Letting the Control Freak Go

Are we control freaks or do we completely and contentedly trust God?

Isn’t it good to know that Jesus trusted the Father in our stead? He was the one who was sorely troubled and yet left the garden and walked towards his accusers. He was the one who yelled out upon the cross, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit” (Luke 23:46). He trusted on behalf of his friends.

 

Must we be in control? Are we the sorts of individuals who must have a plan for everything? In order to be content, must everything work according to our plan? Do we demand even the Sovereign God to submit to our plan?

Must we have clarity? If and when God chooses not to operate according to our plan, must we completely understand what he is thinking and doing? In order for us to be joyful and content, must we have reasons for his deviation, and must we know his end-game?

Are we control freaks, or are we men and women who completely and contentedly trust God?

Brennan Manning, in his book entitled Ruthless Trust, writes these words:

The splendor of a human heart which trusts that it is loved gives God more pleasure than the Westminster Cathedral, the Sistine Chapel, Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, Van Gogh’s Sunflowers, the sight of ten thousand butterflies in flight, or the scent of a million orchids in bloom. Trust is our gift back to God, and he finds it so enchanting that Jesus died for love of it.

Trust is worship. It is honoring and glorifying to God to see his children resting in him, his affection, wisdom, and power. He doesn’t expect his children to be in control at all times, and he doesn’t expect his children to understand everything; they are not necessarily to see the end from the beginning. However, he does expect them to hear, believe, and trust in him, his affection, his wisdom, and power. Consider the stories throughout Scripture where God demands his people trust in him — times when they had neither control nor clarity:

  • Adam and Eve, in the Garden, were to trust God’s love, leadership, and law.
  • Adam and Eve, out of the Garden, were to trust God’s mercy, grace, and coming Son.
  • Noah was to trust God’s counsel (flood) and his covering (ark).
  • Abraham was to trust God for property, protection, and progeny.
  • Sarah was to trust God for a more faithful husband and a renewed womb.
  • Job was to trust God as hell was let loose on his family, possessions, body, and soul.
  • Joseph was to trust God in the pit, in Potiphar’s house, in prison, and in the palace.
  • Moses was to trust God as he marched into Egypt to rescue Israel.
  • Israel, following their salvation, was to trust God’s commands and precepts.
  • Israel, upon approaching the land of the giants, was to trust his methods and might.
  • David was to trust God even as he evaded Saul’s henchmen and slept in caves.
  • Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego, Mordecai, and Esther were to trust in God in exile.
  • Nehemiah and Ezra were to trust God in restoring the kingdom.
  • When Jesus came, Israel was called to trust the not so splendid looking man from Nazareth.
  • As Jesus walked, disciples were called to trust and follow him. He looked at his congregation and told them not to be anxious (Luke 12:6).  He looked at his men and issued forth this command, “Trust in God; trust also in me” (John 14:1).
  • After Jesus left, disciples were called to trust the Spirit and walk by faith.

All of these individuals were confused. They were all troubled. None of them were in control, and they all had little clarity. Yet each of them was called to worship and glorify God through walking by faith and not by sight. These worshipers were called to honor God by trusting him, his affection, wisdom, and power.

Most of them were successful in some measure for some time. Adam repented, Noah built and boarded, Abraham travelled, and Job yelled forth, “Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him.” Moses walked, David prayed, and the disciples obeyed. However, whether revealed in Scripture or not, none of them trusted God through and through. All had their moments of doubt and depression. All were sinful men and women who internally and/or externally distrusted God, his affection, his wisdom, and his power. They all dishonored God as they lost pretended-control and pretended-clarity.

How are we doing? Are we men and women who completely and contentedly trust God, or are we control freaks who are falling apart or throwing temper-tantrums when control and clarity go out the window? How are we handling our:

  • Horrible marriages
  • Broken bodies
  • Frustrating children
  • Dwindling finances
  • Depreciating loved ones
  • Morphing country
  • Declining churches
  • Deadbeat dads and materialistic moms
  • Unfaithful friends
  • Slow sanctification
  • Missed opportunities
  • Persistent loneliness
  • Special children
  • Missing skills

Are we worshiping well, for better or worse, with childlike trust?

Isn’t it good to know that Jesus trusted the Father in our stead? He was the one who was sorely troubled and yet left the garden and walked towards his accusers. He was the one who yelled out upon the cross, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit” (Luke 23:46). He trusted on behalf of his friends.

Isn’t it good to know that Jesus paid for our sins of distrust? Our lack of faith was placed upon his shoulders on the cross. Though we are control freaks, there is no condemnation left for us who are in Christ Jesus. He took the curse for our accursed faithlessness.

Isn’t it wonderful to know we have another opportunity to honor and glorify him today?

Let’s focus on him; we exist for his pleasure.

Let’s remind ourselves of his affection for us; we are the apple of his eye.

Let’s meditate on his wisdom; he knows what is best for his own glory, his own kingdom, and his precious loved ones.

Then let us remember his power; he holds the world in his hands and there is nothing that happens apart from his active or passive control.

Now it is time to ask the Holy Spirit (Comforter, Counselor) to assist us in having childlike faith. Such trust is best for God. He loves to see his children rest in him. Such trust is best for us. Trust keeps us from fear, anxiety, depression, anger, bitterness, compromise, and arrogance.

Joseph A. Franks IV is a minister in the Presbyterian Church in America and is Pastor of Palmetto Hills Presbyterian Church in Simpsonville, South Carolina.  This article first appeared on his blog, and is used with permission.