giving up control
"In fact, one of the most merciful things the Lord ever did to me was allow me to understand that all the control I thought I had was an illusion. As weird as this might sound to you, it was a warm blanket to my soul to finally one night just be lying in bed and go, "God, there's nothing I can do. I just trust you." Matt Chandler 'Sanctification: Examining Fear and Anxiety' 10/6/2013
The quote above is taken from Matt Chandler's talk about anxiety. I listened to this midway through my second year at University, when I'd been feeling massively anxious about work, my life and future, and had been in desperate need of a bit of guidance from God. When I heard Matt Chandler state this, after having just told the congregation about having been diagnosed with cancer, given only two or three years to live, it really stuck with me. However, at the time, I didn't fully understand it's meaning. The idea of it being 'merciful' for God to show me how little control I had over my future was not a concept I could grasp. Just turning to God and saying: 'Hey, I completely trust you, do what you want!' was certainly something I would have liked to have done, but not something I found easy at all.
In starting my year as a student Forgee at the Belfrey, God has brought so much to my attention. But the biggest thing that he has taught me is exactly the thing I heard Matt Chandler say almost two years ago. It is a mercy, and a real kindness, that God has shown me that, no matter what I do or how I act or what I change about myself, I still have very little control over my life. The reason this is has been such a merciful thing is that God has revealed to me that, alongside not having control, I have no reason to fear failure or carry the burden of responsibility for things that I do not have the power to prevent. Before, whenever I was disappointed in something in my life, my instinct was to try and fix it, or blame myself if I just couldn't do that. I constantly felt, deep down, that I was failing if something wasn't working, but the truth was, I couldn't have done anything to stop it. The control I thought I had was an illusion!
Throughout the Bible, God is constantly telling us that, no matter how much control we think we have, he always has ultimate control. Two verses from Proverbs illustrate this:
'Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.' Proverbs 19:21
'The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.' Proverbs 16:9
For me, freeing myself from the burden of needing to be in control began with total surrender to the Lord. Whenever I thought of something I really wanted to do or really wanted for my life, I felt God saying: 'Even that you must be willing to give up for me.' This has been far from easy, but it was a start to say to God: 'Please, give me the strength to do that.' This isn't to say that having dreams and hopes for the future isn't a great thing, God definitely gives us those. But I think we need to still remind ourselves that God always comes first. I have definitely been guilty of saying to God: 'I surrender everything to you...except that one thing!'
The complete surrender of everything in my life becomes easier when I can see the truth of who God is, and how there is nothing even comparable to that. With the surrender of my life to him, the need to control my life ceases.
'Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 25 For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.' Matthew 16:24,25
I have spent so much time attempting to save my life, by clutching onto it, afraid to lose any control. But by surrendering my life fully to God, all my rights and wants, I find a freedom in Christ that cannot be found anywhere else. For all of you students at University, I know what it's like to feel like the future is so uncertain. Some of you may find that exciting, but if you're anything like me, it can also be terrifying. I hope you can be blessed by what God has revealed to me. The truth is, during your University lives and onwards, very few things will go to plan, and many things you really want will not happen. However, please join me in embracing this fact. The Bible tells us:
'...we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.' Romans 8:28.
We believe in a God who knows far more than us and is working for our good. When I look back at times when things didn't work out the way I wanted them to, I thank the Lord that they didn't. Our imaginations for our lives are so limited compared to what God has planned for us. If we give up control, he will do '...immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine.' Ephesians 3:20.
Blog by Livvi Scales, Student Forgee.