Have you ever been jokingly, or not so jokingly labeled a “control freak” by family, friends, or even secretly by your own self? I have, by all the above! Maybe it is my compulsion to always be the driver when friends and I go to outings (after all, being punctual in both arrival and departure are key to staying on schedule). Or maybe it is my insistence in holding all the family parties, celebrations, and picnics and opting to leave the “bring a covered dish” alternative to others (there is sweet comfort I experience in knowing who is on the guest list, the food that will be served, and the time frame in which the event takes place). Yes, I have “control issues”!
Let’s be honest though, many women have a take charge disposition that flows from a heart that simply wants everything to be “perfect”, along with the mistaken notion that we are the ones who can make that happen. Control and deception; two “biggies” that the Bible tells us women are prone to (cf. Gen.3:13,16b).
I spent years falsely thinking I had control over many matters in which God has patiently and graciously taught me I had none, such as when my only sibling, a sister was diagnosis with a very aggressive cancer at the age of 32. At the time of her diagnosis she was a vibrant athlete running marathons and working as an audiologist at a prestigious hospital. Only a month prior to “the news” she had been accepted into medical school with great aspirations of becoming a doctor. Life sure can change with one phone call. I wondered with the rest of my family, why was this happening? How could this happen to her, a picture of health and right living? At the heart of our questioning was, where was God and why wasn’t he fixing all of this? We prayed and hoped, yet only to find her health deteriorating. My heart broke not only to watch my big sister (she was two years older than me) become weaker and weaker, but as I watched our dad cry over her bedside voicing his sense of helplessness. She lived a little over one year from diagnosis.
I did not understand why my sister had to go through all the painful things that she did at the time it happened, and 18 years later still do not. I do know however, that none of us could control the outcome but that the One who could was and is there for us. I had the choice to seek God’s comfort or falsely blame God, becoming angry and bitter. Thankfully, I chose the latter, and the Prince of Peace surrounded me. “And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Phil.4:7 KJV) became very real to me. I learned what a Refuge the Lord truly is (Ps.46:1-2) and the gift we receive as we hand everything over to God’s care and control (I Pet.5:7). He after all, knows best. His thoughts are not like ours (Isa.55:8) and we only see a portion of what is going on.
I also was confronted with my inability to control things when our precious son was in an automobile accident a week before high school graduation. In the thick of the night fog, our son missed a curve and hit a tree head on. As his father, grandfather, and I sat in the emergency room, we were in disbelief as the doctor told us Dillon had a broken neck. It was the worst type of break, the C1-C2 vertebrae otherwise known as “the hangman’s break” (named after the old days when public hangings took place for condemned criminals. The break would occur in the neck at this spot which ended the life of the convicted). The miraculous news however was that our son was alive and had no paralysis. God be praised!
I can remember as I heard the fire whistle going out into the dark of the night searching for my son before the call even came (I cannot explain it, but God let me know it was my son that emergency whistle was for). How I prayed so fervently, over and over for our son to be alive. I felt the utter frustration of my own helplessness in those early hours. In the moments and what led into months ahead I learned however, to lean on and fully trust in God. I became an instant “care nurse” and felt so inadequate at the things I needed to do. I became fearful at even leaving our son in the house alone. “What if he’d fall or needed something and couldn’t get to it in a timely manner?” There were days I felt suffocated with my concerns. I finally came to a place of “giving up” my own efforts to control every aspect of Dillon’s healing and my ability to care adequately for him, and gave it all over to God. What relief! The Lord truly is my Rock, Fortress, and Deliverer (Ps.31:3; cf.Ps.20:7). And by the way, our son made it to graduation! In a wheelchair and halo/vest medical apparatus, which temporarily kept his spine stable, he received a standing ovation as he slowly stood up and carefully walked across the floor to get his diploma!
These two dramatic events had two very different outcomes. Prayers went up for both and seeking of the Lord in many ways, yet in one case the worst case scenario came to pass and In the other, the best came about. What does one surmise about God when this happens? The Bible says in Malachi 4:6, “For I am the Lord, I change not…” (KJV). In other words, unlike you and I who often change our minds, break our promises, and have ever rising and falling emotions that can resemble the unpredictable winds of a tornado, God never changes. He is always good, always keeps his promises, always loves and is looking out for us as his children.
The Bible also says in Psalm 34:8, “O taste and see that the Lord is good:…”( KJV). We can be certain that our circumstances, doubts, and fears never diminish God’s goodness. Because I did not want my sister to die and could not understand why God had allowed her to anyway did not mean he was not a good God. The rest of Psalm 34:8 reads “…blessed is the man that trusteth in him”. That is the simple and profound truth that sets people free; trust!
The point is, God does not change, he is good, and we can trust him with every situation, every concern, big or small. He was just as present and in control in my sister’s hospice room as he was at my son’s successful operation room and following recovery. If I would have kept my eyes focused on him and his power and his goodness, I could have saved myself from so much needless worry and anxiety.
God has challenged me through many changing and sometimes very trying events and circumstances through the years to trust him. I am learning still, as God gives me reminders now and then when he sees me slipping back into “control-mode”, that he knows all and knows best. When I commit each day to him, spend time in prayer, read the Word faithfully, and obey he gently leads me and guess what? My need for control diminishes, in fact I find myself relieved to hand the control over to my God.
I do not depend on a “crystal ball” to tell me the future nor do I have all the answers to the questions that sometimes surface in my thoughts with pressing anxiety. I do however, have the Sovereign of the universe, the great I Am living within me and he has all control (cf. Ps.121; Matt.10:29-31; Rom.8:28)! When I seek him, he is there (cf. Deut.4:29-31) and that is enough! What about you?
Beloved, are you tied in knots, weighed down and frustrated about things or people you cannot change or control? Ask yourself, “Who is in control anyway?” If you are in a relationship with God through Jesus Christ his only Son (cf.John 14:6) then submit to his Lordship, giving him total control and find yourself at peace.
Ok, I still may have a few “control freak” tendencies (the driving, the hosting parties, and maybe a few others) but I cut myself a break after all, I have come a long way and God’s still working on me. Amen!
By: Christine M. Morrison