Posts Tagged ‘Control’

I love to know what is next … how the movie or book ends, what is planned for tomorrow, where our next vacation will be, what renovation we will do next on our home. I am into certainty. I plan our meals for a couple of weeks in advance, I countdown to holidays, I scour home stores for ideas to duplicate in our home (I rarely have any time to actually do them), and I sometimes read the last page of the novel before starting it (although I always find it is pointless, because it never seems to tell me anything anyway).

Life, though, is not full of certainty, but uncertainty.

There are hiccups to plans, there are changes in schedules, there are twists in the road, and there are surprises around every corner. The only thing I am truly certain of is that nothing in life is for certain.

I learned this a few years back, on our anniversary. As the days grew closer, our daughters were talking up ‘the gift’ hubby had gotten for me. There is nothing worse for adding pressure, than your kids excitedly telling you that you will love what their dad got for you! I mean, this meant that how I responded could disappoint not only hubby, but our kids too.

I knew that I had to plan my response. And so I went into constant rehearsals … in the van, in my backyard, in the kitchen, in the mirror … everywhere I went for a week I was practicing my response. By our anniversary I was a well-oiled machine (with a rumbly in my tumbly, from the anxiety).

When ‘it’ arrived at the house, I was sequestered to our daughters room, until ‘it’ and our family were all in place. Then I was beckoned to the living room, where they were all excitedly awaiting (and I was hoping I would faint before I got there, and had to act out my response). And there ‘it’ was … I was shocked, I was excited, I was unable to act … I was naturally thrilled! Hubby had taken an old chair that I had paid a dollar for at a junkyard (over twenty years ago), to be refinished and reupholstered. It was beautifully redeemed, and I loved it.

Now that is the kind of uncertainty I can handle!

I was recently in church singing along, and an example of certainty hit me in the face, and caused tears to flow from my eyes.

“No power of hell, no scheme of man,
Can ever pluck me from His hand;
Till He returns or calls me home,
Here in the power of Christ I’ll stand.”

As I read and sang those words … no power of hell, no scheme of man … that means nothing on earth, or beyond the earth … nothing, can ever separate me from Christ. There is nothing that any man or woman can do to me, there is no demonic pressure that can sever the tie that exists between my redeemer and me. There is nothing that even I can do to break that tie.

This is certainty! And this is what I hold on to till He returns, or calls me home.

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I have many memories of spending hours and days in preparation for a long distance trip, by car or plane. Then, just minutes after leaving our home one of our children would cry from from the backseats, “are we there yet?”

It is the most familiar cry of family road trips. It is acceptable, and even humorous to us, because it comes out of the lack of awareness and experience of a child’s understanding of place and time. If our twenty-something year old were to ask that same question, in the same context, it would not be as acceptable or humorous.

That is how it is with how we deem something to be an age-appropriate response or action. We consider the maturity level of the person.

A burp or toot from an infant is ‘cute’ but anything similar from your hubby is inappropriate and distasteful.

We watch our toddler race toy trains, planes and automobiles, encouraging them to ‘go faster’, but a new teenage driver who participates in street racing is ridiculous, and should lose their license.

These are the double standards of moving forward, of maturing, of growing up.

Are we there yet?

It is also our innate, human cry. Our bodies cry it from our first breath, until our final exhale.

We spend most of our lives trying to identify, trying to find ‘there’. We are like the child in the back seat, too young, too immature to understand distance or time. We just know that we are going, and we want to be ‘there’ so that we can discover what it is.

‘There’ is like a present, placed under the Christmas tree too many days before the due date to unwrap it. It sits, and waits for the mysteries inside to be revealed. We do not know if we want what it contains inside, we just know that we want it to be fully revealed to us, but it is not time for that.

Waiting for the right time is not something that I do well, or naturally, and I do not think that I am alone in that.

Like that child awaiting the right time to open the gift, I just want to get on with it … whatever ‘it’ is.

Being of advanced years, I am starting to learn something about the season of waiting. I am learning it is not empty time. It is not a waste of time. There is a purpose in this season of waiting and anticipating.

