Penned 2/18/2021

Faith Vs. Control

The low point of 2020 for me was the day I ate lunch from not only Panda Express but also Taco Bell. Together. As one meal. As if they complement one another and aren’t two separate fast food entities.

I’m not proud.

From there I decided it was time to take back control of my life. I’d been treating the quarantine as a food free-for-all and I knew this had to stop now. I didn’t feel good – I was sluggish and unmotivated. I knew this had to be a turning point.

The fact is, I hate feeling out of control. I like knowing what’s coming. I may hit you reflexively if you come up behind me to scare me. I do not want to be caught off guard with something. I like control.

But what is control? And can someone who professes to have faith in Jesus even have control? Isn’t it true that in giving my life to Jesus I have (in theory) surrendered control once and for all?

“You can have control or you can have growth but you can’t have both.” – Craig Groeschel

This quote hit me like a ton of bricks one day when I was struggling with the realization that after all these years of walking with Jesus I still battle Him for control. This particular day it was in regards to a battle I was facing. I hated it and wanted it gone. I demanded of God that He take it from me. I spoke over it that it had to be gone. I was, basically, throwing a control fit.

The Sunday after this fit, my pastor/husband preached a message in which he stated: “Some of you need to stop asking God WHY and start asking God WHAT – what is He doing in this storm and what is He trying to teach you?”

Side note: Anyone who is married to a pastor knows the truly irksome reality that is feeling convicted by one of your spouse’s own messages. In my head I bristle and think “Is he preaching this just for me?” But, of course, he is being led by God to lead our church family.

My husband’s words made a mark – I had been so bent on control and the WHY of it all that I hadn’t stopped to consider that maybe I should have been asking God WHAT He was doing in this storm and what I was meant to learn.

If ever a year made us feel out of control, 2020 was the one. Our health felt vulnerable, our routines felt vulnerable and our security as a whole felt vulnerable. Everything we normally could count on was suddenly unsure. Control? What control?

The beautiful news of Jesus is that when we accept Him as our Savior, we are invited to die to ourselves. While this may seem like a surrender, it is also an invitation to a life free of the stress of worry. When we need control and lose it, we worry or stress. If we are already surrendered to God, we don’t have to stress or strive because we know He is and always will be in control.

 I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

  • Galatians 2:20 NIV

“I no longer live” can’t really stand against the idea that I need control. How does someone who is no longer alive have control? Answer: they don’t.

When I feel out of control, could it be a reminder that I was never meant to be in control to begin with? I’ve found that I can avoid so much stress if I truly remembered to daily crucify my own need for control and recommit myself to God’s leadership.

Maybe you’ve struggled this season to make sense of an ever-increasing reality of instability – take heart! Living your life “out of control” will actually be the start of a new level of freedom! The deepest freedom can only be found when we decide to give up our right for control and take up our cross in its place!

-Lis Burns

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