destroy the Amalekites and their possessions.
Saul did!…sort of.
He kept all the sheep and oxen, instead of getting rid of them, as God had commanded him. He did not follow God’s word all the way.
To make it worse, instead of acknowledging that he had – indeed- disobeyed, Saul started justifying his actions.
Saul said to him “…I have performed the commandment of the Lord!”
But Samuel said, “What then is this bleating of the sheep in my ears, and the lowing of the oxen which I hear?”
And Saul said to Samuel, “But I have obeyed the voice of the Lord, and gone on the mission on which the Lord sent me!
So Samuel said: “Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams.For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, He also has rejected you from being king.”
Ouch. Saul’s acts of disobedience cost him his crown. Often times we hinder God’s blessings for our lives because of this one thing. Obedience is key! Either we are following the Lord, or we are not.
Is there anything God has told you to do that you’ve been “half” obeying?
III. Expect warfare
The Christian life is perfect! NOT. Contrary to popular belief, we are actually called to expect trials and warfare. As we get closer to God, we are a bigger threat to the enemy, so he’s going to do anything possible to make us fall.
1 Peter 5:8 says “be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.”
If we are not strong with Christ, life’s circumstances will take us off guard and can knock us off our feet. Nevertheless, if we cling to God, He holds us:
“The Lord makes firm the steps of the one who delights in him; though he may stumble, he will not fall, for the Lord upholds him with his hand.” Psalm 37:23-24
We are called to be vigilant; to remain constantly in prayer, read the Word and get together with other believers. We have to seek Him daily! Don’t trust in yourself. If things are going good, don’t lay back. Don’t get comfortable.
“Therefore let him that thinks he stands take heed, lest he fall“ 1 Corinthians 10:12
The good part? God promises to give us peace in the midst of trials and uncertainty:
“And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:7
IV. Don’t compare yourself to others
Peter asked Jesus, “What about him, Lord?”
Jesus replied, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you?
As for you, follow me.” John 21:21-22
Peter was asking Jesus about John.
Jesus’ response? “That does not concern you! Just follow me!” How often are we like this! We see other people being successful at different areas of their lives and we start asking the Lord: “what about me?”
In the words of Os Hillman:
God has called us to a unique life that may look totally different from anyone else’s life. Once we begin to compare ourselves to others, we begin to live for others and ourselves.
Embrace the life God has for you. Protect it.
If you are following the Lord, then events won’t happen any sooner and any later than they should.
God knows what you need. If marriage or singleness is your concern, be sure that that exact moment you need a man, that exact day when God knows you NEED a husband, God will provide you with a person.
Don’t look or envy other people. That’s their life, this is yours. God knows your every desire, and He wants to bless you.
Another quote from Os Hillman:
There is a time for everything. If God has called you to some endeavor and you are frustrated that it has not manifested, know that times of preparation and simmering are required before the vision can be achieved. Seldom does God call and manifest something at the same time. There is preparation. There is testing. There is relationship building between you and God that must take place.
V. Don’t doubt God’s ability to take care of you
Often times, we look at our circumstances and we get anxious if things don’t go as planned. Not knowing or being certain of our future can also be a factor that is the start of worries in our minds.
We find it hard to trust God is in control of our lives. We don’t have peace.
Yet, when we commit our lives to Christ, He commands us to do this one thing:
“Be still and know that I am God….” Psalm 46:10
This anxiety that we feel stems from one very determining thing: we doubt God’s ability to take care of us.
Jeremiah 29:11 says “for I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
Do you believe this to be true?
Is your vision of God hindering your ability to trust in Him and let go?
God knows what you need, and when you need it. Trust that He will take care of you!
He is able.
VI. Rid yourself of presumptions, “what if’s”, and what you think “should” happen
“Nevertheless, in their presumption they went up toward the high hill country, though neither Moses nor the ark of the Lord’s covenant moved from the camp.” Numbers 14:44
In Numbers, we can see that when God told the people of Israel to conquer the land, they doubted. They were afraid, so they didn’t do it. They didn’t embrace God’s plan for them. They didn’t trust God would take care of them. They assumed control.
Later, they regretted it, but it was too late to go. It wasn’t God’s time or way anymore, yet they presumed they could still do it. Even when God warned He would not be with them, they trusted in their strength and tried to conquer the land. They lost that battle.
Often times we presume that things should go a certain way. We think:
“If God was with me, this shouldn’t have happened!”
“If this was truly God’s will, this and that should have happened by now!”
Nevertheless, God sees the bigger picture. He sees the purpose for every little detail in your life. Whenever you start assuming or over-thinking details in your life, look to His promises. God tells us:
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.
“As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8-9
God also assures us that “for those who love God all things work together for good.” Romans 8:28
We need to get rid of presumptions, “what if’s” and over-thinking. We need to let go and not be anxious. God’s in control. He has your best interest.
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7
VII. Don’t lose sight of God
“After the festival was over, while his parents were returning home, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but they were unaware of it. Thinking he was in their company, they traveled on for a day….” Luke 2:43-44
Mary and Joseph lost track of Jesus when he was a boy. They were traveling for the Festival of the Passover, and they assumed he was with them. He wasn’t!
In Os Hilman’s devotional “Going Without Jesus”, he asks us a very important question:
Are you experiencing daily, even moment-by-moment, fellowship with Jesus? If not, you will wake up one day and realize Jesus is not with you in your endeavors. It may, like Mary and Joseph, create a certain fear in you that you may have lost a very important relationship.
Jesus said He would never leave or forsake His children. However, we can walk away from His fellowship by refusing to be with Him. Do not let this happen to you. He longs to have daily fellowship with you because He loves you.
That being said, seek Him continuously.
Read the Bible.
“All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It straightens us out and teaches us to do what is right. It is God’s way of preparing us in every way, fully equipped for every good thing God wants us to do.” 2 Timothy 3:16-17
“And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests…” Ephesians 6:18.
“Pray without ceasing” 1 Thessalonians 5:17
Sometimes, God will call us to retreat – to go away from our daily routines and seek Him.
“The hand of the Lord was upon me there, and He said to me, ‘Get up and go out to the plain, and there I will speak to you.'” Ezekiel 3:22
Don’t get too busy. Like the popular saying goes: If you’re too busy to spend time with God, you’re too busy.
VIII. Enjoy life! (Really)
“Delight yourself also in the LORD: and he shall give you the desires of your heart.” Psalms 37:4
“…and whoever trusts in the LORD, happy is he.” Proverbs 16:20
“Young people,it’s wonderful to be young! Enjoy every minute of it. Do everything you want to do; take it all in. But remember that you must give an account to God for everything you do. So refuse to worry…!” Ecclesiastes 11:9-10
“...for the joy of the LORD is your strength.” Nehemiah 8:10
Seek to be thankful. Enjoy your life. Don’t worry. Embrace your calling. Trust Him!