Thoughts from a Control Freak

Good morning from Westminster, MD!

Hi, my name is James, and I am a control freak. It is not so much that I need to be in control of every moment of my life but rather that I need to be in control of the outcomes. How about you? Do you ever find yourself trying to will an outcome into existence? Controlling outcomes sounds great except for one tiny problem–it’s impossible.

For example, have you ever grown a garden? I have. You can carefully prepare the soil, plant the seeds or plants just perfectly, water them regularly, and keep the weeds under control, but you cannot will the tomatoes into existence. No matter how hard you try, the outcome is not in your control. No matter how much you want it, all you can do is wait and see if those little red tomatoes emerge. More than once, I can remember doing everything “right” only to see my vegetable plant inexplicably wilt away.

Where does this leave us self-professed control freaks? As I have wrestled with my desire to control something uncontrollable it has led me to one place–surrender. Not the “sit on the couch and hope for the best” kind of surrender but rather the “understanding my role” kind of surrender. In other words, I have my part and God has his part.

My part is to put myself in a position to be successful. It is the tilling, planting, and watering part of the vegetable gardening process. It might mean making a step in a certain direction. It might mean making a phone call. It might mean spending the extra time to make sure something is the best it can be. Surrendering in this case does not mean deciding it is just not meant to be. Instead, it means finding peace in the reality that you did all you could do to make it happen.

God’s part is to make it grow. Once you have put the plant in the ground and given it the best care possible, the amount of fruit that is produced is in God’s hands. This sounds great in theory, but is hard in practice. However, does my struggle with it make it any less true? No, of course not. No matter how much I want to control outcomes, the truth is still the truth. Coming to terms with this reality is hard, but it is made easier by my understanding of who it is I am trusting with the outcomes.

Easter provides us with a beautiful picture of why we can trust the God who created us. In Paul’s letter to the church in Rome he wrote, “You see, at just the write time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:6-8) If God loves me enough to send Jesus to die for me, why wouldn’t I be able to trust him with the outcomes in my life?

My prayer this Easter is to live fully into this surrendered life. I hope you will join me on this journey!

James Belt

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