In the season of waiting, there is opportunity to to not be that child in the back seat, but to be one of the maturity to notice the beauty along the way. We can learn that age-old lesson to “be still.”

Somehow, to we mere mortals, “be still” sounds like a demand, and, for the impatient like me, it sounds like a punishment.

There is more, though, to that age-old lesson. The lesson comes from the Psalms (Psalm 46:10).

It says:
“Be still, and know that I am God”

When I read beyond those first two words, I sense not a demand or punishment in it’s message to me, but an opportunity to let the chips fall where they may.

It is like someone giving me money to play the slots. It did not cost me to play, so, win or lose, I get to pull the handle and still walk away without having had to gamble.

Unlike that child tortuously awaiting the appointed time to reveal the contents of the beautifully wrapped box, I can enjoy the presents of today, knowing that God has not only the appointed day in control, but also what is contained in the wrappings.

Are we there yet?

No, but each day of anticipation is an opportunity to trust in the God who already knows what is awaiting me.

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Hanging on …

Yesterday I wrote a post about dealing with struggles, and when it was finished I realized that I was pretty good at speaking truth, and not so good at living it (aka. I wasn’t practicing what I was preaching). So, not wanting to be a hypocrite, I decided to take my own advice.

I knew I needed to get out, and have some undisturbed time … what mother of kids who live at home doesn’t desire that? Fortunately, one kid was out, and the other two were preoccupied with video games and the telephone … and kid number four (aka. hubby) was deeply engaged in a movie. So, I took a notebook, a pencil, a cup of tea and a towel (to dry off the outdoor chair I was heading for, as it had rained … (again).

I sat facing the bright, even warm, sun. This was fantastic, as last week was the first day of summer, and I am still very convinced that we have barely had spring! But, I digress!

The sun was beautiful, and the sky, although dotted with big white cotton ball clouds, was a spectacular bright blue. So I dried my chair, and snuggled in with my tea. I laid my head back and smiled … eyes closed. When I do something like this, I am reminded how infrequently I take the time to do … nothing, and how immediately responsive my body and mind are when I do. Hum, maybe our bodies and minds are created with a need for rest … not just sleep (which I am a big fan of) but rest … being still.

So, there I sat, the sun shining down on my, my body and mind becoming still. Then my eyes opened as I realized I did have a purpose in going out … I had my notebook and pencil. So, I stood, and turned my chair so that I was facing away from the sun (deep down, I was probably looking for a rainbow … it had rained earlier). Then I got my notebook out, and started writing praises.

Now, if you didn’t read my post yesterday, it was about those life moments when you feel like your life is hanging by a thread, when your ship comes in, but you are at the airport, when you’ve got just one nerve left and someone (heavy) is standing on it …

… when you are in the midst of struggle.

And I spoke of how when we are in the midst of struggle, we need to give up control and look to the only one who is in control for answers.

And, as I sat outside, the sun on my back, I did just that. But I went one step further … I cannot look on the God of my life, and not praise Him (hum, maybe that is what we were designed to do). So, I began to write down my praise to my God.

I started with His reminder to me … “Be still and know that I am God (I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth. Psalm 46:10).” And then, in no order (ha! ha! ha! … in my mind order is absent anyway) I wrote about what I was seeing … the bright blue sky, the brilliant green trees, plants and grass. I wrote about what I was hearing … the melody of a chorus of many kinds of birds, insects and squirrels.

Then I wrote of how hard it was to sit, and be still … I could weed, I could trim that grapevine, I could dead head my rose bush. No! I am here to worship, and be still! Then I wrote (page two) ‘I will praise you,’ and, for the next half hour I sat, and I wrote my hearts praises to God.

And I didn’t stop until, after over three pages of writing, I had a cramp in my right hand, from scribbling down on the paper. Over and over, what came to my mind, and I wrote on the paper were praises to God for what I know, in my head, He is. And, as I read my list over, I realized that I was praising Him for the things that were my struggle …

Over and over, what came to my mind were words of how God is my protector, my safety, my comforter. The very areas I was feeling needy. Obviously, what my mind knows (that God will protect me), I easily forget when I am trying to stay in control of the struggle of the moment.

