Out of Control

Last week as we eased back into work after significant time off from it over the Christmas holidays, one of my peers said “Gee, if the last few days back have been any indication of what lies ahead this year, we are all doomed to exhaustion”.

And it is true the first two weeks back in the office have been breathtaking (as in sucking the life out of you). I’ve had meeting after meeting, goals established that look to be impossible, financial targets that are significant, and I’ve once again come to realize just how much of my life is outside my control. And not just at work.

It’s been said that most of our stress comes from the failure to recognize the difference between a problem and a fact. Problems you can work, facts are just facts and no amount of consternation will change a fact. The stress comes from trying to change facts rather than working problems.

That may be true, but my problems (not just the facts) are utterly overwhelming and sometimes just thinking about working on my problems and challenges wears me out.

Do you feel like it’s all out of your control like I do? Do you try to control it all?

It’s hard for us to admit we are out of control. And yet I believe that is exactly where God wants us. He places us in situations that obliterate our ability to control outcomes. Why? So that we can learn to rest in the fact that He does control outcomes and He “works all things for our good” (Romans 8:28).

It is hard for God to work all things for our good when we want to work things for our good ourselves.

Working things for our good ourselves is foolish in a couple ways:

1. How do we know what is “for our good”? We are not omniscient like God is – what makes us think we can do a better job than He can? It’s the height of arrogance.

2. It is the utmost in idolatry to try to control what only God can. You’d think we believed we were God by the way we act sometimes!

Let me tell you something that I don’t want you to forget when you feel out of control, overwhelmed, and exhausted:

It is a huge relief not to have to be God.

So, let God be God, be faithful as you can where He’s called you, and then go out and get a milkshake. It will be alright. He’s promised. And He never breaks His promises.

Question: What are you trying desperately to control and as a result feeling anxious and confused and helpless? What will you do with this opportunity to relinquish control?

Grace and Hope Are Everywhere… If You Know Where to Look

I mouthed off at Laura yesterday. Well, I guess you wouldn’t call it “mouthing off” but I did an “I told you so”. I do that a lot. I am trying to be rid of that nasty habit…er.. uh… sin…

Anyway, we have an agreement that when things like that happen, we call each other on it. And she called me on it. My first reaction, as always, was defensive, telling her that even though it was an “I told you so” at least the information that I was providing was correct. That only made it worse.

Thing is, even if the information was correct, she didn’t need it. She already knew it. And even if she didn’t know it, she didn’t need me to call it up.

“I told you so’s” are just another form of control that we use on others when we don’t see things going according to our plans. You see, you and I will do anything to get what we want. If you violate my agenda for myself, I will even “murder” according to James to get what I want.

Our hearts can be so desirous of control. It points up many things that are wrong with us. For one thing, it is a failure to trust God – you see we do not trust God that He will work in the other person’s life without our pointing out their faults. We do not trust God with control over the situation so we feel the only thing appropriate is for us to take control ourselves. It is actually a form of idolatry. All of sin is a form of idolatry.

There is hope though.

  • Hope in God the Father. You see because God is in control, we don’t have to be. It is such a relief not to have to be God when you come down to it. Right? I mean who would really want to carry that much control and responsibility? Yet we try to do it in our lives and in the lives of others all the time.
  • There is also hope in Jesus. Because of the work Jesus did on the cross there is forgiveness and grace upon grace. Jesus provides the grace we need when we cannot be in control. And the hope that one day, control won’t even be an issue. Jesus will come back and balance the books for everything we’ve done wrong to others and ourselves, and everything others have done wrong to us. And He will do a far better job of setting things straight than we could ever do.
  • There is finally hope in the Holy Spirit. It was the Holy Spirit that led me to repent and tell Laura I was sorry and it was the Holy Spirit that led her to forgive me even before I asked.

God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit pour grace upon grace on us who know Him (yes Him… there is one God, in three persons). Because of God, we do not have to be in control, we do not have to be right, we have nothing to prove. We just have to rest in His grace and love. When we do that, we can be free. Being free means not having to be in control, worry, doubt, or fear.

Those whom the Son sets free are free indeed (John 8:36).

On this Christmas eve, I hope that if you do not know Jesus that you will finally trust Him and that if you do know Him, you will rest in the grace that God deposits all around us.

Question: Where have you experienced His grace and hope in your life recently?