Wheat head close up at Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

Humility and control

I am a control freak. I like to know what’s coming. I like to plan out my steps before I take them. There are times when I don’t mind spontaneity, but generally speaking I like to have a plan. But there’s only so much a plan can do for me when I’m not in control.

Have you ever been in that situation? Where you do everything right and the world still goes wrong? Where you have been obedient and done what you were supposed to do and even then, the circumstances only get worse instead of better? Have you ever been there? I have. And it’s frustrating. Because all throughout the Bible, God says to do what He says and that He’ll take care of us. But then when we do, sometimes it feels like He doesn’t hold up His end of the bargain.

Wheat head close up at Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

Wheat head close up at Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

Today’s verses are 2 Chronicles 6:38-39.

If they turn to you with their whole heart and soul in the land of their captivity and pray toward the land you gave to their ancestors—toward this city you have chosen, and toward this Temple I have built to honor your name—then hear their prayers and their petitions from heaven where you live, and uphold their cause. Forgive your people who have sinned against you.

I usually hear this verse around election time. There is something encouraging about the thought of the believers of America uniting under a common cause and turning back to God. But it’s a dream. I haven’t ever seen it in my lifetime. As far as I can see,typical  American Christians are just as self-centered as the rest of the world, so getting them to agree on anything is practically impossible. But as I read this verse today, something else occurred to me that I hadn’t ever really thought of before.

If we want God to work in our lives, if we want Him to show up, we have to change our attitude. Or, rather, we have to be willing to let Him change our attitudes. Real change is something only He can do, but our attitude is up to us. Attitude is a choice that we make every morning when we roll out of bed.

As I stated before, and in many previous blog posts, I am a control freak. I don’t know why or how I got to be this way. I just like to be in charge of what’s happening around me because I feel like I can keep track of the details better than anybody else can. But there are parts of my life (major parts) that are too big for me. And I need to admit that, not only to God but also to myself. I need to stop trying to control everything, because some situations are above my pay grade. And it’s those situations and circumstances that I need to be humble about and ask God for help with.

So it all comes down to attitude. I need to be humble about my life and realize that I’m not in control. God is going to do what He wants with my life. He made it, just like He made everything else, so He has the right to do what He wants with it. But it’s my choice how I respond to it; I can either go willingly or kicking and screaming. God will have His way no matter how I choose to respond.

I get frustrated when I do everything I’m supposed to do and life still doesn’t work out, but when it comes right down to it, God is in control of my life. And if He needs to allow more difficulty into my life to remind me that He’s the one who calls the shots, so be it. In the end, He’s going to have His way no matter what, and His way is going to be good. His way is better than my way ever can be. And He’s proven that to me over and over and over again.

If we turn our hearts to God, if we change our attitudes about God and recognize that He is the one who’s in charge, and if we ask Him for help and realize that we can’t make it through life without Him, He’ll hear us. He sees us and moves in our lives anyway, whether we ask Him to or not. But when we change our attitudes, we start looking for Him. And then we can see Him.

So check your attitude this morning. Are you trying to control your life? Are you trying to be the one in charge? You can try it, but the more you try to control your life, the more of your life will slip through your fingers. Change your attitude; be willing to let God change your heart. It will make all the difference in the world.

Worrying about life at 88 miles per hour

The future is easy to worry about because we have no control over it. Even if we think we have control, we don’t really. We can convince ourselves that we can alter it with hard work or good opportunities, but no matter how you look at it, you can’t control every aspect. 

Wooden bridge at Glen Eyrie

Wooden bridge at Glen Eyrie - Colorado Springs, CO

I have always loved the Back to the Future movies. Marty McFly and Doc Brown and the legendary DeLorean are tons of fun. I love the whole trilogy, and I love how the things they do in the first movie negatively affect the world in the second and third movies. And when they try to fix what they did wrong, they make it worse.

But whether you think of the future like the one immortalized in the Back to the Future movies or if you think of it more like a winding path up the side of a mountain that you can’t see the end of, one thing is certain: it’s not something we’re supposed to meddle with.

And that makes us worry about it.

At their heart and soul, people are control freaks. Some people are worse than others, but I’ve never met another human being who didn’t want some kind of control over his or her life, no matter how much they might have denied it. And I don’t know why that is.

I’m speaking from experience because I’m the worst control freak you’ll meet. I want to know everything. I want to know who is doing what. I want to know who is going where. I want to know what is happening today, tomorrow, next week, next month. Shoot, when I found out how much vacation I was going to have in 2012, I wanted to sit down and plan out every day off in 2012 for the whole year.

Don’t get me wrong. Planning is good. It’s a good idea to have a contingency. It’s a good idea to be prepared. But we also need to be flexible. We need to realize that there’s a bigger story going on around us and sometimes our plans need to change because of it.

Today’s passage is John 14:1-3 and it’s Jesus talking:

“Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me. 2 There is more than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? 3 When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am.

I can only imagine how tired Jesus had to get of telling the disciples to trust him, to not worry. I guess I shouldn’t pick on the disciples because Jesus does that to me all the time too.  Jesus said this to the disciples at the Last Supper, the last meal He ate with them before He went to the cross. The disciples were all upset and worried because Jesus had told them that He was leaving. The disciples, of course, worried about the future. Because they couldn’t see God (they thought). And they couldn’t understand Jesus (because they weren’t listening). And they wanted things to happen the way they wanted it to happen (sound familiar?).

I’m so much like the disciples all the time it astounds me. I share bits and pieces of their flaws, from the doubt to the impulsiveness to the skepticism.

The issue here comes down to trust.

I trust my ability to drive. So I drive over 100 miles a day.

I trust my ability to cook. So I eat the food I make.

I trust my ability to write. So I blog and write short stories and novels and articles about plumbing installations.

I trust. So I act.

So do I trust Jesus? Do I trust that He is who He said? Do I trust that He’s going to do what He promised?

So if I trust Him — if I really honestly trust Him — I need to act on that trust. I need to live by that trust. I need to demonstrate in my actions and in my thoughts and in my life that I really believe the things that Jesus has said. And that means not worrying about the future.

Jesus said He has the future worked out. He’s preparing a place for us and one day He’s going to come back and get us. I trust that. So I’m happy to stick around here doing what I can until He comes back. But I also trust that He hasn’t left me here with nothing to do, because He also told me He has a reason for everything He does.