This is not going to be a newsflash to anyone who knows me or who has read my blog on any type of consistent basis. I am a control freak. I have a very hard time sitting back and letting go. Instead I try to micro-manage, script, control, and dictate the way I think things should go. And may I just say that its not working out so great for me. I get so frustrated and discouraged with the fact that when I do try and control the outcome of things it doesn’t work. Things are going to happen the way they are supposed to happen according to God’s plan – he doesn’t need me to “help.” Secondly, my need to control things, situations, people, etc. hints to me (or screams at me) that my faith really isn’t where it should be or where I claim it to be…or want it to be. It’s so easy for me to tell a friend who is struggling that “everything will be ok…God is in control.” Shame on me for speaking it into someone else’s life when I barely allow it in my own. Truthfully, the last month or so has been extremely trying and difficult in my life. (Everything is relative – and even as I type “extremely” I know that there are others suffering much greater hardships than I). Brian and I have been married 6 months this week, and while we truly have an amazing, relationship built on God first, there have been challenges along the way. But it is only when I take things into my own hands – when I lean on MY own understanding – that I think things seem tough. One of our biggest challenges has been the blending of two families. Raising children is hard. Raising 5 children…hard. Raising 5 children – 4 of whom are teenagers…yep….hard. And throw in the fact that some are his and some are mine and the bar is raised even higher for difficulty level. And the thing about it is – we are blessed. We have really good kids who make good decisions and stay out of trouble,etc. Reflecting on the last month, I realize that things are toughest when I try and make things be the way I think they should be. In the last few days, I wasn’t sure how things would work out, where it would all end up, and how all of us would fare through it – but I WAS certain that all of it be ok – because we love God and he promises us that all things work together for good for those who love Him. I kept telling myself that over and over. Its in His hands. It will all be ok. Over and over – almost as if I was still trying to control the outcome. But I do believe in God and I know that He loves me. I do trust in His word. This morning, I went to church broken. I was at the point where I just had lost the energy to fight anymore. I was finally ready to turn it all over to God and truly ask Him to take it. (And all along God is waiting for me to get to this point. You would think after a while I would learn to make it easier on all of us and just give it all to him all the time.) At the end of the sermon, we stood and began to sing the following words…
“I lean not on my own understanding.
My life is in the hands of the maker of heaven.
I give my heart to you God
Trusting you will make
Something beautiful out of me”
At first, I couldn’t even bring myself to sing the words. They were a lie. I have been trying to do things my way – all on my own. Lately, my life has been in my own hands – not in the hands of the one who created it all. I have given God my heart, but my late actions have not shown a trust in God to make me into who he has planned. As the song went on and the words were repeated over and over I could feel the weight I’d been carrying around being gently lifted from me. As I began to sing the words, I truly was making a vow to lean NOT on my own understanding. If I earnestly believe that my life is in HIS hands, what am I so fearful of? Why am I worried? I’m always amazed at the way God works. He knows me so well. I am so moved my music and by lyrics. Today he chose that avenue to really speak to my heart. He knew I needed not only to hear the words of that song, but He knew I needed to let it all go and to sing the words from my heart to Him. Will this be my last blog about my inability to “let go and let God’? Probably not…I’m not perfect and never will be. And I’m sure my need to control will be something that I continually will have to ask God for help with. God knows my heart and he knows exactly how to speak to me. And right here and right now I am letting him carry the burden. I’m confident my life is in His hands and I do trust that He is making beauty out of my messes.
Life is hard. So many aspects of this existence are challenging. The day to day stuff of bills, stress at work, weeds, dishes, and laundry can all tend to weigh a person down. And then on top of all of the “little” stuff like that, there is the big stuff. Relationships, emotions, self-worth…the “Why am I here” sort of ideas that can overwhelm. It is a challenge to maintain sanity at times, much less a positive attitude and outlook.
As I sit here in the quiet if the morning, I have to be real honest with myself and face some of the messy, ugliness of life. And yet as I face it, I almost feel guilty. I feel bad for not being “stronger” of mind. I feel selfish for focusing on me and how I just don’t like some of the trials and the manner in which they inconvenience me. But if I’m going to be honest here (and really, what’s the point if I’m not) I’m really struggling with some of the “big” stuff. Some of the stuff for which I have no idea how to “solve.” But as I ponder and wrestle with them, even as I type, I already know the answer. God must be in it. God must be the source of my strength. I hear his gentle whisper…uttering the same words to me He has said often. “Let go. Let me take this from you.”
