I don’t know what part of the world you live in, but right now in Maryland, it is FALL. If fall is not your favorite season, we need to have a talk. I’m serious. My windows are open and my house smells like pumpkin. I am convinced this is what Jesus has waiting for me in heaven.
By the time fall comes, I’m ready for a change. I’m ready for layers and absolutely prepared to stop sweating all the time from this dang humidity. I’m ready for the change of pace and some more routine.
The funny thing is though, anyone who’s closest to me would tell you: I publicly hate change. I’ve said it my whole life. It takes me so long to adjust to new ideas. In fact, my husband will often call me with new plans for ministry and I’ve told him to just text me first because my reaction is almost always, “no.” My gut reaction to doing stuff a new way is defensive. I’m not proud of it; it just is. If you want to know too much, the first thing I was diagnosed with in therapy was an adjustment disorder. Soooo it’s kind of official.
But as fall is making itself known; I realized the truth about myself, and I’d be willing to bet it’s true about you, too. It hit me as I decorated my house with pumpkin candles and little wooden signs. The truth is, we’re fine with change. In fact, we need it and we crave it. As long as it’s a change we can control or at least predict. Seasons change four times a year. We know this is coming. Whether we love it or hate it, it’s the fact of most of the states in this country. Inevitably, we age. Bummer. Our kids grow up daily. We may have no idea what we’re doing but at least we kind of knew it was part of the “living life” package.
The changes that cause us to misplace our peace and our stability are the ones we didn’t expect and we have no control over. Illness. Emergencies. Job losses. Relationships that we didn’t intend on shifting. Grief and loss. Pain.
If we’re honest with ourselves, the issue most likely isn’t that it’s something new or different. We just don’t hold the control.
And if we’re even more honest, these are the seasons that shape us, aren’t they? They define us one way or the other. But we have choices as to where our identity will take root. Our first choice is to dig our heels into what used to be and grip onto a false sense of stability until our hands are ready to fall off; and we will be shaped. We will be shaped into anxiety and fear-ridden people who are believing the lies that control brings. The lies that control brings us peace and security. Really, the lie that we have any control at all.
Our second choice is more simple but somehow way more difficult. It’s letting go. It’s believing the truth about control: that the One who truly holds it is also holding you. That nothing in your life moves without an Almighty God’s approval and perfectly thought-through planning. It’s trust. It’s surrender. It’s submission.
The other lie that control tricks us into believing is that God is the control freak. Oh man, and it’s just so untrue.
He’s given us so much more than we recognize, even if it doesn’t always feel that way. We can take control over the parts of our lives that God gave to us. We get to control our thoughts, our attitudes, our words. We get to control how we respond and how we love others. We have the say in where we put our energy and how we spend our time. And believe it or not, we get to decide how close we are with God. Since He is perfect and stays seated on His throne, He’s not moving or shifting. We are. We get the control over our distance or our proximity to our Savior. Call me crazy, but that doesn’t sound like a controlling God to me.
So what do we do? Since everything’s changing around us constantly and we can’t stop it, we let it happen. And we take authority over the power that’s been given to us. We are not victims in our own lives. We have a say.
We don’t get to control who our children turn out to be, but we get to decide how we love them.
We don’t get to control how others feel about us, but we get to decide how we react.
We don’t get to control God’s perfect will, but we get to decide how much we’ll trust Him as He carries it out.
We need the change. Whether you consider yourself a control freak who orders the same exact coffee every day, or you thrive on spontaneity, no one wants to stand still while life moves on. So don’t believe the lies of control that you either get all the say or none at all.
Let’s see where God wants to take us. It’s a crazy balance of complete trust and intentional discipline. Whatever is changing around you without your approval, your God’s hand is carefully writing your story. He’s got a really good one for you. And what a thrilling honor to get to say “yes” or “no”. Like it or not, the choice is yours.
“A man’s mind plans his way [as he journeys through life], but the Lord directs his steps and establishes them.” [Proverbs 16:9]