Yours is the mighty power and glory and victory and majesty. Everything in the heavens and earth is yours, O Lord, and this is your kingdom. We adore you as being in control of everything. 1 Chronicles 29:11 TLB
Recently, I went out on a limb and revealed something personal on Facebook. Don’t worry. It was nothing dramatic or that could be labeled TMI. But by sharing the information, I would be acknowledging to the world–and to myself that I didn’t know everything. I wasn’t sure how a confession like that would be perceived but I “courageously” posted it anyway.
I was amazed at the response I received! Surprisingly, others out in Facebook land admitted that they also did not know this about Brussels sprouts and I was able to help others through my vulnerability! 🙂
Today, I feel that same hesitancy but I’m hoping what I share will also be helpful to others. I am going out on a limb again to reveal something else I just learned–something far more earth-shaking than the growth process of Brussels sprouts (and their correct spelling), which is—WE CANNOT CONTROL EVERYTHING. Many reading this may be thinking this is common knowledge–just like knowing Brussels sprouts grow on stalks but some of us are “arriving a little late to the party.”
Not long ago I missed one of the sessions of our Church Ladies Bible Study and went back alone to view the video that I missed. One part of the video was particularly stirring to me as it dealt with a problem the Lord had already exposed last year in my life–Control Issues. (See The Day I Went To The Grocery Store And Came Home A Control Freak.) The video session was from Beth Moore’s study, Children of the Day. Beth asked everyone in her studio audience and those viewing the video to repeat the following declaration after her . (If you also struggle with control issues, you might find it helpful to read it out loud.)
I am not in control.
I cannot control all my people.
I cannot control my situations even when I want what is best.
I cannot make people behave.
I cannot make people believe.
I cannot make people be strong.
I am not God.
He alone knows how things will turn out.
I fire myself.
I see my control for what it is–a screaming testament to my distrust. (emphasis mine)
(Note: I wrote this declaration in my notes as best I could and it may not be exactly the same as on the video.)
After speaking this declaration, it was as though I was at DEFCON Level 4 when I wrote my little “Grocery Store” post last year and now I was at DEFCON 1, the highest level of warning from the Holy Spirit!
My control issues were now a “SCREAMING testament to my DISTRUST”! Soon after I received this reproof from the Lord, but before I could even process it, I was hit with one of the most difficult weeks of my life and there was NOTHING I could do about it. Things I thought I had “controlled” through prayer had now occurred and they were contrary to what I had prayed. First there was questioning God, then despair and fear, then shame–I have been a Christian most of my life and written so many posts on Faith, Hope and encouragement!
Struggling, I went t0 The Word and was uplifted by these and other verses:
Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before him; God is a refuge for us. (Psalm 62:8)
Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. (Prov. 3:5-6)
Trust in the LORD forever, for the LORD GOD is an everlasting rock. (Isaiah 26:4)
I’ve told you all this so that trusting me, you will be unshakable and assured, deeply at peace. In this godless world you will continue to experience difficulties. But take heart! I’ve conquered the world. (John 16:33 MSG)
Manning was inspired to write Ruthless Trust after a mentor remarked to him, “Brennan, you don’t need any more insights into the faith. You’ve got enough insights to last you three hundred years. The most urgent need in your life is to trust what you have received.” This challenge to steadfastly trust God saturates his book. He writes
Unwavering trust is a rare and precious thing because it often demands a degree of courage that borders on the heroic. When the shadow of Jesus’ cross falls across our lives in the form of failure, rejection, abandonment, betrayal, unemployment, loneliness, depression, the loss of a loved one; when we are deaf to everything but the shriek of our own pain; when the world around us suddenly seems a hostile menacing place—at those times we may cry out in anguish, “How could a loving God permit this to happen?” At such moments the seeds of distrust are sown. It requires heroic courage to trust in the love of God no matter what happens to us.
I now see that we can believe in God, we can love God and we can still fail to completely trust Him. For some of us, this becomes evident when we encounter something we cannot control. Doubt, fear and despair mount and the only choices we have are to burn our Bibles and turn our back against God OR get “out of” control–rather “out of” thinking we are in control, let go, surrender and put our trust in God. Manning puts it so much more eloquently:
Often trust begins on the far side of despair. When all human resources are exhausted, when the craving for reassurances is stifled, when we forgo control, when we cease trying to manipulate God and demystify Mystery, then—at our wits’ end—trust happens within us, and the untainted cry, “Abba, into your hands I commend my spirit,” surges from the heart.
Unwavering trust does not mean we will not be hurt. We CAN walk simultaneously in brokenness and trust. The life of Job illustrates this. “Even though He slay me, yet will I trust Him.” (Job 13:15 KJV) When we are faced with life’s unrelenting disappointments, with God’s grace we can walk in peace. I have been inspired by these lyrics from Sara Grove’s song, What I Thought I Wanted
…I passed understanding a long, long time ago
And the simple home of systems and answers we all know
What I thought I wanted, what I got instead
Leaves me broken and somehow peaceful
I keep wanting you to be fair
But that’s not what you said
I want certain answers to these prayers
But that’s not what you said
When I get to heaven I’m gonna go find Job
I want to ask a few hard questions,
I want to know what he knows
About what it is he wanted and what he got instead
How to be broken and faithful
I close with one of my favorite quotes, which also happens to be from Manning. “To be grateful for an unanswered prayer, to give thanks in a state of interior desolation, to trust in the love of God in the face of the marvels, cruel circumstances, obscenities, and commonplaces of life is to whisper a doxology in darkness.”
Dear Lord, we cannot believe in you or love you without the working of The Holy Spirit. Likewise, we need your grace to be able to trust you without wavering. Please forgive us for all the times our first response to trouble has been to try to control the situation. Help us in our darkest moments to look to you and to know not just in our minds but also in our hearts that you can be trusted with everything that is most dear to us. Help us to really know your perfect love that dispels all fear.(1 John 4:18 TLB) LH
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