I think that many of us have bought into the lie that if everything happened the way I wanted, I would be happy. The thinking goes like this, “If my spouse or kids just did this then I would be happy.” Or here is another, “If I just had this kind of boss my job would be better.” This same attitude can surface in the church as “If the pastor did it this way (read my way) then things would be better.” These and other thoughts reflect our desire to be in control. Yet, what happens when we try to be in control we become miserable and others around us are miserable too. The Bible reminds us that there is a better way.
The simple reality is trying to control my life and the lives of others is incredibly tiring. Let me take that a step further, it is also overwhelmingly frustrating. God never intended for you to be in control; that is His job. Yet how often do we try to help “Him out” by pursuing our own agenda. My dramatic monologue as Samuel was on a passage (1 Samuel 19-21) that reveals Saul and David’s deteriorating relationship. The root cause was Saul’s repeated attempts at being god (small g) rather than serving God (big G).
We are reminded again and again in these chapters of Saul’s desire to control circumstances to produce the outcomes he desired. He went ahead and performed a sacrifice, against God’s instructions, when Samuel did not arrive according to Saul’s time schedule. He rashly forbade his soldiers during battle from eating when he commanded, “Cursed be the man who eats food until it is evening and I am avenged on my enemies.” Only to have his son unknowingly break his father’s vow. He tried to make the people happy and like him by bending what God asked him to do. His obsession of maintaining his position of power unnecessarily cost innocent lives and divided his family and made them his enemies. Bitterness replaced joy of the success of his troops. The more he tried to control the more miserable he became. I believe the same thing happens in our lives when we fail to realize that there is only one God and it is not you or me.
At the expense of sounding overly simplistic, the solution is simply to let God be God. It is hard to see God’s working but we need to embrace that He is always in control. There is nothing that is out of His control. He uses us but He does not need us. I get asked regularly if I get frustrated in working with people that say one thing and do another. Or those that just tell me what they think I want to hear? Early in my ministry it used to bother me until I realized that it is not my problem. I will sacrificially do everything possible to help people find Jesus and live for Him but I cannot do if for them. The secret to releasing control and finding joy is found when we focus on what the Lord has called us to be and do and leave the others to Him. I love what the Bible communicates on this in Romans 14:4, “Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. And he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand.”
It is incredibly freeing when we let God be God and take our place as his servants. The question is “Are you willing to let God be God in your life?
-Pastor Joe Parkinson