(Almost) Out of Control

The only thing you can truly control is your attitude.

We like to think we’re in control in some ways. We like results. We like influence. We want to be able to manage well. We want to stick with a schedule or routine…or not. We want a certain standard…or not. We want someone to respond to us in a certain way. We think we know the best way to comfort or motivate someone. We just want to fix something in order to help someone we love.

It’s good to be responsible. But we can’t do so with the illusion that we are in control. Our responsibility comes out of obedience, not out of authority.

But you can control your attitude and your perspective. You can think you’re bigger, wiser, and more powerful than you are and, even though you might feel and appear to have control at times, it’s a mirage of pride. (We mask pride as responsibility, but when we’re not open to look at the world and ourselves through the lens of truth, it is still selfishness not matter how we disguise or rationalize it.) Or you can humbly seek truth, direction, provision, wisdom, and power from a source that actually has authority.

I often chuckle as I claim to be a recovering control freak, but in reality, it’s not all that funny. I want to believe and trust that my perspective is right (and trustworthy) but the only perspective I can truly trust happens when I set all my preferences aside–whether they seem good or bad to me–and ask God what His perspective is. Then, I follow…as best as I can, even when I don’t understand, even when I don’t see all the pieces, even when something seems counter-intuitive to me. And as I’ve followed Him, I’ve come to realize that He guides out of wisdom and power with authority and perspective that is unparalleled. Yet He is willing to share. He won’t let you down. Ever. Even when things don’t turn out the way you expect or want them to…if you were in control.

Take control by giving it up. After all, it’s really not yours to begin with.

“Let Me Manage!”

ladderMy husband and I helped clear out some “junk” from a machine shed at my parents’ house. (I use the term “junk” loosely. Some would assess some of the items as more valuable than others!) As he stood on the ladder, poised to bring down some items from the rafters, I analyzed and made suggestions from the ground. We both had opinions as to the best way to do things, and they differed a bit. My dad tried to insert his opinion, too. After all, it was his stuff and his building. We talked over him several times, insistent one of our ways would work.

Then, he firmly interjected, “Hey! Let me manage!”

My dad is like that. He wants to share his opinion, his suggestions. To be honest, his approach is often a really good one.

His interjection reminded me of how I treat God at times. I think my ideas are pretty good. I compare with others to get an even better plan. I don’t stop long enough to listen to the suggestions God is giving me all along.

He’s not usually insistent. He can be firm. He is always right. He has the best plan. He patiently waits for me to listen. I can only ignore Him for so long. I might try to manage, but compared to God, I’m pretty limited. After all, life is about Him. It’s all His.

Listen to His management today. He knows what He’s doing.

Only God

sanding-baby-triangleWe are only servants of God who helped you believe. Each one of us did the work God gave us to do. I planted the seed, and Apollos watered it. But God is the One who made it grow. So the one who plants is not important, and the one who waters is not important. Only God, who makes things grow, is important. The one who plants and the one who waters have the same purpose, and each will be rewarded for his own work. 1 Corinthians 3:5-8

God created us for community. Sometimes it makes sense to us. We help each other in ways we’re gifted and enjoy. We see how one situation prepared someone to walk alongside someone else later. We notice the connection between one person’s sacrifice and another’s need. We feel as if we fit with some people, especially as we serve alongside them on teams to accomplish God’s work. We bask in his provision.

We don’t always bask. We experience conflict. We get frustrated. We question where we fit or the timing of God’s provision. We feel alone and wonder where everyone is. We rush through our days and fail to notice God’s promptings to pause to serve or be served. We feel unequally yoked in relationships.

Living in community is difficult at times even when we’re in a community of believers. Personalities, schedules, and priorities seem to conflict more than complement each other. Sometimes we just want to scream, “Why can’t we all just get along?”

God brings us together in ways we can’t fathom. Even those situations which we think we understand might not be exactly what we perceive. God knows the details. He knows who we need to come in contact with for what purpose and in what timing. Our role is not to understand or manage everything he’s trying to do. Our role is to be sensitive to his leading and step out in obedience.

God wants us to help each other grow. He wants us to encourage each other on our faith journeys, which means bumping up against each other at times. When we’re willing, we usually grow more through the rough patches of life and relationships than the smooth ones. Sandpaper has little impact when used on the smooth side. Are you willing and available to be shaped?

Live It. Place a small piece of sandpaper or emery board in your wallet or phone case as a reminder throughout the day of the importance of living life intentionally alongside others.