A Control Freak's Guide to Letting Go
I’ve never found a period of my life more uncomfortable than this.
In a mere matter of weeks, I will graduate from the university that has become my home, and be thrown haphazardly into the real-life that I know so little about. As of right now, I have no secure job, just a plethora of interviews, whilst my nearest and dearest are being dispatched all over the country to further education, jobs or the familiarity of home for some time to re-evaluate. Decisions need to be made, except making them with a few thousand possible variables running through your mind makes the process tiring to say the least. A worrier and a planner by nature, I now find myself up at 3am running through each scenario for all the possible outcomes, just so I’m not taken by surprise.
There’s a fairly apt quote by Woody Allen that keeps running through my mind: “If you want to make God laugh, tell him about your plans”.
Well this young woman is grappling at the straws of how little she now controls in some effort to formulate said plans, whilst God looks on, laughing. And I think I’m doing this all wrong.
God is in control
This frustrates me. I know it shouldn’t, but frankly, I’m a very good planner. My automatic response to God’s sovereignty is that if He didn’t want me to wrestle with control so much then He maybe should have dialled down the type-A aspect of my personality. But since that’s not about to happen, or maybe that’s exactly what this is, let’s take a look at what the Bible says about God being in control:
Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.
Our God is in heaven; he does whatever pleases him.
Sensing a theme? I know I am. My plans are just that, plans, but God’s will? Now that’s something else entirely.
God’s purpose will prevail and there is nothing I can do to stop that.
If God wants me to be in a certain city, you can bet I’ll somehow end up there. Whatever God desires to happen in my life, be that in relationships, work or location - there is nothing that is going to stop God’s will. If you want a better example of this, well just look at Jonah.
The prophet was ordered to go to evangelise to the Ninevites and help deliver God’s message of love. Not being a fan of the Ninevites, Jonah decided that someone else should deliver the message and off he went in completely the opposite direction.
That is until God put him in a fish and literally dragged him to Nineveh.
Now, metaphor or literal, God had His way. He had decided that Jonah was going to relay this message to save the people of Nineveh and that was that. No questions asked.
In spite of my incessant desire to create plans, I actually don’t doubt God’s sovereignty. After all, He is God and I’m fairly confident that He’ll get His way. No, where my inherent need to plan and worry comes from is a doubt of His character, a fear of His goodness.
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him”
Here, I begin to cringe a little inside. As some of you may know from my very first post on more precious, my mother has been critically ill since I was sixteen. To cut a long story short, I grew up a little naive, truly believing in the Happy Ever After of “God will give me everything I want”. The problem is that my Happy Ever After was one that was found on this earth, and not the eternal dream-come-true that God freely gave us. I still find myself bitter and angry that the past few years for my family have not turned out the way I wanted them to. I still crave an earthly happy ending and find it hard to be satisfied with the eternity I’m offered instead.
Simple evidence of my ignorant humanity if ever you needed one.
My struggle to reconcile these feelings with what I know about God is why I struggle so much to trust God’s goodness. I can’t help but look back and just scoff. Goodness? This hasn’t felt like goodness.
But then again, I’m blind. Jesus said so himself:
"You don't understand now what I am doing, but someday you will”
But what do I do when the someday is too ambiguous? Someday isn’t enough to send me to sleep softly at 3am. I need something more. I need more of Him.
Look back, sweet soul...
I’ve been making my way through Deuteronomy following the recommendation of my housemate, and I’m really loving it. Here, God is in full-on parent mode, fathering the Israelites as they make their trepidus and long-winded journey to the promised land. Along the way, they continue to express fear about entering this promised gift from God, doubting His faithfulness. During one of their little panics (sound familiar?), God reaches down to them and says:
“Do not be afraid. The Lord your God, who is going before you, will fight for you, as he did for you in Egypt, before your very eyes, and in the wilderness. There you saw how the Lord your God carried you, as a father carries his son, all the way you went until you reached this place”
And my soul hushes to a quiet. Finally.
God is already in September. That great abyss that I fear more than I could ever put into words? God’s there. He knows where I’m going to be, and He’s already gone ahead to prepare the way, to make secure my shelter.
He will fight for me, the same way He has fought to hold me and my family together over the past five years. That is how I learn to trust in Him. Not by looking forward into the misty haze of the future, but by looking back and seeing the good, oh so much good, that God has done in our lives in this difficult wilderness.
That is how the soul is stilled. By climbing into His arms of love and asking Him to reveal the small places He has moved in the deserts of fear. That is how we trust in a future that is unknown because we have a God who is always faithful.