Recounting a recent conversation between my daughter and my nearly three-year-old granddaughter, I was reminded of the struggle it can be to let go of control in our lives. (Disclaimer: Gracie is as joyful and sweet as they come…but the inner struggle occasionally gets the best of all of us, whether we are two or ninety-two years old.)
K: Gracie, you haven’t been potty since this morning. You’ve had a lot to drink and you need to go potty before you take your nap.
G: I don’t need to go.
K: Yes, you need to go.
G: No, I’m not going potty. I can hold it.
K: You will try before you go to bed. Gracie, you are not going to win. I’m going to win. You might as well go potty now.
G: No, I will win. I’m the boss.
K: (With eyes bulging and praying to keep her cool amidst the sassiness) What?! You are not the boss. And you will go to the potty now or be disciplined!
G: (Knowing discipline is eminent) I’m going potty! You and daddy are the boss! You and daddy are the boss!
Sounds rather two-year-oldish, right? Well, I can certainly relate to the struggle. I can struggle with letting God be in control (as if I could possibly be in control of God, anyway). I can think I must figure it out, work it out…anything but faithfully waiting and trusting. I am reminded of the discourse between God and Job. After God questions Job (on who is in control) Job replies:
Then Job replied to the LORD: “I know that you can do all things; no plan of yours can be thwarted. You asked, ‘Who is this that obscures my counsel without knowledge?’ Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know. “You said, ‘Listen now, and I will speak; I will question you, and you shall answer me.’ My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you. Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes.” Job 42:1-6
It’s not hard to see the fight for control in a two year old. It can be more difficult to see it in ourselves. So, what do your struggles for control look like? Here are some of mine.
It’s all too easy when my husband has neuropathy and doctors can’t yet find out why… to spend more time on Google than on my knees. The struggle (not in my mind but in my actions) comes with my desire to fix things…thus becoming more self-reliant than God-reliant.
It can be an inner struggle for me to trust that God is always out for my good. Instead I can dwell in fear. I can take most anything and find a way to worry about it. When I do this, I am taking control of my life and plans, rather than entrusting them to my Father, who loves me so much he eagerly hears me, watches over me, sings to me, and allowed his only son to die for me.
I can feel a struggle for control when I feel anxious and repeat conversations in my head after someone hurts my feelings or something isn’t fair…somehow thinking it will be better staying in my mind than releasing it from my grasp and giving it to God…fasting and praying that God will move in the situation and help all of us learn things we need to learn.
It can be a struggle to let go of control and say “I’m sorry” when I feel like someone else has “more to be sorry for,” as if my doing the right and humble thing would somehow make matters worse.
When my plans for my life get disrupted and God has other (or divergent) plans I can say (in grown up words)…”I’m not going potty. I don’t need to.”
Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.
…Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up. James 4:7-8, 10
However, when I pray and read and meditate on God’s truth, it’s much easier to say, “I’m going potty. You are the boss.” And truthfully, that’s a really good thing. The result of my granddaughter’s trust and obedience made her feel better, left her kidneys healthier, and saved the sheets from a wash. Likewise, as I let God “take the wheel” of control in my life…. I feel much better as peace and joy take over the place where stress and anxiety once resided.
Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7 (NLT)