Do I really believe that He is in control? Or is that just something that sounds good when I have no solution? Am I truly convicted of the fact that there is NOTHING that my God can’t handle, fix, change, or resolve? Is it just a convenient tag line that I speak when I say “Where God guides, God provides,”?
If I really get honest, I DO trust and believe that God is in control. I do. And as I feel that comfort envelope me as I sit here this morning, I am relieved and peaceful. I don’t have to carry the burden. I don’t have to do all the heavy lifting. God’s got this. He will get me through the darkness and guide my way. I have to let him. I have to accept the reality that I may not ever know the why’s of certain situations…but that God is in the how and when. My role in all of it is to trust and obey. Trust that God is guiding, and obey when He directs me. Let him speak, and listen.
Two words….Trust and Obey. Wow. It’s really that simple…Trust and Obey.
Recently I heard the song “Ocean” by Hillsong United. There is a line in the bridge of this song that has resonated with me so deeply. It has been playing in my mind since I heard it. The words are “Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders…” It’s one of those lines that as a writer myself I wish I had written. The image conveyed by these words is so powerful and meaningful to me. But I think that’s really just one reason that the words have been with me for days.
I earnestly believe that God reveals things to us as He feels we are ready for them or as He sees that we need them. Most mornings, before I jump into my daily walk in the word, I pray and thank God for His blessings, and I ask for guidance and wisdom as I open His word. For the past several mornings I have found myself reading and studying in the Holy Spirit. I believe that I personally do not rely nearly enough on the Spirit in my every day life. I know what the Bible says about the Spirit in us, but in my day to day life I’m not sure that I allow it to work in me. But I continue to study and grow in that aspect of my Christian walk. I think that just the words “Spirit lead me…” really spoke to me. I can’t ask the Spirit to follow me…or tell the Spirit which way I would like things to go…or guide myself. It has to be “Spirit lead me.” That is God’s plan. His perfect plan. He sent us the Spirit to dwell in us. Somehow it’s very comforting to think that if I honestly allow that to happen in my life then I don’t have to be the one trying to find my way, because I have the Spirit to lead. We are told in Romans 5 that the Spirit will also fill our hearts with love. The Holy Spirit we are told will also help us in our weakness, and plead for us in accordance with God’s will. (Romans 8).the power of the Spirit is best exemplified in the following verse from Galatians. “…the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” What an amazing God we serve who loved us so much that He sent his son to die for us while we were still sinners…and then He blessed us with the Spirit to keep us In his care. I know that I have barely tapped into fully understanding what a gift the Holy Spirit is, but I do know that I will continue to study and learn and to follow the Spirit’s lead.
The second part of this beautiful phrase is probably my favorite but of figurative language ever. Trust is difficult for many of us. Very few people could honestly say that they trust anything or anyone completely, fully without reservation. But even if we did speak of that kind of trust, there is something about the image of “without borders”. Picture that…endless, infinite, open, ongoing, without borders. Nothing restraining or confining it. That is such a beautiful picture of what trust should be. I love the thought of trusting without borders when it comes to people.. Unfortunately there are very few people out there in our Iives that we could truly say that about. I am so blessed to have a husband in whom I can put that kind of trust. It is such a feeling of peace and contentment to trust without borders in the mate that God chose for me. And as much of a blessing that that is, trusting God without borders is even more of a blessing. God has a plan for my life and though sometimes I try to control it (okay…even obsess) I trust in His word and His plan for my life. He proves His love for us in endless ways every day of our lives. He gave us the Holy Spirit to guide us in each stage of His plan. Our part of the deal is that we allow ourselves to be led and that we trust in our God as He provides for us. But not with the kind of trust that we as mere humans are only capable of…but with the kind of trust that the Holy Spirit can instill in us. Trust without borders.
By the way, the rest of this song is beautiful in its language, imagery and message. I thank God for revealing those words to me in His timing, and I pray that I will keep them with me and allow them to remind me echo day that the God I serve loves me…without borders.