Thursday, April 08, 2010

A Good Kind of Control

As a Christian, I know that dependence on God in all things is good for me. Whenever I get to the point where I feel as if I have to make my life happen, I'm one step away from bondage. I'm learning that taking control of one's life is in direct opposition to the Gospel. The goal is to give up control, to become completely dependent on the only One who can truly meet my needs. I love the way Eugene Petersen paraphrases Jesus' words in Matthew 11:28-30:
"Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you'll recover your life. I'll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won't lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you'll learn to live freely and lightly."
Having said that, I've been giving a lot of thought recently to the good and healthy kind of control that comes as a result of this. As I said a couple of days ago, I have been in a great place of rest the last few weeks, and the outcome has been great productivity. The principle once again is this: It's only after we've rested in God that we can work with God in the way He intended. And the amazing thing is that within this place of rest we actually have more control than we've ever had before.

Here's the irony. We think we have two options. Either we're in control or God is in control. But that's not completely accurate. When we think we're mastering something, we so often discover that we are actually the ones being mastered. Let's use money as an example. The cycle goes like this: (1) We work in order to make money so that we can pay our bills; (2) As is so often the case, either not enough money comes in, or the bills are higher than expected; (3) We worry. We freak out. Sound familiar? And here's how it's related to our time: (1) We work long hours to make more money; (2) We don't have time for those closest to us; (3) We're stressed out all the time; (4) We use money to buy things for those closest to us to make up for not spending time with this.

But here's the flip side. Rest and dependence leads to freedom, and freedom is not overrated! Freedom leads to a healthy sense of control. In this place of freedom we realize that we can make decisions. Some of those decisions lead to more freedom, while some lead to more bondage. In that place of freedom we are no longer being controlled by things.

You and I were never meant to bear the responsibility of running our lives, of making our lives happen. When we truly begin to believe this, we experience great freedom in seeing our lives lived out as they were meant to.

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