But, I didn’t only learn that the cries of my heart are already being comforted by the Great Comforter … I also learned that the struggle cannot be hurried, and that to find comfort in struggle is even better that knowing the struggle is over.

You see, when I turned my chair from the sun, I was looking for a rainbow …

I wrote the following on my paper …

“My grapevine is reaching up, reaching out towards the sun, the light … it is beautiful! BUT I turn my chair so my back is to the sun, the warmth, the light, because I want to see the rainbow … the sign of the end of the struggle and the hope prayed for … I want to RUSH the reward …”

You know what? After about an hour of praising God, I got my reward … without the struggle being over yet. To have followed the leading to praise in the midst of the storm was far more rewarding than to know that the storm is over. One day, the storm WILL be over, but to have received God’s peace, and comfort in the midst of it is even better … because that is a miracle that could not have been achieved if I had been in control.

And from now on, no more searching for rainbows … like my grapevine, I’m looking towards the light.

God is in control, and I will praise Him in the storm.

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Do you ever feel like you are hanging on by a thread? Or maybe you live with, or know someone else who seems to be just barely surviving … but rather precariously. They are desperate, they are exhausted, they are hopeless.

When I am having a hanging by a thread moment a vivid picture forms in my mind. It is a picture of me, in a small boat, in the midst of a growing, growling powerful tropical storm. I am alone, I have no supplies to help me get through it. I have no protection from the elements. And I have no idea how much longer it will go on before the storm passes (or I pass).

Life has ‘hanging by a thread’ moments (that seem to last years, even if they only last a few days). And when these inevitable times come, we just want them to hurry up and go. Unfortunately, they have a mind of their own, and their coming and going seems to have little to do with our efforts.

I having been trying (as a person who struggles with the lack of a gift of patience) to learn to appreciate process, rather than just wish that the struggle were over. This has not been an easy thing for me to learn. And, with every step forward, I slide backwards even farther.

Although my attempt at appreciating process sounds honorable, I have to admit that my rational for this self-learning is not completely honorable. You see, I am trying to ‘work the system’ (how it is that I think I can ‘work the system’ of something untouchable, invisible, is ridiculous … even to me).

My thinking is that we usually can only appreciate the process of struggle AFTER it is over (oh, hindsight, how I love thee). So, what I am really trying to do, by appreciating the process, is seeking the benefit of hindsight in the midst of the process 😉 … But, I am also hoping that by appreciating the process … the struggle might get over sooner! I do realize that my theory is not only confusing, but it is also very flawed, and very … wrong.

There is simply no way to rush the process of struggle. There is no ‘working the system’ to try to expedite the end of struggle. I cannot sit contentedly in my little boat, in the midst of ocean swells, all alone, and just enjoy the ride. Struggle is not something to appreciate, it is something that brings us back to the reality that we cannot do it alone. Struggle is something that should cause us to say, “I give up.”

Now don’t go getting your skin tight theological knickers in a fisherman’s knot! What I mean when I say that struggle should cause us to give up, is that we need to give up our control on the situation, and give that control back into the hand of the man who stilled the water, and calmed the sea. You see, if I am in the midst of struggle, I am going to suffer it’s effects …

I’m going to get wet,

maybe even bruised from being thrashed around,

I might even get sick,

or even tossed out into the sea …

Because bad things do happen to good people … everyday! That … is life … But, God’s hand, and His plan is to see me, to see us, through it.

He knows how long the storm will last.

He knows how the storm will end.

And He knows we need to rely on Him, and not on ourselves, in the midst of it.

And, it is not until we take our eyes off the struggle, that we can see who it is that is in control, and that He is bigger than anything we could ever face.

Then the Lord spoke to Job out of the storm. He said: “Who is this that obscures my plans with words without knowledge?”

Job 38:1-2

“Then Job replied to the Lord, I know that you can do all things;
no purpose of yours can be thwarted. You asked, ‘Who is this that obscures my plans without knowledge?’
Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know.

“You said, ‘Listen now, and I will speak; I will question you, and you shall answer me.’
My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you.

Job 42:2-5


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