I like to think that my life is pretty well put together.
I’ve got a great community that I enjoy hanging out with. I don’t have any financial worries. I have the means for good health… and maybe a little bit of indulgence in between (I think I’ve had steak like every week since school started haha). I’m set on a path that will lead me to my dream career. I’ve got a supportive family that will listen to all of my complaints and struggles.
But what happens when one of these things is stripped away?
What happens when all of these things are stripped away?
What happens when I lose control of my seemingly perfect life, and everything is no longer going as I had planned?
As much as it all sucks, one thing is for sure: they can take away anything and everything, but they will never take away the relationship I have with Jesus Christ.
Yeah, yeah, you can call that a cliche line. Having been a Christian basically my whole life, that sounds simple enough, and it’s probably a simple truth that many of you are familiar with. But surprisingly, it’s been a recent thing I’ve learned to understand. What does it mean to have a relationship with Christ, and why should I give up control to Him? Let me break it down for you.
When my life is falling apart, I so desperately want things to go back to the way it was before. This leads to me thinking about all the things that I did wrong, and then I try to address it by changing myself or changing the situation. I try and I try, and yes, sometimes I can fix it. If I just study a little harder without all the distractions, I can definitely get that A. But sometimes, things don’t turn out the way I want it to. I’m not inherently a patient person, so I ask God to give me a spirit of patience, but my willpower eventually runs out, and then whether I want to or not, I ruin any progress I might’ve made. The irony.
On the other hand, there are times where I recognize an issue, but I put it off because I don’t feel like dealing with it at the moment. When things aren’t going well, I assume that it’s just a phase, and with time, things will pass and work itself out. Or maybe I’m just feeling really passive about the situation, so I assume that other people will work out my problems for me. And sometimes, even when I do feel led to leave control in God’s hands, I still have a lingering feeling of doubt because I’m afraid that God’s plan won’t align with my plan, and that I will be disappointed with the outcome.
So now that we’ve gone through Honesty Hour together, where do we go from here? It seems completely against human nature to just leave your fate in the hands of an entity you can’t see. How can we let go of our earthly desire to make life the way we want it and instead operate in the Spirit?
- Jesus is our example. “In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.” Philippians 2:5-7 Jesus came to the earth not as God, but as a man. He came to serve and fulfill his purpose according to God’s will. He endured the ultimate humiliation of the cross and thus is accorded the highest glory in the kingdom of God. The precedent for us has already been set through Jesus’ actions. If we are to move forward in our faith, we need to be like Jesus and empty ourselves of our own will and allow God to work in us.
- We trust that He has our best interest in mind. “But let him ask in faith, with no doubting” James 1:6 We must trust that God is indeed working in us as we're drawing nearer to Him. I know that’s hard to come to terms with when you’re starting out, and it will be frustrating. But one thing we need to understand as Christians is that our purpose is to glorify God. Sometimes, that can mean taking away good things in your life so that you can focus solely on Him. It could be that He doesn’t grant your requests immediately… or ever. In our eyes, it may seem that God has a twisted sense of humor in that we must suffer to glorify Him, but God uses our reactions to such situations to fulfill His purpose. Which brings me to the next point...
- Stop being so self-centered. “I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance on his holy people.” Ephesians 1:18 When we seek to control things, we panic when we lose that control. Worry sets in, fear eats away at us, stress, impatience, and a whole slew of other emotions begin to manifest. This stems from believing that God is not big enough to handle our problems. We are not trusting that His plan is better than our plan. We don’t think that He has our best interest in mind. We are too proud to submit ourselves before Him, and as a result, we do not have peace. BUT! When we root our identities in Christ, we begin to understand His heart for us. Our hope is in our inheritance of Christ as our savior. We begin to let go of our insecurities and trust that God is better. When things don’t go our way, we are not worried because that is not what defines us, and we know that in the end, God will be glorified.
Now why is it so hard?
It’s because we are inherently sinful. Even when we have Christ, we still suck because of sin. I am constantly going back to my old ways of fear because I can’t give everything up to God. It’s impossible! But you know what, that’s okay because it’s a lifelong process. Philippians 2:13 says, “for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose." I look back to where I was five years ago, and I praise God for His faithfulness. I have grown so much in my spiritual knowledge, wisdom, and discipline, and to think that I’ve come this far on my own is an understatement. Part of that growth comes from me submitting to God and responding in the way He intends us to. Paul writes to “let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ,” meaning that as Christians, we have a responsibility to act according to the commands of Jesus (Philippians 1:27). As we strive for the gospel, our focus becomes less about ourselves and more about making His glory known on earth.
So little by little, let God take control. Even when all seems lost, remember that He is good. The great power that created the world, rescued us from sin, and raised Jesus from the dead—that same power is also working in you.