“The fruit of that righteousness will be peace; its effect will be quietness and confidence forever."
- Isaiah 32:17
We have all heard of the term of someone being a "neat freak", where everything has to be spotless before they are able to relax, take a breath, and enjoy life. Well, there is also another type that wants everything nice and lined up, but often creates an even bigger mess of things. The classic "control freak" can rear its ugly head in so many ways. We like the feeling of being in control to such a dictator like degree, that when things are not to our liking, our expectation, or our plan we can feel completely anxious, irritated, and helpless. I remember on one summer youth trip driving from California to Colorado, that the other youth pastors teased me because I refused to use the "Cruise Control" feature in the van. They kept telling me how easy and great it was to not have to have your foot constantly on the pedal. Yet, whenever I tried it on this long trek I felt so out of control and uneasy. What should have made things more comfortable made me completely uptight.
As I was driving into church this past Sunday morning, I spent time in worship and prayer. During that time I felt the Holy Spirit nudge my heart and bring to my mind the word, CONTROL. There has been so much happening in these last few days: From the much anticipated joy of moving to the new church property to the painfully unexpected sickness of our daughter which has led to admittance to the hospital (please pray for complete healing for our precious princess), my head has been swirling, my emotions have been all over the map, and I feel like I am juggling batons lit on fire! As the Lord was speaking to me on Sunday morning, I knew immediately that He was asking me to surrender these "big deals" of my life and to trust in His perfect answer. This is not the first time the Lord has invited me to a place of rest and release from the burdens, as Jesus says in Matthew 11:28-30, "Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light." Although I know that I am to surrender, that the Lord has made similar offers in the past and worked mighty wonders in the places I have felt lost, stuck, or drowning, it is still challenging to relinquish control when we feel so much is on the line.
It was also on Sunday morning during the worship portion of the service that I heard this word from the Spirit of the Living God, "If you will START at My feet, you will STAND in My victory!" I think at an understanding level we know the importance of finding ourselves in the loving arms and radiant presence of our Lord. Psalm 91:1-2 proclaims, "Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, 'He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust." But again, at a practice level it is so difficult to surrender when so much in life feels undone. Each of can become a lot like Martha, who could not slow down to enjoy sitting at Jesus' feet, because there was still so much work to be done. It is hard to surrender, to rest, and to not pick up our imaginary brooms to do the clean-up work when: the bills are unpaid; the conflict is unresolved; the kids are unruly; the body is unhealthy; the house is undone; the work is unfinished; and the promise is unfulfilled.
Dear ones, our faith journey, life course, and God's pathway is a much longer distance then from California to Colorado. Let's be sure to take our foot off the pedal and engage the Lord's amazing feature of His Spirit truth and power that will lead us, protect us, and strengthen us. Why should we juggle the weights and fires of life in our hands, when the Lord's hand is reaching down and lifting us up? Let's be a people who come to the Lord and experience the eternal promise found in I Peter 5:6, "Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand, that He may lift you up in due time."