When Control Isn’t An Option
I’m a planner by nature. I need a schedule, an agenda, and a to-do list in order to function effectively. Or normally, for that matter. I love order, neatness, and efficiency. Chaos isn’t part of my life vision, although as the mother of a three-year-old tornado, it’s often part of my daily existence.
But what happens when the future doesn’t fit into my neat little boxes? When there’s no bend in the road, but instead a stone wall blocking my view? I don’t know what next month looks like, and there’s absolutely nothing within my power to change that fact.
I know I should trust God, have faith, believe that He will “bear me up, lest I strike my foot against a stone.” (Matthew 4:6, personalization added) But I don’t even know what that kind of faith looks like, let alone how to go about doing it. My family looks to me for strength, but I’m drained and empty. I don’t have answers anymore, because the stock phrases I’ve heard all my life are empty and meaningless.
The one thing I still know, that I still cling to with both hands and clasp to my heart: God is good. All the time.
“Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!” (Matthew 7:9-11)
A wise man once told me, “God is your father. But He’s not necessarily like your earthly father.” He seeks my good at all times, always wants the best for us. My earthly father is a good man, but he is human. He cannot always be there for me, and he does not always take the wisest path. But my heavenly Father is always there when I call, and He always knows what is best.
He does not shy away from the hard paths, because often they are what my soul needs.
He is in that stone wall blocking my view, working out His purpose for my life. He is leading, sometimes in a cloud, sometimes clearly by day as a pillar of flame. Chaos is not discouraging to Him, although it clutters my human mind and makes my eyes blind to truth. Life is hard some days, and decisions are agonizing. Where to live? Where to work? Where to attend church? Who to trust? How to raise this strong-willed child of mine? Why do we believe what we do, spend our time this way, walk this way?
“Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass, which is alive in the field today, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith!” (Luke 12:27-28)
He does not turn away from me. He does not leave me in my misery, and He often reaches into my turmoil and tumbles me right side up, everything where it belonged all along if only I could have seen.
Because here’s the thing: I can’t control every circumstance and detail of my life. I absolutely would if I could, but that’s not my job. My job is to work out His purpose, allowing hardship to mold me into a better person. Knocking off rough edges, softening hard spots, making me a kinder and more considerate person. Learning flexibility and compassion, teaching me to see inside another’s soul.
Much as my daughter resists parental control in her life, I struggle against the Lord’s will, not seeing the kindness in His eyes and His desire for me to have the very best.
I cling to my safe and familiar, not wanting to open my heart to new paths and new ways, desiring my known quantity over the vastly superior unknown.
I long to trust, to live life fully and without fear, so I reach out cautiously. Scared to jump, but needing to try. Needing to know that He will catch me and never let me go. He already promised not to leave me to my own devices; it’s up to me to accept His life-giving words. (Hebrews 13:5)
So I plan, make my lists, schedules, and agendas—but cautiously, with my hands and heart open and tender. I still don’t know what next month looks like, but I am learning to trust, daring to lean on His strength. I stand in strength not my own, and freedom enters my soul as I jump into the unknown, knowing beyond a doubt He will catch me.
The Promised Dolly
I promised a dolly to my dear baby girl,
I pictured a doll most fair,
With exquisite features, and teeth of pure pearl,
Moving eyes! Walking limbs! And real hair!
We entered a shop and the dear little maid
Clasped a cheap tawdry doll to her breast;
To make the exchange I was really afraid,
Though I wanted to give her the best.
I took it away and the tears filled her eyes,
Till I gave her the one I had planned.
Then the dear little face glowed with joyous surprise
That a dolly existed so grand!
Oh, baby! I, too, am a child in God’s sight;
I choose the first things that I see.
I struggle to keep them! I don’t know quite
Why my Father should take them from me.
But when I look back through the wisdom of years
When my faith is age-old and sublime,
Perhaps I shall see through a rainbow of tears
That my Father planned best all the time.
-Author and source unknown