BY CLINT LOVEALL - SPIRIT LAKE FIRST PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life … Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?” Matthew 6:25a, 27
I recently had someone tell me, "I just need to give up control and let God be in charge."
I’ve heard similar things expressed by others in the past and, while it's a nice sentiment, it never seems very realistic. What I mean is, almost none of us actually have any real control over life in the first place. We can control our attitude to some extent, our effort as well, and occasionally we get to make some of life's big choices but, overall, most of life is out of our hands in my experience.
So when someone says they need to give up control, especially during a time they have little control anyway, I think they usually mean that they need to give up the desire for control, or maybe even the illusion of control, and those, indeed, are hard dragons to slay. We want control. We love the idea that we are in charge of what happens to us and we are afraid whenever we confront the fact that we aren’t. We worry over things we can't change, and we feel anxiety about the reality that most things are beyond our power to dictate or direct.
It's encouraging to me that one of the invitations Jesus most clearly gives is the invitation to a worry-free life. Hear me out, I’m not suggesting Jesus invites us to a trouble-free life, only a worry-free one. Jesus instructs us to let go of those many things we cannot control and the anxiety that goes with admitting that we can’t control them. Jesus points out that our worries cannot add a single hour to our life, but more importantly, points us toward peace by giving up our worries and desire for control altogether.
The simple truth is that most of us don't control most of what happens to us. A whole lot of our life is out of our hands. However, the great news Jesus offers is that our life is in God's hands, and God can be trusted completely. Instead of anxiety and worry, we are offered faith. We are invited to let go of the futile desire to be in control and the foolish idea that we can be. The fact is, God is already in charge (and we are already not in charge) whether we acknowledge it or not.
Letting go of our illusions is difficult work, but maintaining them is exhausting and dangerous. Accepting that we don’t really have control is frightening, but it's also freeing. It allows us to trust God instead of self, and to release our worries to the only One who can truly give us peace. Try it, you won’t be disappointed. Give up on control, and give yourself to God instead.