I want control. Control over what I do with my life, who I spend time with, who I don’t spend time with, how I spend my money, what I choose to wear, who I choose to like, who I choose not to like, who I choose to love, who I choose not to love, the food I eat, the amount I eat, the time I go to bed, the time I wake up, what I watch, when I watch it, where I spend my time. I want control.
Control is one of those sneaky lies. It’s appealing and pretty and shiny, and it feels so right as it stares at me and entices me. So I grab hold, I take control, and the ride begins. At first it feels great. Things are in alignment, I feel happy, I’m excited. My decisions result in a better life.
And then something slowly starts happening. I choose to ignore it at first, thinking it’ll go away. That small something enters my brain and my heart, and as much as I try to push it down, to suppress it, it sits there, and gets heavier.
Before I’m able to stop, I’ve entered a gigantic pool of mud. With each decision I make to control my life and my outcomes, I trudge deeper into the pit, into the muck. Every step is laborious, heavy, and discouraging, but because I need to be in control, I keep taking steps. I start to get tired, burdened, dirty, gross, and I just can’t push myself to walk any further. I can’t even direct my own steps. When I stop walking, I start to sink even deeper.
I want control. But I can’t handle it.
I sink deeper into believing the lie that I know what’s best for my life. But I don’t. The One who created me does. Jesus’ followers denied themselves, and left all they knew to follow Him. But denying myself and following God means risk. It means potential heartache. It means walking in the unknown. It means trusting God with the outcome of my life. Wouldn’t that be harder than trudging in the mud?
“Then Jesus told his disciples, ‘If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it” (Matthew 16:24-25, emphasis mine).
Freedom only comes when I release the white-knuckled grip I’ve got on my attempt to control my life. Freedom comes when I allow God to pull me back to my senses and remind my weak, fragile heart that I need His strength and His guidance to truly experience life.
“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30).
And when I release this grip, when I give God the control, something miraculous happens. I feel myself getting a little lighter. The mud and muck glides off my skin and I rush towards the surface. I find myself on dry, clean, fresh land, remembering His yoke is easy, His burden light. My fleshly tendency repeatedly puts me right back in the middle of this mud pit, trying to plan my life, manipulating it to have the outcome I desire, only to once again have God pull me out of the muck with a patient, grace-filled hand.
“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:11-13).
God knows me more intimately than I know myself. He understands my needs, my wants, my desires, my frustrations, my inner turmoil, and He has a plan for every single piece of it. The One who created me has a plan for my life, and with as little faith as I can muster, I will attempt to trust Him with it. And when I find myself in the middle of that pool of mud again, and He has to pull me out of it, I will be ever so thankful that He is my Protector and He never gives up on me.
“The Lord is at hand; 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 4:5b-7).